In addition to great breweries popping up all over the state of Oregon, another phenomenon has been the addition of taphouses. These are bars and growler fill stations that have in upwards of 40-50 taps, featuring craft beer from Oregon and the West coast.

Vagabond Brewing, the Salem-based maker of fine ales, has decided to add taphouses as a cornerstone of their business – with Victory Club opening last June and now Vagabond Outpost in Albany, Oregon.

Vagabond Outpost

Vagabond Brewing just celebrated its 3rd birthday and thee trio of co-owners show no sign of slowing down.

Vagabond Outpost is located near Heritage Mall in Albany and features 40-ish taps that pour ales from Salem, Corvallis, Eugene and more. There are also wines and ciders on tap and kombacha as well.  The taphouse is located right next to Love Love Teriyaki and near Red Robin, so if you’re hungry, grab food to go and eat it in the taphouse with a delicious beverage.

You can find Vagabond Outpost at 2195 14th Ave S Albany, Oregon.

 

Review: Gilgamesh Dark Prince

Author: Jason Harris
December 14, 2016

Editor’s Note: Today is day two in our Twelve Days of Christmas series on Pints and Steins – where we’ll be letting you know about a winter beer every day between now and Christmas Eve.

In today’s Twelve Days Of Brewing Christmas post, we highlight a brew from Gilgamesh Brewing. Gilgamesh is one of the oldest operating independent breweries in Salem, Oregon. The company started in the neighboring city of Turner, Oregon and moved to the industrial district of SE Salem a few years ago.

GIlgamesh Dark PrinceToday, let’s consider Dark Prince from Gilgamesh – a Cascadian Dark Ale, which means it’s a proprietary style of Oregon origin that’s heavy on hops and malt.

Now that we’ve established the medium where CDAs exist, let’s judge Gilgamesh’s Dark Prince. So – about that name – apparently someone at Gilgamesh has a crush on Will Smith, because it’s a thread that weaves many ales that come from the Salem brewery. “Fresh Prince” IPA, “DJ Jazzy Hef” and “Dark Prince” are all ales that stem from Will Smith roots.

 What does it taste like?

Dark Prince pours a dark amber colour. The amber colour dominates and this beer has almost no head – and the lack of carbonation in the first sip is instead dominated by nutty malty brilliance.

The dark grain backbone shows through heavily on this beer – it has almost no hoppy brilliance and instead comes through with dark grain flavors instead. In this beer, it’s almost as if the brewer chose grain and malt instead of hops, which is rare in a CDA – typically is BIG on hops at first and then rushes in the malt. Instead….Gilgamesh skipped the hoppy overtones and instead relied upon the aftertaste.

So, in a few words, Dark Prince from Gilgamesh is absolutely delicious.

Should I buy it?

Oh yes. Go now and buy thee. This beer gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from this beer nut.

You’ll find it at your local taphouse in draft. If you can’t find it. I have pity upon you.

Vagabond Brewing Launches Limited Edition Growler Series

Author: Jason Harris
August 15, 2016

Vagabond Brewing, located in Salem, Oregon, has been on a roll lately. Recently, the trio behind Vagabond opened a downtown Salem taphouse called Victory Club.

Now, the brewery has announced a locally designed, limited edition growler created by Salem native Yuki Saeki. The growler celebrates Japanese culture and also Salem’s link to Japan. In fact, Salem, Oregon has a sister city relationship with Kawagoe, Japan.

Alvin Klausen, of Vagabond, told me today that the brewery desires to always have a growler for sale that is limited edition. The first installment, pictured below, was designed by Saeki, a friend to Vagabond and a local anime artist.

The growler is free with the purchase of a growler fill until August 21. There are only a few hundred that have been made – so get down to Victory Club or Vagabond Brewing and celebrate the new arrival!

Vagabond Growler Front

Vagabond Growler Rear

Salem Welcomes Victory Club

Author: Jason Harris
May 27, 2016

For a very long time, we, the Salem, Oregon beer brigade, have wanted a downtown taphouse or brewpub to showcase the amazing beer made in our state and in our city.

Salem Breweries

Salem’s brewing scene has grown vastly in the last half-decade, first with breweries such as Gilgamesh, Pale Horse (which is now closed); and now with a vibrant scene featuring Vagabond Brewing, Santiam Brewing, Salem Ale Works and Sparky’s. Still, we haven’t had any taphouses or brewing operations in downtown Salem, which is truly the heart of this spread-out city. Until now.

Let’s head downtown for a pint!

Enter Victory Club, which is a brand new taphouse owned and operated by the three-man team behind Vagabond Brewing. Located in the Salem Arts Building (155 Liberty St NE) facing the rear alley, the Victory Club is a 2,500 square foot restaurant/taphouse that features 35 taps, with two taps reserved for every Salem brewery and local cideries Wandering Angus and Anthem.

Bar-View

This means Victory Club will be the premier destination for Salem-made beer. If you’re more into cider and not a beer fan, you’ll be able to buy locally-made cider. Also, as an amazing step, Victory Club is working with the mixology team at nearby Archive Coffee and Bar to have hand-crafted cocktails on tap at Victory Club.

