By Ben Waterhouse
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Our long, hot summer of sipping ice-cold radlers and macro tallboys in between wildfires has finally come an end, and I could not be happier to be returning to the big beers of winter. Fall is a time of rising ABVs and darkening malts as the temperature drops. The days grow shorter and we gather at the bar to salute the harvest. Here are eight season-appropriate beers to enjoy from the hop harvest through Oktoberfest and beyond — and not a one of them contains pumpkin.
Baerlic Brewing Company: Hellsner Helles Fresh Hop
5.0% ABV, 20 IBUs
As of this writing, the hop harvest was still in full swing, and few fresh-hopped beers had made it to bars. Baerlic, a 10-barrel brewery with a design-heavy taproom in Southeast Portland, was ahead of most, dropping three fresh-hopped beers in early September. The Pioneer Bitter, a gold medal winner from the 2017 Oregon Beer Awards, might be the most eagerly awaited, but my favorite of the bunch is this juiced-up Munich-style lager, which pours golden yellow. Flavors of mango and papaya mingle with floral aromas from a big dose of Santiam hops. It tastes like a bakery full of proofing bread with hints of apple juice. There’s no telling how long this one will stick around, but Baerlic’s lagers have been consistently strong of late, so if you can’t find Hellsner on tap one of its less-seasonal counterparts will likely suffice.
Hopworks Urban Brewery: Mt. Angel Volksbier Bavarian Session Ale
5.0% ABV, 40 IBUs
Hopworks released this limited-edition homage to Oregon’s largest Oktoberfest just in time for the event’s 52nd birthday in mid-September, when the Portland brewery’s beers were the only non-German offerings in the Biergarten. The mild, straw-colored brew owes its lightly spicy aroma to Hallertau hops sourced all the way from Bavaria — a radical allegiance to the Reinheitsgebot if ever there was one. The bready bitterness gains some floral and citrus notes as it warms, but overall it’s a pleasant ale to pound while you polka. It may not capture the imagination as well as Mount Angel’s own Benedictine brews, but it’s far more appropriate for all-day drinking.
StormBreaker Brewing: Stormtoberfest Marzen-Style Lager
5.1% ABV, 27 IBUs
The label for this Märzenbier features an anthropomorphized fermenter tank sporting a feathered cap, four-legged lederhosen and a single, baleful eye: an unsettling vision for a comforting beer. The latest lager from North Portland’s StormBreaker pours clear copper with no head and strong aromas of anise and bubblegum. Although the marketing copy brags of putting “heart, soul and lederhosen into every batch,” I taste no leather here. Despite the low IBU, this isn’t a barley bomb. It’s clean and classic, with a creamy texture and enough bite on the finish to offset its sweetness. It’s a beer for an Oregon autumn, inspiring visions of grey skies and damp denim. It would make a good companion to a plate of brats, but is even better suited for braising them.
Occidental Brewing: Festbier
6.3% ABV, [Unavailable] IBUs
North Portland’s Occidental brewing is dedicated to classic German styles, and this very classic Marzen has long been a feature of its annual Oktoberfest party. Now that it’s available in bottles for the first time, it can become a fixture at yours, too. Festbier pours a clear Pre-Raphaelite red with unusually bright, fizzy carbonation. It smells Negra Modelo and tastes like fresh-baked biscuits. There’s no clever tricks or new concepts here — Occidental takes on the style and nails it. This beer is fresh, clean, mild and dangerously drinkable. Stay safe by downing it alongside an abundance of pork products.
Deschutes Brewery: Hopzeit Autumn IPA
7% ABV, 60 IBUs
Deschutes’ newest autumn seasonal is “Marzenbier-inspired,” which I take to mean that it’s an Oktoberfest beer for those who don’t much care for Oktoberfest beers. Hopzeit pours a rich coppery amber, the color of fresh apple cider, with abundant fruit-salad aromas. It’s got the sweet booziness of a classic Oktoberfest ale, but it’s balanced with a hefty dose of Herkules, Sterling and Hull Melon hops that lend a bitter bite and lingering peppery finish. It reminds me of nothing so much as Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale. I’m not sure who the target consumer might be for this hybrid, but it makes for a pleasant pint. Just make sure you serve it straight from the fridge — as Hopzeit approaches room temperature, it becomes unpleasantly syrupy.
Ninkasi Brewing Company: First Rule IPA
7.5% ABV, 60 IBUs
According to Ninkasi, the first rule of this new IPA is “Do not talk about this IPA.” Rules are made to be broken. This bright, fruity special release is the star of the brewery’s 2017 IPA variety pack and hardly seems like it could be the product of the same brewery that brought us Total Domination and Tricerahops. A clear golden ale with strong aromas of passionfruit and nightshades, it packs a huge tropical wallop of mango and papaya giving way to a smooth finish that leaves you wanting more. With a hop bill including El Dorado, Mosaic and Calypso, it reminds me a little of tropical punch. I want to sip it from a tiki mug with a tiny umbrella while basking under a sun lamp, but I’m more likely to schlep a couple of six-packs to the next neighborhood house party.
Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery: Tractor Pull Tawny Old Ale
8.5% ABV, 32 IBUs
This hefty English-style old ale has been kicking around in bottles since early 2017, but there’s something distinctly autumnal about the vanilla and cinnamon that give this tawny brew its kick. Sold in sturdy 500-milliliter bottles with cheery yellow labels, Tractor Pull pours a deep nut brown and smells like an orchard after harvest, with hints of cocoa and coffee. It’s brightly fizzy and tastes of rye bread, molasses, cinnamon and subtle vanilla. It reminds me of pain d’epices and Dr. Pepper, and should probably be sipped alongside a plate of fresh-baked spice cookies. Looking for even more autumn? Watch for Trolley Pull, a version aged in Eagle Rare barrels made in collaboration with North Portland bar Interurban, coming out soon in 750-milliliter bottles.
