Editor in chief
October is a time for falling leaves and carving pumpkins, and, for millions around the world, it is a time for beer drinking. Right here in McMinnville it is possible to satisfy your thirst with unique and traditional brews.
The present season for brews started in Munich, Germany, with the first Oktoberfest in 1810, held in celebration of the marriage of a Bavarian prince. Today, the festival is 16 days long, usually ending in the first week of October, and features German food, music and strong, dark beers.
Unknown to many, there are traditional German beers brewing in the heart of Yamhill County.
“We’re living right in the middle of one of the most creative microbrewing areas in the world,” Mark Vickery, brewmaster at Golden Valley Brewery, said.
Vickery knows what he’s talking about. He’s been brewing for 20 years and is the man behind the beer at GVB, a local favorite.
Vickery’s current seasonal brews are the Oktoberfest, a German style lager with a smooth, velvety taste, and the Tanenbaum, a strong ale he calls a winter warmer.
“It has big malty notes, balancing the hop characters,” he said. “And with eight-percent alcohol, it’s the most bang for your buck.”
Another local expert is Rick Allen, brewer and owner of Heater Allen Brewing. Allen started his one-man operation about two years ago and went from brewing on a 20-gallon system to a 200-gallon system.
After honing his homebrewing hobby for more than 16 years and working in the wine industry, Allen began to sell his brews.
“I decided to open up a brewery and run it like a small winery,” he said. “It makes life interesting.”
And that is what he has done here in McMinnville. Allen sells directly to customers, whether it be to individuals, who buy by the bottle or case, or local restaurants, such as La Rambla Restaurant and Bar, Nick’s Italian Café and Bistro Maison, that buy by the keg.
He makes only a few different brews at a time, all of which are lagers. Lagers are made from malt and hops, as opposed to ales, which are made from yeast and hops, Allen said.
His current seasonal brew is Bobtoberfest, a smooth, crisp beer named after his late brother who inspired his interest in brewing.
“I try to base my seasonal [brews] off of traditional German beers,” Allen said.
Unlike other Oregon brewers, Allen imports all his grains from Germany and other areas of Europe. He is constantly trying out different flavors.
“I kind of have a good palette for the flavors,” he said. “I can munch on the grains and taste what it will be like.”
Though GVB and Heater Allen are the only brewers in McMinnville, there are plenty of microbreweries close by. Festivals showcasing these brewers include the coming Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, Dec. 4-7 at Pioneer Court House Square, and the Oregon Brews and BBQs Festival held in McMinnville, June 19-20.
“Take advantage of [being in this area] while you’re young,” Vickery said. “And get to know good brews.”
There are plenty of opportunities to please your taste buds nearby, so grab your pint and start sipping.
Heater Allen Brewing
907 NE 10th Ave.
No regular business hours, on-site most days and Fridays from 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
5 gallon keg: $70
7.5 gallon keg: $100
Golden Valley Brewery
980 NE 4th St.
7.5 gallon keg: $75
15.5 gallon keg: $135
There are non-alcoholic beers, beers with less than .05 percent alcohol by volume, that can be purchased in Oregon by people under the age of 21.
Few commercial breweries make non- or low-alcohol beer; however, there are a few that are imported.
Some that do are:
Anchor Brewing Company