To this Salem resident, a big factor that makes Victory Club unique is the collaborative nature in which its being built. Rather than being strictly a Vagabond taphouse that’s located downtown, the owners want the venue to be a meeting place for Salem’s craft beer and cider movement. Victory Club is a showcase for the emerging spirit of hand-made spirits, ales and ciders from the state’s capital.

I think Victory Club’s coolest feature is going to be the designated outdoor patio. Right off the front door is a patio that’s about 15’x40′ where picnic tables, umbrellas and more will welcome beer fans who want to dine outside. One advantage to Victory Club facing the alley is that the patio will be quieter, with less street traffic to disrupt groups while dining outside.

The Victory Club opens on June 3 and will be open 11:00 AM-10:00 PM Sunday-Wednesdays and from 11:00 AM – Midnight Thursday-Sundays. There’s a ‘soft-opening’ preview event this weekend, May 27 and 28 and the venue will be open in the evenings.

Music and more

Victory Club is sort of an L-shaped space. Upon entering the main room, you have the bar on the left-hand side and semi-private booths that line the right-hand side. The bar itself is rather gorgeous. The tap array is adorned with a copper feature that was hand-built for Victory Club by the copper artist who also makes copper creations for McMenamins.

Copper-Tap-Array

At the far end of the L, past the bar, there’s a rolling barn door that reveals a separated space that has a long events/concert room with a stage and its own small tap array. This area can be closed off and Dean Howes, a co-owner of Vagabond, told me the space will be used for live music, karaoke and in time, private parties and events.

Long view of Event space

Long view of Event space

If you head to Victory Club hungry, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a small kitchen that will serve a traditional pub menu with burgers, tots, nachos and more.

Howes told me they want Victory Club to be a downtown venue that serves multiple purposes. Along with a taphouse serving local pints, the owners hope to have beer pairing dinners, karaoke nights (something we don’t have downtown now) and more.

All hail General Maddox!

All hail General Mattis!

Catering to craft aficionados. Despite having a full liquor license, the Victory Club owners want the venue to be a haven for craft lovers. By featuring locally made ales, ciders and Salem-made house cocktails, there was an active decision made to avoid having rum and coke well drink specials, that invite a more ‘let’s go party!’ crowd.

Using a network of local distillers, cider makes and more, Victory Club will feature a premium cocktail selection that will vary based on curation and seasonality.

Boosting Salem’s brewing visibility

Right now, if you were to ask a group of Salem residents whether we have local breweries, I’d imagine half or less would say ‘no’. The goal of Victory Club, according to Howes, is to change this. By being central and downtown, the owners want to raise the visibility of our town’s brewing prowess and history.

Image courtesy http://www.salemhistory.net/commerce/hops.htm

You see, Salem used to be ‘beer central’ going back 100+ years. In 1866, Samuel Adolph founded “Pacific Brewery” which sadly burned down a few years later. Then, in 1885, The Salem Brewery was renamed “Capitol Brewing” after Adolph sold the brewery to two employees.  There’s a vast history of brewing in Salem, to read more, see Salem History.

One of the best known beers made in Salem was Victory Club ale, hence the venue’s name.

Resurrecting the Salem Brewery Association
With the new resurgence of Salem brewing, the independent owners of these Salem-based breweries have re-formed the Salem Brewery Association. The organization meets monthly to organize and think of ways to boost Salem brewing’s visibility. Howes tells me the organization is looking to start events such as a Salem Beer Week and others, to bring Salem residents to area breweries and open the doors to everyone in the area.

Zwickelmania comes to Salem

Author: Jason Harris
February 13, 2013

Zickelmania

Zwickelmania is an annual brewery tour that beer afficianados in Portland have known for years. It’s an open house of sorts for participating breweries that want to welcome new fans and bring old ones into the doors.

This year is special because, thanks to the efforts of Matt Killikelly, it’s the first year Salem breweries will be featured in the festival!

That’s right, this year with Gilgamesh, McMenamins Thompson Brewery, Pale Horse, the Ram, and Santiam Brewing are all participating. Also, there’s a shuttle that will go from brewery to brewery..and here’s the schedule:

Shuttle Bus Schedule

Pale Horse Brewing: 2359 Hyacinth Street NE, Salem 97301 First Bus leases 11:15, 12:50, 2:25, 4:00, 5:35, Last Stop 7:10

McMenamin’s Thompson Brewery: 3575 Liberty Rd S, Salem,  97302 11:40, 1:15, 2:50, 4:25, 6:00

Gilgamesh Brewing: 2065 SE Madrona Ave., Salem 97302 11:55, 1:30, 3:05, 4:40, 6:15

Santiam Brewing: 2544 SE 19th St SE, Salem 97302 12:10, 1:45, 3:20, 4:55, 6:30,

Ram Restaurant & Brewery: 515 12th St SE, Salem 97301 12:25, 2:00, 3:35, 510, 6:45. Bus stop will be in the West lot on the brewery side of the creek.