Claim 52 Brewing: Bird Up Milkshake IPA With Strawberry
7.3% ABV, 30 IBUs
Strawberries don’t exactly scream “fall,” but, thanks to a late harvest, this strange beast of a beer dropped in September. Bird Up is the latest in a series of “milkshake” IPAs from this small Eugene brewery in recent months, brewed with lactose in the manner of creamy, fruity brews from Pennsylvania’s Tired Hands and Seattle’s Urban Family. This one, available only in cans, was made with strawberries and vanilla and pours an enticing peachy-pink with thick haze. Its enormously hoppy nose is heavy on grapefruit. The strawberries contribute tart acidity and a lingering floral sensation. It reminds me of an Orange Julius, or maybe a scoop of strawberry sherbet floated in a pint of Claim 52’s coveted Fluffy IPA. Stout floats are common enough — why not other ales? Bird Up is a limited release, but if you can’t get your hands on a can I bet there’s another milky fruit concoction coming our way soon enough.
By Oregon Beer Growler Contributors
The summer of 2015 was a brutal one. There were 28 days where the city of Portland officially hit or exceeded the 90 degree mark. That’s nearly a month of sweating probably far more than you wanted to and cursing the fact that you still live in a place without air conditioning. It’s also 16 more days than we see on average. If we’re in for another scorching summer, and perhaps on our way to becoming the new Bakersfield, Calif. if that state’s drought continues to push north, at least we can celebrate our abundance of brewery patios with shade and quality beer. While we couldn’t include all of our favorites in this guide, here are some standouts from across the state during the past year:
825 N. Cook St., Portland, 503-265-8002, eclipticbrewing.com
Ecliptic’s patio has been evolving since it opened in 2013, but from the start the space offered a view of the West Hills — made spectacular as the sun sets —and I-405 as it spans the Willamette, adding a bit of schadenfreude spice to happy hour during rush hour. The umbrella-covered picnic tables provide refuge from the sun with foliage bordering two sides, breaking up the concrete parking lot and surrounding streets. Located in what is still a largely industrial area south of bustling Mississippi, the lack of nearby dining makes it feel like you’ve found an oasis as you sip beers named for the stars while gaining an astronomy lesson from the menu.
The kitchen is known to serve up some of the best brewpub food in town with a menu that rotates in accordance with the Old World calendar. For a price break, hit happy hour where popular items like Caesar salad, the classic burger and grilled salmon sandwich are a few bucks cheaper. However, don’t look past more unusual dishes like deviled eggs topped with boquerones or skip an indulgence like an ice cream float made with the Capella Porter. KRIS MCDOWELL
Fire on the Mountain
3443 NE 57th Ave., Portland, 503-894-8973, portlandwings.com
Fire on the Mountain is undoubtedly known more for its food — the wings in particular — than its beer. The restaurant had been making East Coast-inspired wings for six years when owners decided to get into the booming brewing business, adding a third family-friendly location that houses the brewery as well as pizza ovens that churn out a cross between New York-style and Neo-Neapolitan style pies.
During warm weather, the patio — which has a mix of standard four-person tables and larger picnic tables — is a hopping place to be. Sitting beneath the overhead covering can get a bit warm during the height of summer evenings but conversely, that same covering offers shelter from rain. An impressive mosaic outdoor fireplace brightens the decor and provides a coziness when the weather is cooler. All day on Mondays, beers are just $2.50. KRIS MCDOWELL
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
5115 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, 503-282-0622, laurelwoodbrewpub.com
Tucked out of sight, the patio atop Laurelwood Northeast (Did you even know there was an upstairs that includes an indoor “Brewers Den?”) feels like an oasis from the bustle on the main floor of the flagship location and traffic on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. While modest in size, they’ve made the most of the rooftop with bench seating — topped with flower boxes — around the perimeter that join with the two- and four-person tables. Raspberry vines and other foliage occupy another planter, helping to give the patio more of a backyard feel.
Nearly a dozen beers pour out of the taps along with a handful of guest ciders and the extensive menu offers plenty of options to accompany one’s drink of choice. Happy hour, with discounts on beer and food, gets even happier on Thursdays when they roll out Thirsty Thursdays. Each week the brewers select one keg of beer that goes for $2 a pint from 3 p.m. until the tap runs dry in the Brewers Den. Beers purchased in that area can be taken out to the patio. KRIS MCDOWELL
Montavilla Brew Works
7805 SE Stark St., Portland, 503-954-3440, montavillabrew.com
Occupying a corner on the west end of the business-filled portion of Southeast Stark Street in the Montavilla neighborhood, Montavilla Brew Works features a modest bar area that is open to the brewery itself with an adjacent patio that greatly increases the seating. It’s an adults-only place throughout (no minors, no furry friends) with a wide assortment of house beers. From the beginning, brewer/co-owner Michael Kora has put his brewing system through its paces to offer an impressive number of beers that range from summer patio staples like Stick and Frame Blonde Ale to heartier brews like Old Fellowship Barleywine. There are only minimal snacks onsite, but customers are welcome to bring in outside food like pizza from Flying Pie across the street.
