July 7th, 2023

What’s Brewing in McMinnville?

A person with a ForeLand Beer hat on crouches down to inspect beer brewing equipment.
ForeLand Beer Owner David Sanguinetti. Photo by Aaron Lee.

For a town that is still considered rural by most standards, McMinnville has quite a few breweries.  Check out what’s brewing this summer.

McMinnville is home to two gluten free breweries.  Bierly Brewing’s Ames Bierly, tells me that there are 20 gluten free breweries in the US and 5 of them are in Oregon.  Bierly Brewing, Oregon Beer Awards best small brewery of 2023, is looking forward to participating in Dine Out(Side) again this summer.  They are collaborating with Troon Vineyard and Chris James Cellars to bring live music to their block every Saturday evening.  They’ll be pouring their award winning beers as well as serving some great gluten free food, such as sandwiches, onion rings, corn dogs salads, donuts, cookies and more.

Rebecca and Josh Gordon, the new owners of gluten free Evasion Brewing, will be reopening their tasting room, though “the process of getting all the required licensing and permits transferred with the change in ownership is taking longer than expected.” They say. “We are making good progress and we are excited to welcome you in as soon as these things are finalized!”  While the brewery has often experimented with new styles, they plan on reestablishing the brand as customers know it.  “We wanted to get started by reintroducing our flagship beers, without modification,” says Josh.  That being said, they do have a single barrel pilot system, allowing some room for creativity.  “Customers visiting our tasting room will get the chance to experience our exploration, and help us decide what works and what they love.”  Evasion is also planning to have food options available and will be open Thursday – Sunday.

Heater Allen Brewing is also working on improving their tasting experience.  They have moved their cellar into the space next door, making room to expand their taproom.  The kid and dog friendly outdoor patio will be evolving as the summer progresses.  Heater Allen has a new label, Gold Dot Beer, with their first beer, a Helles Lager, called Gold Dot Lager.  Established by head brewer Lisa Allen and partner Kevin Davey, Gold Dot Beer provides an opportunity for them to experiment with different types of malt as well as styles of beer that Heater Allen doesn’t make, such as IPAs.  You can find Gold Dot on tap as well as Heater Allen’s new seasonal, 16, commemorating their 16th anniversary, on Fridays from 2-7 on and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-6.

ForeLand Beer has been steadily making changes to their taproom as well, making it a more comfortable, family-friendly place to taste.   Neely’s Food Truck continues to take up residency at ForeLand Wednesday – Sunday.  ForeLand brewer, Noah Palmer, who joined the team a year ago, has been working on some summer beers, including a collab beer with Sauvie Island’s Topaz Farm, as well as a Mexican Lager, and a summer fruit beer with raspberry, cherry and pomegranate.  Try them at the taproom, perhaps during upcoming events, such as music, pop-ups or even the kick-off concert for Walnut City Music Festival in September.  Keep an eye on ForeLand’s social media pages for announcements.

Located in McMinnville’s Granary District, Grain Station Brew Works is a favorite among locals.  Linfield graduate, Joe D’Aboy, Grain Station’s head brewer for 7 years, has already released their summer seasonals, including the Sprout Hefeweizen, Farmhouse Saison, Buying Vinyl, and others that you can read about in detail on their website.  Owner Jeff Glodt says, “The beer scene [in McMinnville] is continuing to improve.  I can tell you this much: People come from all over the country specifically for the beer.”  This summer, you can expect to see some live music on Grain Station’s stage, with ticketed dinner-and-a-show events.  Keep an eye on their website for more details, and in the meantime, don’t miss their happy hour.  Enjoy $1 off drinks and most beers Monday-Friday from 3-5:30pm.  

Speaking of happy hour, Golden Valley Brewery offers one of the best in town.  On weekdays from 3-6pm, they offer discounts on beer and well drinks.  This summer, their brewmaster Piper Gladwell, who joined the Golden Valley team in 2015, will have an extra special beer on tap: an Oregon Marionberry Lager, meant to commemorate their 30th year in business.  Pair Gladwell’s beer with a dish from their summer menu, which highlights organic produce from Golden Valley’s 76 acre Angus Springs Farm, just outside of McMinnville.  Don’t miss out on the beef dishes, as very happy cattle are raised on the farm as well, and are fed a diet rich in the spent grain from Golden Valley’s beer.

If this beer trail isn’t enough for you, you can check out several tap rooms as well. In the downtown core, you’ll find, Two Dogs Taphouse, The Bitter Monk, and McMenamins Hotel Oregon. Or beyond downtown, you’ll find Growlers Tap Station and Mac Taps, both on OR 99W.

James Howe (she/her), editor of CRUSH, McMinnville’s arts & culture publication, has lived in McMinnville since 2009. Some of her favorite McMinnville memories include playing the flute in the Second Winds Community Band, acting on stage at Gallery Theater, and co-founding Make Music McMinnville.