The Oregon Trail To Beer

In 1845, a man named Joseph Avery came all the way from Illinois to stake out a land claim here on this side of the U.S. He said he knew that steamboats were going to come up that river (The Willamette) and he wanted a town there waiting for them. By 1850 there was a population of over 600 people. By 1870 there were 1200. And the only reason they could do it was because almost every person who showed up had to contribute. They built stores, and roads, and schools. The courthouse, the post office, and the first meeting hall, the Opera house. If they couldn’t build, they farmed. If they couldn’t farm, they taught, or transported, or communicated, or just plain gave what they had.

And yes, they built a brewery. Corvallis Brewery was both a beer brewery and distillery. Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of info on it. It burned in 1870, but along the same portion of river in 1987 a new incarnation of brewing appeared in the Old World Deli in Corvallis. After remodeling the corner of the deli building, they were up and running with 20 barrels a year. Now, just as they did then, all the grain is hauled all the way to the top story. When brewing, it is fed into a grain hopper that is set into the floor and feeds directly to the mash tun. It saves space in what is a very tiny (1800 sq feet vertically in three levels) brewery. It took hard work and cooperation to get that brewery up and running. Reinforcing floors and moving restrooms is not an easy task.


At the time there were only three other breweries in the entire state of Oregon. Widmer, Full Sail, and Bridgeport. Microbrews were still not popular at this time in Oregon. Even having to battle over every single tap handle they gained, Oregon Trail began to win over customers with their consistent brews. In 1989 they won a silver for Oregon Trail Brown at GABF. The brewery prospered and increased to 300 barrels per year.

Poised to increase to 1200 barrels per year, disaster struck. The owner at that time, Jerry Shadomy, fell into hard times and brewery suffered. They lost tap handles in the community and it seemed that Oregon Trail was destined to fail completely by mid 1992.

Dave Wills, who had assisted Shadomy in renovating the space for the brewery decided that he didn’t want to let this piece of history die after so much effort had been put into it. While he had other businesses such as Freshops demanding his time and expertise, he threw his efforts in with Oregon Trail. He redesigned fermenting, marketing, and packaging. Instead of just kegs, they began to bottle and present their microbrew in a new way to the public. This gained them valuable shelf space, and customers. Dave hired new brewers who helped create quality, dependable recipes. Other breweries and the public have contributed, and even today when a customer offers pounds of hops or other ingredients they grew in their backyard, Oregon Trail Brewery is only too happy to accept. This makes the community part of this brewery.

Today Oregon Trail Brewery is at full capacity, 1200 barrels. They have continued to improve packaging and marketing. They hire brewers who have surprised us with their interesting ideas and tasty recipes such as sours and beers created with wine yeast. Their flagship brown still continues to be a prominent seller although they have added a wit, a solid IPA, and a ginseng porter to their regular lineup. They provide kegs as well as bottled beers aged in casks. It’s the only brewery in Corvallis that offers party pigs for those who can’t afford or transport a full keg.

You can go right into the brewery itself and on most any day, the brewer is happy to talk to you, give you tour, and a taste from the bright tank. Dave himself is more than willing to talk to homebrewers or even share hop starts. Every fermentor has a name, every piece of equipment a story, and every brewer a different view.

Other breweries have taken on many of the ideals that Oregon Trail started with and even though other breweries in Corvallis have expanded, all the breweries in Corvallis are still willing to share ingredients and make the public part of brewery life. It’s the way that Corvallis started and it’s what we will remember about Oregon Trail Brewing. Cheers! 

Photos by Che Dean (







Friday Night Hangout – Celebrating Lagunitas Brewing

FNH - Celebrating Lagunitas


Friday Night Hangout – Celebrating Lagunitas Brewing

Episode 171 of the #FridayNightHangout is going to be a hopping time as we crack open a bunch of Lagunitas Brewing goodness.


For the uninitiated Lagunitas is pronounced LAH GOO KNEE TUSS

Hops Take Center Stage

Known for their hoppy beers, Lagunitas first opened its doors back in 1993 and has since grown into one of the largest craft breweries in the US.

Lagunitas IPA

IPA-Tap-Sticker_smallTheir Lagunitas IPA is the quintessential west coast style IPA with its grapefruit hoppy signature. Add in beers like Hop Stoopid and the world class Lagunitas Sucks and it’s easy to see why Lagunitas has a reputation for hoppy beers.

Mistakes Lead To Greatness

Some of Lagunitas most beloved beers were born out of mistakes in either the brewing process or scheduling.

Brown-Shugga-Tap-Sticker-smallBrown Shugga’ Was a failed attempt at their Olde GrarlyWine. Brewed with loads of actual brown sugar this is a big sweet malty craft beer with a generous amount of hops to perfectly balance it our.  Our own Gil Melo’s favorite.

When last we celebrated Lagunitas on our Friday Night Hangout it took a whole 37 seconds into our show before some Brown Shugga’ was on display.

Sucks-Tap-Sticker_smallLagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale came about after a scheduling mishap caused them to miss brewing that year’s batch of Brown Shugga’. This is a big tropical beast of a beer.  Loaded with barley, rye, wheat and malt, and dry hopped to perfection, Lagunitas Sucks is full of tropical fruits and resin on the nose and the taste buds. And we love those 32oz. bottles!

USA-Tap-Sticker_smallUndercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is craft beer commemorating that time back in 2005 when they were shut down for 20 days for some extracurricular activities.  This is a malty sweet beer with an earthy and citrusy hoppiness to balance it out.