The patio is fully enclosed, providing a buffer from the car and pedestrian traffic that is especially prevalent on warm, summer afternoons. Outfitted with umbrella-topped picnic tables, a cornhole game — an ideal one-handed activity to enjoy with a beer in the other — and the bar just steps away, it’s a setting that invites one to stay for a while and relax. KRIS MCDOWELL
Stickmen Brewing Company
40 N. State St., Lake Oswego, 503-4449, stickmenbeer.com
While Oswego Lake is largely inaccessible to the general public, particularly for recreational purposes, you can still drink and dine on the edge of the water and feel like you own a piece of it from the patio at Stickmen. The brewery, which opened in 2011, has a deck that extends over what’s officially called Lakewood Bay. You can spend hours entertaining yourself with nature — watching the blue sky turn purple and red at dusk or by tossing bits of French fry to giant bass and baby ducks. On a hot day, you can also sit back and watch stand-up paddle boarders find their balance or wealthy families taking a spin in their motorized vessels. If things really get crazy, the Lake Oswego boat cops will be on patrol. While the brewery no longer serves the skewers it once advertised in its name, the kitchen focuses on classic pub fare and thankfully F-Bomb IPA remains on tap. ANDI PREWITT
832 N. Beech St., Portland, 971-703-4516, stormbreakerbrewing.com
StormBreaker’s location on the corner of North Beech Street and Mississippi Avenue is surrounded by numerous bars, restaurants and retail shops that are frequently bustling with activity, making the patio a great place for taking it all in while enjoying the beers. Since the brewpub changed hands and names (formerly Amnesia Brewing) there have been numerous upgrades — to the interior, to the food and to the outside. What was once a utilitarian patio is now a space that has a permanent covering over a portion of the picnic tables — great whether one is trying to escape the sun or the rain — as well as a two fire pits with seating. If the fire pits are too crowded, there are also hanging heaters that provide year-round warmth when the patio is enclosed with detachable sides.
The beers can be enjoyed on their own or, for whiskey fans, StormBreaker provides eight shot pairings with half-pints. The food menu has a little something for everyone, including sharable plates for groups and selections for kids. KRIS MCDOWELL
Block 15 Brewery & Tap Room
3415 SW Deschutes St., Corvallis, 541-752-BEER, block15.com/brewery-tap-room#overview-2
A short eight-minute drive from its downtown location, Block 15’s Brewery & Tap Room offers more of a scenic setting, whether you’re seated inside or outside the building. The alluring view of Mary’s Peak — the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range — is just the beginning of the appeal of this place. When you first pull into the parking lot, the outdoor patio draws you in right away. It’s airy, reasonably shaded, and decorated with a colorful array of flowers. With a dozen or so beers on tap (including the highly sought-after Sticky Hands IPA and the seasonal Mango Song IPA) it’s hard to pick just one — so your best bet is to start off with a taster tray. Once you’ve ordered, (carefully) carry your tray of beers outside and park yourself at one of the brewery’s picnic tables that surround the new fire pit. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your variety of brews that are “brewed feet from your seat.” Too hot outside? Venture indoors and doodle your way to happiness on one of their chalkboard tables next to a window. You’ll still get to enjoy the beautiful views — but with air conditioning. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
140 NE Hill St., Albany, 541-928-1931, calapooiabrewing.com
This Albany brewery recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary and it’s easy to see how Calapooia has stayed successful for so long. Between the wide range of beers, daily food specials and live local music every week, there’s always something new to enjoy. On a nice day, go up to their bar and order a refreshing summertime sipper like their Raspberry Wheat or turn up the heat even more with their award-winning Chili Beer, which features Anaheim, Serrano and Jalapeno peppers. Then, take a step outside. The leafy green foliage you’ll encounter once you enter their sheltered outdoor “forest” provides a nice retreat to hide from reality for a little while. Here you’ll find kegs that have been converted into planters, picnic tables and even an old church pew, which gives the space a unique charm. There’s also a barrel with a tabletop that reads, “This table has had other lives,” and goes on to say it was part of “a successful batch or 10 of bourbon and beer making.” Proof that what’s old is new again!
If you happen to be at the brewery on the first or third Wednesday of the month, imbibe in some liquid courage and take part in one of the Open Mic Nights, whether you might be a musician, poet or comedian. If your talents lie elsewhere, at the very least be sure to raise a glass and cheer on the brave souls willing to approach the stage! ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
2065 Madrona Ave. SE, Salem, 503-584-1789, gilgameshbrewing.com
When you first approach the restaurant adjacent to this south Salem brewery, nicknamed “The Campus,” it’s hard to imagine it as a former office building for a grass seed warehouse. As you walk through the expansive (yet cozy) building, the beautiful woodwork and grand stone fireplace are a welcome introduction to the large back patio. You’ll discover there’s a fireplace out there, too — perfect for those cool summer nights. But the real star of the show is Pringle Creek, which runs alongside the patio. It’s a delightful complement to the light breeze that runs through the trees, providing a relaxing ambiance that can only be matched by the beer in your glass.