Parking options:
A large gravel lot directly next to Pale Horse Brewing is being graciously provided by NATHAN LEVIN PROPERTIES; please park there. Parking is also available at all other locations please obey no parking signs.

Are you going to be participating this year?  If so – please let me know how it goes!

Fresh Hop Review: Bridgeport Hop Harvest Ale

Author: Jason Harris
October 12, 2011

September and October is a very special time of year. It’s the time that the hops are in season. I’m lucky to live in the heart of the hops growing region of the Willamette Valley here in Salem, Oregon. Each year, in September all the brewers in the Oregon area come here to check out the harvest. As a result, we beer drinkers get to be witness to the amazing brews that happen as a result.

In this review, we’ll dig into a brew from Bridgeport called Hop Harvest Ale. The label promises that this brew is from field to brew in under 1 hour, which is an amazing feat. Imagine that there are brewers, loading up a truck full of hops, heading straight for the brewery to boil them instantly.  It’s a yummy proposition.

I’m a huge fan of fresh hop ales, largely because I love the floral bitter taste of an IPA, but sans the the punch-you-in-your face bitterness.  This is where fresh hop ales come into place. These ales offer a hoppy experience without a high-degree of bitter.

In fact, this specific Bridgeport ale is intended to mix caramel malt and a touch of wheat to give a cloudy color to an ale that begs to be sampled.

Upon first sip, Hop Harvest Ale gives you a familiar pale ale type taste, but with a nice floral accented aftertaste.  There is no bitterness, likely because of the wheat influence. There is no malty overtone to this brew, just a nicely balanced hop-intense ale.

If you’re a hop fan, please check out this brew at your local pub or grocery store. Bridgeport has again hit the nail on the head and you won’t forget this beer.

Salem Beer Lovers Welcome Venti’s Cafe and Taphouse

Author: Jason Harris
August 6, 2011

I’ve written about how I wish we had a brewery here in Salem. However, I’ve always thought we just need a restaurant or bar that serves amazing beer from the already existing selection of local beer we have in the Pacific Northwest.

Salem, Oregon, please welcome Venti’s Cafe and Taphouse, which opened yesterday. My family and I went to check it out and we can gladly report that Venti’s taphouse is an amazing place to sample beers and get some great foot at the same time.

The location for Venti’s is quite convenient, no matter what part of town you live on as the restaurant and taphouse has set up shop on Commercial Street SE in the building that used to be home to Buster’s Barbeque. The owners of Venti’s did a complete remodel on the interior and the new look is stylish and modern.

The Venti’s Taphouse tries to be family friendly with an open feel and a dedicated kids area. As the Dad to a 1 and 4 year old, I can appreciate this, my daughters enjoyed the toys that could easily be retrieved from the kid’s area in the restaurant.

However, the joy of Venti’s Cafe and Taphouse is the beer selection. There are 24 rotating taps that feature all types of beer from throughout the Northwest. Additionally, there’s an amazing bottle and canned beer selection bringing the total to about 124 available beers.

I had the 10 Barrel India Summer Ale  from Bend, Oregon and my wife had the Dupont Saisan Farmhouse Ale and both were amazing. The India Summer Ale is refreshing and flavorful and the Farmhouse Ale is a German-style light ale, I’d describe it as a Kolsh type beer with a slight bite at the end.

The food selection spans pizzas, burgers, Asian inspired dishes such as Chicken teriyaki.  it’s a bit of a mish mash of food selection but you can guarantee that there’s something for everyone on the menu.

Conclusion

Overall the new Venti’s location (there’s one already downtown) is a welcome addition to the Salem restaurant scene. The amazing beer selection will impress any beer snow or connoisseur.  If you want to see what’s on tap right now, visit twitter.com/ventiscafe as the taplist changes so often.

Help Bring a New BrewPub to Salem

Author: Jason Harris
August 17, 2010

So over at Farmer Brewing, the guy behind the blog is an apprentice brewer who is from the mid-valley who is doing his apprenticeship up in the Tri-Cities area of Washington.

In his post titled “Is it Time, Salem“, he talks about how Salem is in need of a microbrwerey and asks whether we’d like a brewery here.  My answer (I left a comment) was a resounding YES, PLEASE!

As you can see by this site, I love good beer.  I really enjoy going to Bend, Oregon because there are 6+ microbreweries in and around town.  Corvallis has two breweries including Block 15 and Flat Tail Brewing.  Why can’t Oregon’s second largest city have it’s own locally owned brewery?!  We can, and we shall!

So, if you’re so inclined, head over to his post and encourage this young brewer to come back to Salem and open a microbrewery here in Oregon’s capital.  Let’s do this!

How Deschutes Makes Hop Trip Happen

Author: Jason Harris
September 28, 2009

Hop Trip Ale is a seasonal from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. It’s a great beer that is rich in hoppy flavor. I had no idea how much effort it takes to make this great beer.

Apparently the Bend crew drives over to Salem to get the hops themselves, right off the vine. This all happens in September each year.

Here’s a short film about the process. So cool!