For the story behind this:

Overall there’s a lot to explore when it comes to Lagunitas. They are one of the best and most consistent breweries out there. Whenever we see a new Lagunitas craft beer hit the market it is very quickly in our fridges soon to be opened and savored. Is it Friday Night yet?

Friday Night Hangout

Join us Friday, August 14, 2015 for #FridayNightHangout Episode 171.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you explored all the amazing Lagunitas beers yet? Have you been fortunate enough to find yourself in California and stopped in and had any at their source?

Share with us your Lagunitas experiences. Drop us a comment below or head on over to our Google Plus Event Page or our YouTube Page and comment there and look for us to share your comments on air.

We love sharing our new craft beer experiences and love to hear from others.


What To Watch

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Lancaster County is Bursting with Beer along Philly

When I tell people I live in Lancaster County, PA, people will shout, almost without thinking, “Amish.” The correlation of Amish and the Lancaster area is somewhat of a cultural/psychological experience ingrained in the minds of people in US.amish-buggy 

If someone comes to Lancaster and doesn’t experience the Amish tours, or drive to Philly and doesn’t climb the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts or stand on the top to pose like Rocky, a great disappointment will take over. Some might even imagine having done things they didn’t. Instead, they merely read about it or conceptualized it based on the things they fantasized doing while they were younger. It could be considered a type of “Paris Syndrome”. This is something much more common than people realize. You may catch spouses disagreeing about what one says they did on their vacation and the other will firmly disagree, saying “no, we didn’t”. There isn’t a deception here, both truly believe what they are saying. One just imagined doing it because of a lifetime of expectations.


Now when it comes to beer, the places that come first to peoples’ minds are places like San Diego, Denver, Michigan, Asheville…any place but the peaceful and bucolic, horse-pulled buggy lands of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. For the past decade, something new has been taking over of the eastern population of Pennsylvania. Craft Beer! Within 30 to 90 minutes of driving, one can find a more than a handful of breweries, bottle shops, and restaurants dedicated to delivering quality craft beer libations. The beer Scene in Eastern PA has grown so much, it surprises me a stronger beer tourism business in the area has not been developed. Because of taxes and regulations, Pennsylvania is far from being a “cheap” state to get a pint of your favorite brew. Never the less, the craft beer followers are multiplying and are being very faithful to the local breweries and craft beer bars.

There are some well-known breweries in the area or close to Lancaster/Philly that date back to the mid-1990s and the late 1980s:  Victory, Tröegs, Sly Fox, Stoudt’s, Weyerbacher, YardsIron Hill and some much older like Yuengling, operating since 1829. Among a newer class are some that are making some amazing beer and gaining momentum: Spring House, Lancaster Brewing Co., St. Boniface and and Tired Hands. I love knowing that I can have some friends over for a few days and the Tap Room Spring House Brewing Co.diversity of beer available will leave everyone satisfied.

Still skeptical? Eastern Pennsylvania has much more to offer when it comes to craft beer. You can experience more than just what the locals offer. With excellent beer distribution to a sizable number of bottle shops and craft beer bars, you can get brews from Stone to 21st Amendment, from Ale Smith to Six Point, from Lost Abbey to Firestone Walker…you get the idea.

One of my favorites to visit is the Federal Tap House in Lancaster. They offer more than 100 beers on tap. Also in Lancaster, is The Fridge (amazing pizza), or Hunger’n’Thirsty (great food), and a great bottle shop that you will find me in regularly, The Friendly Greek (more than 500 beers!). Take a drive through the country side toward Philly and enjoy more places with great beer. The Abbaye, The Belgian Café, and TJ’s Restaurant and Drinkery (with more than 250 beers on their list) are just some examples of this craft beer culture that has TJ'sdeveloped in Eastern Pennsylvania. (I could mention so many more bars and Breweries like Dock Street that are amazing). You can even take to the small town of Mount Joy and visit the Catacombs of Bube’s Brewery (pronounce Boobs) an intact historic 19th century brewery and museum complex and their Ghost Tours. In any case, the craft beer enthusiast won’t be disappointed in a visit to the Keystone State, and for those like me that will often travel with the wife and kids, Pennsylvania provides some great craft beer places that have wonderful food and very family friend environment. You want more. Just head to the Harrisburg?York where you will find lots of great places to enjoy craft beers.

You will enjoy the beautiful scenery and have fun exploring the numerous places to drink some wonderful craft beer. And don’t forget to take home some real whoopie pies. Cheers!!!

Brewery List

Sly Fox – Potstown
Stoudt’s – Adamstown
Weyerbacker – Easton
Yards – Philly
Iron Hill – Philly / Lancaster
Yuengling – Potsville
Victory – Downintown
Tröegs – Hershey
Spring House – Lancaster
Lancaster Brewing
St. Boniface – Ephrata
Tired Hands – Ardmore
Liquid Hero – York
Appalachian Brewing Co. – Harrisburg/Lititz
Bube’s Brewery – Lancaster
Dock Street – Philly
Philadelphia Brewing Co. – Philly
Triumph Brewing – Philly
Fegley’s Brew Works – Bethlehem
Rumspringa Brewing – Lancaster
Saucony Creek Brewing – Kutztown
Als of Hampden / Pizza Boy Brewing Co – Enola
Manayunk Brewery – Philadelphia
Crime and Punishment – Philadelphia
Conshohocken Brewing Co. – Conshohocken
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery – King of Prussia

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