On the third Wednesday of each month, join former OBG cover girl Mikki Trowbridge for her ever-growing Yoga + Beer on Gilgamesh’s lush lawn next to the creek. After you detox, retox with a pint of the brewery’s DJ Jazzy Hef. The floral jasmine in the beer will take you one step further into becoming one with nature. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant
980 NE Fourth St., McMinnville, OR, 503472-2739, goldenvalleybrewery.com
McMinnville was a finalist in a Best Main Streets of America competition featuring more than 2,000 nominations. If you’ve ever strolled along Northeast Third and Fourth Streets, it’s no surprise that these stretches of pavement made for such a strong contender. Small, independent shops, restaurants and wine tasting rooms line the route. And, of course, no proverbial Main Street would be complete without a brewery. Well, Golden Valley stepped up to fill that void more than 20 years ago. It also happens to have one of the prettiest little patios in that area. The handful of tables are cocooned by vegetation — a wisteria tree does the bulk of the work by coiling up and over a planter in the middle of the space with a trellis that reaches toward the sky. The result is a ceiling of small leaves and branches with just enough natural skylights here and there for the sun to peek through. A fountain bubbles away in one corner above a carpet of small pink flowers and emerald ferns. It feels like you’ve stumbled into a hidden Main Street garden that only former mayors and head of the Chamber of Commerce get access to. ANDI PREWITT
Grain Station Brew Works
755 NE Alpine Ave., McMinnville, 503-687-2739, grainstation.com
If McMinnville’s quaint old town core is the city’s Main Street, then the Granary District might just have become the Entertainment Hub. The blocks of land haven’t shed their rural/industrial identity — large structures covered with corrugated galvanized steel dominate the area. Some are still stamped with the names of their former occupants (like the McDaniel Fertilizer Company), even though most have been transformed into winery tasting rooms and restaurants. At the heart of it all lies Grain Station, a rustic, brown barn with a sprawling patio that butts up against the parking lot. There’s a variety of seating — umbrella-topped picnic tables and plastic chairs pulled up to oversized wooden spools. But plenty of people are just fine with standing — it makes it easier to start dancing when moved by a band playing in the wood-roofed amphitheater. By next year, Grain Station will get a softer carpet of grass in its outdoor living room and even a cover. ANDI PREWITT
McMenamins Hotel Oregon
310 NE Evans St., McMinnville, 503-472-8427, mcmenamins.com/hoteloregon/location
You might not expect that a mere five stories up would feel like the top of the world. That’s how high McMenamins Hotel Oregon rises, and its Rooftop Bar offers surprisingly expansive views of Yamhill Valley’s wine country. Black, wrought-iron tables and chairs wrap around the building before spiraling higher, creating a layered view. Swaths of beige cloth are stretched across portions of the patio for shade, crisscrossing with string lights from the center building to exterior posts. Looking out at the city below you, the trees actually seem to outnumber the buildings and the Coast Range rises gently on the horizon. Because it’s McMenamins, you’re ordering Cajun tots. And while they still have it on tap, drink an Alienator IPA. The beer’s name is a nod to the city’s famous UFO sighting in 1950, the photos of which are said to be some of the most credible to date. ANDI PREWITT
Sky High Brewing & Pub
160 NW Jackson Ave., Corvallis, 541-207-3277, skyhighbrewing.com
It would be remiss to list off some of the best brewery patios in Oregon and not include Sky High Brewing. Nestled on top of the brewery’s renovated four-story building, this rooftop oasis offers some of the best views in Corvallis. While it may only be open seasonally (an often short window for Oregon’s rain-prone climate) and from 4 p.m. to closing time, it’s well worth the wait. At the top of the four-story renovated building, you can enjoy snacks, the brewery’s full tap lineup, and a full service bar. If you’ve had a couple pints and are feeling lively, there are several cornhole stations. Or, if you’re wanting to just take a load off and enjoy the sunset, there are plenty of tables shaded with big blue umbrellas for your ultimate comfort.
On a hot day, it’s nearly impossible to say no to something cold and refreshing. Luckily for you, the brewery offers Handys — which, despite what you may think, are drinks mixed with their Handlebeer wheat ale. You can choose from The Shandy (lemonade), The Randy (Reed’s ginger beer) or The Bandy (soda water — aka Banquet Beer). The Shandy is especially thirst-quenching on a summer day. ERICA TIFFANY-BROWN
Seaside Brewing Company
851 Broadway St., Seaside, 503-717-5451, seasidebrewery.com
The 102-year-old brick building that once held this coastal city’s drunkards and other lawbreakers, is one of the highlights of visiting Seaside Brewing. Since opening in 2012, the owners have slowly, but unrelentingly, worked on renovations while leaving the character of the rustic building intact. Take a seat at the bar and you can see metal rails still covering a small window that doubles as a liquor shelf. Taps sprout from the chipped brick wall of a cell, now holding kegs serving sentences of life with the likelihood of parole once they’re dry. But the exterior has gotten a makeover to match the coziness and hard-scrabble beach city charm that defines the inside. Deck seating now exists on two levels and the ground floor space is more prominently defined by the instillation of a canopy made with reclaimed wood that looks like it’s weathered many a storm near the sea. Strands of lights arc down from the trellis of beams, \creating a soft glow that’s matched by a brick-and-glass enclosed, gas-powered fire pit. From a picnic table seat, you can watch tourists make their way to the Promenade on a street choked with families struggling to control tandem bicycles or packed cars constantly slowed by the stream of pedestrians. On one of those rare summer days when Seaside breaks the 80 degree mark, the brewery kitchen’s chipotle fish tacos are a light dining option. Sweet mango salsa complements the lightly fried crunch of the fresh cod. A citrusy Lockup IPA won’t overwhelm the fish and its name is a reminder to appreciate the fact that you weren’t paying this jail a visit a century ago. ANDI PREWITT
Pelican Pub & Brewery
33180 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City, 503-965-7007
Like many beach traditions — scouring the same tide pools for signs of life, spending too much money at your favorite outlet mall or returning to the candy shop for the saltwater taffy and caramel corn you think is best — sipping beers in front of Haystack Rock at Pelican is a ritual you’ll never grow tired of. As soon as you round the corner of Cape Kiwanda Drive in Pacific City, it’s inevitable that the wind-swept parking lot will be packed with family vans toting sand buckets and Subarus sporting surfboards on the roof. After a day in the water or running up and down the nearby giant sand dune, Pelican is right there to help you rest and refuel just as it has been for 20 years. If you can manage to wait for a table on the patch of concrete out back, watching the sun slowly descend into the shimmering Pacific is all the payoff you’ll need for your patience. Rich, hearty fare is the menu’s strength, including fish and chips breaded with Kiwanda Cream Ale and a sweet, tangy slaw that’s actually not just a plate filler; mac and cheese made with Tillamook smoked cheddar; and a bleu cheese burger featuring Doryman’s Ale pork belly confit. And if a seagull with good aim happens to poop on your shoulder while you’re on the patio (it occasionally happens), chalk it up to life on the coast and order an Umbrella IPA in the hope that it will provide a symbolic shield next time. ANDI PREWITT
THE GORGE/MOUNT HOOD
4945 Baseline Road, Parkdale, 541-352-5500, facebook.com/Solera-Brewery-155875804519628
While sitting on the back lawn of Solera, you might expect a gun-toting farmer to pop out of the trees at any moment to confront you about trespassing on his property if you hadn’t just bought a pint inside. The long, narrow patch of grass that belongs to the brewery is corralled by a rope fence that stretches toward acres of orchards. In the distance sits a dark red barn with a slightly sagging roof next to rust-colored equipment. Majestically jutting out into the sky is the North Face of Mount Hood — the best view you’ll get of the peak from any Oregon brewery. The picnic table seating is basic and unadorned, but you don’t need furniture upstaging scenery this grand. In the decades-old building that houses the 7-barrel brewery and bar, beer flows from a stained glass-style portrait of three grinning skulls. You’ll find ever-popular styles like IPA, but Solera specializes in saison/farmhouse ales. Order something you’ve never tried before the live music gets going, turning this little patch of rural Hood River County into a party that’s wilder than a square dance after a barn raising. ANDI PREWITT
Thunder Island Brewing Co.
515 SW Portage Road, Cascade Locks, 971-231-4599, thunderislandbrewing.com
This is about as close as you’ll get to the Columbia River, as it surges and churns through the Gorge, from the patio of Thunder Island Brewing. The business was named after the feature that engineers created by carving into the mainland in 1890, allowing for the construction of the Cascade Locks and canal. A skinny strip of jagged grey rock topped with grass and trees is the tip of Thunder Island that’s most visible from picnic tables lining a guard rail on the property. The owners seem to upgrade their outdoor playground nearly every year. The space that started with minimal seating now has bench-style wooden booths, a metal fire pit emblazoned with the brewery’s logo, blue-and-white umbrellas, string lights and a brand-new beer bar that will provide some line relief during busy summer weekends. The faster you can get back to your seat, the better because the setting never bores. Not only can you watch barges meander back and forth along the water, you might even spot the Sternwheeler docking next door. This is also the only brewery where you might run into a Pacific Crest Trail-through hiker since Cascade Locks is the sole city along the route in Oregon. Should you run into any shaggy, trail-dust coated people hauling small homes on their backs, buy them a pint of liquid relief. ANDI PREWITT
Elk Horn Brewery
686 E. Broadway St., Eugene, 541-505-8356, elkhornbrewery.com
The campus haven. With seating for 50 at a dozen black wrought-iron tables, the thing about Elk Horn’s patio is how quickly you forget that you are sitting at the corner of two busy streets and are a stone’s throw from the University of Oregon. Founded in 2014 by the folks behind Eugene’s popular Delacata food cart, Elk Horn seeks to bridge the gap between beer, cider and wine, while providing guests with Southern-inspired food made in a kitchen that doesn’t cut any corners. First, order some frickles (yes, fried pickles). Then, sip your pint of Ducks Blue Ribbon Kolsch, Redic Dry Cider, Velvet Antler Red Ale (or any of the 24 beers, ciders and sodas on tap — not to mention the extensive whiskey list). Start drooling thanks to a menu of shrimp and grits, catfish, and chicken and waffles. Before you order, though, cast your gaze to the blaze burning at the far end: the recently added wood-burning oven is cranking out “beerizzas,” or pizza made with a stout crust. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Falling Sky Pour House & Delicatessen
790 Blair Blvd., Eugene, 541-653-9167, fallingskybrewing.com
While Falling Sky’s Oak Alley brewpub has a nice outdoor area, the Pour House & Delicatessen offers a spacious covered patio with raised counter and table settings. In addition to local accolades, including “Best Bar Grub,” “Best Burger” and “Best Place to Drink in the Sun,” Falling Sky has made a mark with its ability to brew diverse beverages and present quality charcuterie, breads, pickles and more. The deli also takes the prize for having the most family-friendly patio. The covered, enclosed space forgoes a fire pit and instead has a sand pit, complete with a selection of toys. There’s no better brewery patio in Eugene for kids to play while moms and dads take a breather over a pint of Blue Balloon Belgian Pale Ale or Dual Hearted IPA. If you want a little privacy while outdoors, fear not. Off in one corner, sectioned off from the rest of the space, there’s a secret table with room for four. From latkes to beef-pastrami sliders or other pastramis made of duck, lamb and beef, be sure to arrive with an empty stomach, because you certainly won’t leave with one. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Hop Valley Tasting Room
990 W. First Ave., Eugene, 541-484-2337, hopvalleybrewing.com
On your way west down First Avenue, traveling away from iconic Skinner Butte, when you pass the homebrew shop, auto repair place and various industrial businesses, you might at first wonder how in the world there’s a brewery to be found in this area. But you are indeed in prime Eugene beer country, so just look for the giant hop cone. When Hop Valley named the brewery and designed a logo in honor of the Willamette Valley’s hop-growing history, the founders knew that hops must be central to everything they do. The first thing you’ll see as you approach the long, narrow patio lining the side of the building? Hop vines making their way up trellises. Be sure to pardon Hop Valley’s dust — already with seating for 175 (and room for 260 people total), Hop Valley is currently further expanding the patio. Dip inside and peek through the large windows that let you see the brewing side of things. Then relax in the soothing presence of the plants that bring such bitter joy to the 18 beers on tap, such as Citrus Mistress IPA, Double-D Blonde Ale or Light Me Up Lager. The tasting in tasting room isn’t just for the beer. Check out an Irish take on the steak nachos, a spicy smoked andouille sandwich or a Mediterranean panini for some satisfying outdoor summer eats. Coming in the evening? A large rectangular fire pit provides a prime warm-up spot. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
McMenamins North Bank
22 Club Road, Eugene, 541-343-5622, mcmenamins.com/NorthBank
When the folks at McMenamins opened their third Eugene location in 2000, they must have had summer on their minds. After all, where better to enjoy a pub burger and a pint of Summer Berry Stout (on nitro, no less), Copper Moon Summer Pale Ale or iconic Ruby, than on a patio next to the gently flowing Willamette River? Take in the sunset or watch the traffic roll over the nearby Ferry Street Bridge. And don’t feel guilty about noshing on the elk Bolognese, ale-battered fish and chips or pork shank osso buco. North Bank is not only riverside, it also borders part of Eugene’s vast network of bike paths, so order what you want and ride it off later. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Ninkasi Brewing Company
272 Van Buren St., Eugene, 541-344-2739, ninkasibrewing.com
Eugene’s largest brewery also has the largest beer patio, with room for up to around 300 beer fans. Located in the heart of the Whiteaker, Ninkasi’s tasting room is a walled garden of beery delights. A dozen tables are spaced throughout to give convenient seating, but it’s still easy to wander or hold up a patch of wall. Off near one corner, a large fire pit — filled with pale green, blue and pink rocks — gives you a chance to soak up some warmth when the sun finally fades on lingering summer evenings. In case of rain, a large canopy provides cover for part of the patio, or you can duck inside the tasting room. Hungry? Food carts can usually be found either in front of the brewery or just inside the patio, and it’s okay to bring in food from the outside. Once you arrive, first stop at the bar to order up your pint of Helles Belles Lager, Total Domination IPA, or Dawn of the Red India Red Ale. This summer provides another reason to raise a glass to a brewery named for the ancient Sumerian goddess: Ninkasi turns 10 this year. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
Oakshire Brewing Public House
207 Madison St., Eugene, 541-654-5520, oakbrew.com
Oakshire is also celebrating its first decade this year, and their Whiteaker-area Public House has become an area favorite. The reason is apparent: when it comes to enjoying a fine craft beer on an Oregon summer evening, where better than a simple picnic table on a west-facing open patio? It’s a fine way to soak up every last ray of sunlight from the days that are, alas, already getting shorter. Take your pick of 14 picnic tables. The patio has no frills, but it’s good, simple outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying a bite from a food cart along with your pint of Watershed IPA, Sun Made Cucumber Berliner Weisse or Line Dry Rye IPA. ANTHONY ST. CLAIR
495 NE Bellevue Drive, Bend, 541-639-4776, worthybrewing.com
Worthy Brewing built a massive, 26,000-square-foot brewery outside of the downtown core for a reason — the plots of land east of Pilot Butte were much larger than anything west of Highway 97. While a large portion of that land was allocated for beer production, the location was begging for a place for customers enjoy the westward view. Enter Worthy’s patio, one of the largest outdoor restaurant spaces in Bend. Worthy is one of the better places to start your night out, considering its distance from downtown and its famous wood-stone oven bedazzled in shimmering, colorful tiles. Build a drinking base with an Oregon-inspired duck and fig pizza or blackened steelhead tacos and pair those with Worthy’s award-winning Easy Day Kolsch or Farm Out Saison. If you’ve already gone through the brewery’s year-rounds, try an experimental-hop IPA or coconut lime gose from the Heart and Soul Series. A large expansion on the restaurant and patio is underway, which will provide more seating, an outdoor bar and an observatory. In the meantime, round up the kids and set them loose on Worthy’s lower lawn while you relax and watch the sun set over Pilot Butte. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
10 Barrel Brewing
1135 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-678-5228, 10barrel.com
There are few places within city limits that capture the stereotypical Bend vibe as well 10 Barrel’s Pub. Located in the heart of the west side, the patio is often filled with a capacity crowd surrounding a raging fire pit or mobbing the outdoor bar. While the location draws people from all walks of life, the majority are young adults in some sort of outdoor gear as they just finished a bike ride, mountain hike or long river float. And it’s not just the ambiance that draws them in. Some of the city’s tastiest (and best-funded) brews come out of these taps, including the staples and R&D batches. For instance, the now-famous Joe IPA was a pub exclusive long before it was distributed in six-packs. Keep an eye out for anything from Tonya Cornett, 10 Barrel’s celebrated sour brewer. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Crux Fermentation Project
50 SW Division St., Bend, 541-385-3333, cruxfermentation.com
If you spend even a few of Bend’s 300 days of sunshine on Crux’s lawn, then you’re doing it right. The largest outdoor patio in town features lawn games, a large fire pit and some of the state’s best beers. While the restaurant’s menu is limited, there are two consistent food carts, including the cult-darling El Sancho Taco, that make hearty meals that can stand up to Crux’s barrel-aged beauties and heavy IPAs. The brewery is also loved by locals and tourist alike because of the “Sundowner” special. Thirty minutes before and after the sun sinks behind the Three Sisters, drinks are discounted. And you can’t beat the sky show. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Bend Brewing Company
1019 NW Brooks St., Bend, 541-383-1599, bendbrewingco.com
Bend Brewing has been making some of the city’s best beers for 21 years, although it’s been overshadowed by Deschutes’ largeness as well as the feisty up-and-comers. But locals have known about Bend Brewing for years. It’s where Tonya Cornett got her start before Ian Larkin seamlessly took over. Upscale pub fare and a wide array of beer styles await those who enter the unassuming house in the downtown area. The Elk Lake IPA is there for those who need a hop fix, but the seasonals should not be ignored. Look for the Black Diamond Dark Lager, which refreshes despite its rich complexity. And bring a pink-hued Ching Ching American Sour onto the back patio that overlooks the famous Mirror Pond. While Bend Brewing was a hidden gem for years, its growing fame can make it tough to find a seat on the weekend, so plan accordingly. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
GoodLife Brewing Company
70 SW Century Drive, Bend, 541-728-0749, goodlifebrewing.com
GoodLife Brewing Company is nearly synonymous with its flagship beer, Sweet As Pacific Ale. While it’s a popular brew to crush while floating on rivers and lakes across the state, you could argue that one of the best spots to consume it is on the lawn next to the brewery. That space is large enough for two bocce ball courts, two sets of cornhole boards, a fire pit, a food cart and plenty of tables — yet still has plenty of empty grass for people to lay down and soak up the sun with beer in hand. The spot is tucked away in the Century Center, so it can sometimes be easier to find a seat here than at other, more tourist-driven breweries. Besides Sweet As, GoodLife’s bread and butter is the consistency of delicious, hoppier brews like Descender IPA. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Sunriver Brewing Company
1005 NW Galveston Ave., Bend, 541-408-9377, sunriverbrewingcompany.com
When Sunriver Brewing announced it would be taking over the space that housed the Oblivion Brewing Company Pub on Northwest Galveston, many people shook their heads, citing immense competition on the west side of town. But with Sunriver’s solid menu and beers that are quickly racking up medals in national competitions, the move turned out to be a safe bet. The addition of the patio behind the pub has been a big draw, with several outdoor tables and a barn-like structure that will help provide shelter from the cold during winter months. The brewery makes beers that are great for all seasons. The award-winning Fuzztail Hefeweizen is refreshing and bright for summer days while Cocoa Cow Chocolate Milk Stout (when available) will be a warm, liquid dessert once the temperatures drop. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
Wild Ride Brew
332 SW Fifth St., Redmond, 541-516-8544, wildridebrew.com
Redmond is Bend’s little brother that’s quickly growing up. With more affordable housing and plenty of space to grow, more people are moving to Redmond to save on rent even while working in Bend. Wild Ride arrived at the perfect time, then. A huge patio greets you as soon as you drive up along with a small food cart pod with three to five trucks. Most days, the brewery door is rolled up and you can spot Paul Bergeman running around inside creating flagships like Hopperhead IPA and Whoopty Whoop Wheat or crafting styles outside the norm such as a hibiscus golden ale or a peanut butter porter. Enjoy any of these options on the concrete patio filled with giant wooden spools that have been turned into tables or high-tops covered by wide, white umbrellas. In addition to hikers relaxing with dogs, post-trek, you may even spot a regular who likes to bring his giant lizard with him to the brewery. BRANDEN ANDERSEN
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Love 'em or hate 'em, pumpkin beers are a fall staple that vary widely from pale, sessionable offerings to heavy, hearty brews. One of the best in Oregon falls in the latter camp and comes from 9-year-old Oakshire Brewing in Eugene. Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter gets a rating of 94 out of 100 on RateBeer, so while it might not be everyone's cup of tea there are plenty of people that enjoy the boldly flavored beer.
Oakshire's head brewer, Matt Van Wyk, brought the recipe for Big Black Jack with him when he started there six years ago. The first small batch was brewed the following year and started out as many specialty beers do — being a keg-only offering. Beer drinkers took to it quickly, however, and within a couple of years Oakshire began selling it in 22-ounce bottles as well.
The recipe has basically remained the same since Matt started making it, with only minor malt changes based on availability. He describes it as a hands-on beer due to the spices — nutmeg, dried ginger, whole cloves and cinnamon chips — that go into every batch. Similar in variety and amount to a premixed pumpkin pie spice blend, Matt's hand weighing ensures the beer comes out just the way he intended. After weighing, the spices are put into mesh bags, the equivalent of gigantic tea bags, which are then placed into buckets marked with the time each will be added to the boil. Just as "mise en place" allows a chef's process to flow smoothly, having the "tea bags" ready allows the Oakshire brewers a smoother brew day. Most brew days, the team is juggling three batches, transferring them from tank to tank, one after another. A delay with one batch could throw off the entire brew day. And even when Matt isn't leading the brewing, his process helps grease the wheels for the making of Big Black Jack.
In addition to the spices, each batch of beer gets solid dose of 70 percent dark chocolate and cacao nibs — 10 pounds of each. Unlike spices that might float to the top, these ingredients risk falling to the bottom and scorching the brew kettle. To avoid that problem, hot wort is poured over the chocolate and nibs in a separate bucket to create a sauce of sorts that’s then added to the boil. Lucky for the brewing staff, there’s always plenty of wort-chocolate to spare and Matt traditionally treats everyone to sundaes by bringing in ice cream the days the beer is brewed.
Pumpkin brews are often a point of contention for beer lovers because they tend to hit the shelves and taps before the pumpkins could realistically be harvested most years. But Oakshire plans ahead while using pumpkins from Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis. The team roasts, purees and freezes pumpkin every year, so the puree used in this year's batch of Big Black Jack actually came from last year's pumpkins. It's a method that eliminates the unpredictability of the growing season and allows the beer to be brewed in August, well before any local pumpkins could be harvested and processed, with the finished product reaching craft beer drinkers' lips in early September.
Being a spiced beer, Big Black Jack is one that is best when it’s fresh in order to experience the full spice profile. But the fact that it's also an imperial porter, coming in at 7.5 percent ABV, the beer can hold up to a bit of aging. Its flavor will change after a couple months, with the spice notes retreating, allowing the chocolate and roasty characteristics to become more assertive.
Knowing his beer was suitable for aging, Matt went one step further last year and aged part of the supply in two Heaven Hill bourbon whiskey barrels. A recent sampling confirmed that as it has aged, the spice notes have mellowed out — almost to the point of being absent. In their place is a rich, wood flavor from the barrels that complements the imperial porter. Fans of barrel-aged beers will likely have to visit Oakshire's Public House in Eugene for a sample, although it's possible that a keg or two may escape and surface at a special event in the Portland area.
Big Black Jack joins a host of other pumpkin beers from Oregon breweries with fall availability.
Oakshire’s Big Black Jack Imperial Pumpkin Porter is made using pumpkins from Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis. The squashes are actually roasted, pureed and then frozen the year before in order to eliminate the unpredictability of the growing season. The method also allows the beer to be brewed in August.
Oregon-Brewed Pumpkin Beers
7 Devils Brewing Co. | Winter is Coming Pumpkin Porter | 5.4% ABV | IBUs N/A
Agrarian Ales Brewing Company | Cucurbita | 4.5% ABV | 10 IBUs
Agrarian Ales Brewing Company | Von Tassel | 6% ABV | 15 IBUs
Breakside Brewery | Sweet Potato Mole Mild | 4.2% ABV | 10 IBUs
Burnside Brewing | The Dapper Skeleton | 5.9% ABV | 11 IBUs
Cascade Brewing | Pumpkin Smash Sour Ale | 11.9% ABV | <10 IBUs
Climate City Brewing | Galloping Hessian Pumpkin Ale | 4.5% ABV | 35 IBUs
Ex Novo Brewing Company | Pumpkin Biere de Garde | 8% ABV | 20 IBUs
Fearless Brewing | Smoked Pumpkin Ale | 8.35% ABV | 28 IBUs
Fort George Brewery | Squash Buckler | 6.5% ABV | IBUs N/A
Great Notion Brewing | The Great Blumpkin Ale | ABV/IBUs N/A
Green Dragon Brew Crew | Bring Me Pie | 7% ABV | 25 IBUs
Griess Family Brews | PJ's Pumpkin Pie | 5.4% ABV | 13 IBUs
Ground Breaker Brewing | Squash Ale | 5.7% ABV | 30 IBUs
Hair of the Dog | Greg | 5.5% ABV | IBUs N/A
Laurelwood Public House and Brewery | Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale | 7.5% ABV | 25 IBUs
Lompoc Brewing | Bibbidi Bobbidi Brew | 5% ABV | IBUs N/A
McMenamins Edgefield Brewery | Duskbringer | 6.06% ABV | 14 IBUs
McMenamins Kennedy School | Pumpkin Porter | 6.19% ABV | 12 IBUs
Misty Mountain Brewing | King Under the Pumpkin Russian Imperial Stout | 8.7% ABV | 40 IBUs
Oakshire Brewing | Big Black Jack Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter | 7.5% ABV | IBUs N/A
Opposition Brewing Company | Nickabod Cranium | 6.4% ABV | 37.9 IBUs
pFriem Family Brewers | Pumpkin Bier | 6.9% ABV | 15 IBUs
Portland Brewing | Rico Sauvie Pumpkin Ale with Spices | 6.5% ABV | 30 IBUs
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery | Name TBD | 5.5% ABV | 25 IBUs
Rogue Ales | Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale | 6.1% ABV | 25 IBUs
Seven Brides Brewing | Heiser's Pumpkin Ale | 6.7% ABV | 15 IBUs
Silver Moon Brewing | Twisted Gourd | 6.8% ABV | 25 IBUs
Stickmen Brewing Company | Imperial Sour Pumpkin Lager | 9.8% ABV | 11 IBUs
StormBreaker Brewing | Pumpkin Peddler | 7.3% ABV | 13 IBUs
Three Mugs Brewing Company | "A Clever Pumpkin Name" Ale | 7.5% ABV | 35 IBUs
Vagabond Brewing | In Gourd We Trust | 5.1% ABV | 25 IBUs
Vertigo Brewing | We Don't Know Jack III | 6.3% ABV | IBUs N/A
OBG Blog Archives
Welcome to our archive pages! Read stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler from June 2012 to January 2018. For newer stories, please visit our new website at: