The Beer Here: Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month with These Salem Area Breweries
From veteran breweries to upstart pubs in big cities and small towns alike, there’s never been a better time to be a craft beer fan in Oregon. And given that February is Oregon Craft Beer Month, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the breweries that make the Salem area so special. So whether you’re celebrating Oregon Craft Beer Month or are looking for refreshing beers all year long, here’s a look at nine game-changing breweries in Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley.
Local Ingredients Take Center Stage at Gilgamesh Brewing
The Salem-based Gilgamesh Brewing opened its doors in 2009—and has since featured ingredients grown across the Mid-Willamette Valley in a variety of fascinating (and tasty) ways.
Its beers, for instance, have incorporated blueberries, pumpkins, mint, hazelnuts, and peaches—and every autumn, the brewery works with farms in Marion and Polk counties to source hops for a rotating lineup of crisp, juicy fresh-hop beers.
These days, you’ll find two Gilgamesh locations in Salem and a third in downtown Independence; naturally, the food menus at those pubs feature a variety of Oregon-grown and Oregon-produced ingredients.
Santiam Brewing Gets Creative With Ales and Lagers
Santiam Brewing sits in an industrial park at the southeastern edge of Salem, where it’s been churning out an inventive variety of brews since 2012.
These days, the community-minded pub pours more than a dozen of its own beers and ciders (the latter crafted with Pacific Northwest apples), including a lineup of cask-conditioned “real ales” that reflect an English pub experience; the beers are conditioned in a cask, rather than a keg, which cuts down on carbonation but imbues the resulting ale (typically served warmer than one might expect) with a balanced flavor profile. Santiam pours four house-made and guest cask ales at any given time, making it one of the largest purveyors of the style in the region.
In addition to the thoughtfully crafted beers and ciders, Santiam’s taproom dishes an English-inspired food menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner favorites. Other fun attractions include live music, trivia nights, and comedy nights.
For Tomorrow We Die Becomes one of Salem’s Newest Breweries
Southeast Salem has long been a reliable base for the city’s industry—but in recent years, a number of breweries have moved into these spartan spaces, setting up shop and turning the quiet corner of the city into a bustling destination. One of the area’s newest breweries is For Tomorrow We Die Brewing Co., which launched in 2022.
The brewery's offerings include a full-bodied stout, a citrus-tinged pale ale, and a caramel-esque red ale; that said, For Tomorrow We Die brews its beers with an eye toward seasonality—so the lineup changes frequently. (That means visitors can expect more stouts and porters in winter, for instance, and a few lagers in spring and summer.)
Beyond the beer and a full bar, For Tomorrow We Die features a fun pub experience that includes a few pinball machines, an honest-to-goodness tree growing out of the center of one table, and food from an on-site outpost inspired by Taproot Lounge & Café, a downtown Salem staple since 2015.
Shades of Brew Forged by Friendship
For years, Bine Valley Brewing was a Salem institution; the brewery opened in 2017, became a local mainstay over the years, and in late 2022, quietly closed while recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Bine Valley never exactly shut down; rather, the brewery's former co-owner teamed up with a local taphouse co-owner to launch what would become Shades of Brew, which crafted its first beer in 2022.
Shades of Brew, started by two longtime friends, features nearly 30 taps at its pub in Northeast Salem (a second taproom in South Salem is also open); there, visitors can try an eclectic lineup of house-made beers (from an IPA boasting hearty tropical fruit flavors to heavy imperial stout) alongside guest taps from regional breweries and cider makers.
On-site food carts provide a variety of fare, the pub itself serves pizza, and a busy event calendar includes live music, trivia nights, and Bingo nights.
TopWire Hop Project Redefines Beer Gardens in Woodburn
The Willamette Valley has a long history with growing hops, one of the key ingredients in beer: Local farmers planted the region's first hops in the 1860s, Oregon became the top hop-growing state in the nation by 1905, and in the 1930s, Polk County was known as the "Hop Center of the World."
You’ll still see hop fields around the mid-Willamette Valley today—including at Crosby Hop Farm, which in 2020 opened TopWire Hop Project in the middle of one of its hop fields.
The beer garden centers around a converted shipping container that features nearly a dozen taps of regional craft beers and ciders—all using hops grown in the surrounding fields. In essence, that means it’s possible to sip a crisp IPA or hearty stout in view of where its ingredients were grown.
TopWire is open weekends between May and October, and while the views are always enchanting, hop bines grow to 10 feet or higher by late August and enclose the beer garden in a veritable wall of hops. A food truck is on site most days, delivery is available from Luis's Taqueria in nearby Woodburn, and a variety of light snacks are available from the main bar.
Finding Community at Snow Peak Brewing, Stayton’s Only Brewery
Just outside of Salem, where the Willamette Valley slowly begins rising into the Cascade foothills, sits Snow Peak Brewing—Stayton’s first brewery and a community mainstay since 2019.
Led by a group of friends, Snow Peak opened in an old brick building in the heart of downtown—a friendly brewpub that boasts plenty of natural light. Its lineup includes Snow Peak’s ales and lagers, as well as guest taps from regional breweries and cider makers. Food carts are occasionally on site, and visitors can enjoy it all in a comfortable tasting room or on the brewery’s cozy patio. Snow Peak also works to build community through a variety of events that include paint-and-sip nights, trivia nights, Bingo fundraisers, live music, stand-up comedy, and more.
Benedictine Brewery Crafts Beer Using Centuries-Old Monastic Traditions
The Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey is one of only a handful of breweries owned and operated by monks in the United States. The monks use hops grown on Abbey land and water from their well to craft a variety of beers, including their flagship brew, Black Habit – a dark, malty beer that’s gained accolades from beer critics across the county.
Brewery operations are overseen by Fr. Martin Grassel, a long-time craft beer enthusiast, who has been with the Abbey since he began seminary in 1995. Visitors are encouraged to gather at the St. Michael Taproom, located on the Abbey grounds, where they can sip and savor the beers along with locally sourced charcuterie and small bites.
Silver Falls Brewery Boasts Quality Beers, Comfortable Pub in Silverton
Silver Falls Brewery opened in downtown Silverton in 2015, instantly becoming a community mainstay and one of the most popular stops in town. So popular was the brewery, it underwent a major expansion in 2019 and 2020 to increase seating capacity and boost its output.
Today, Silver Falls pours nearly two dozen of its own craft beers, with a variety of styles that includes an easy-drinking pilsner, Mexican lager, floral IPA, slightly tart raspberry wheat beer, and even a chocolate-tinged stout. Its pub, meanwhile, comprises a spacious taproom, a ground-level patio (where several tables include gas-powered fire pits), and a second-floor deck.
Parallel 45 Brewing Grows in Independence
When the brand-new Parallel 45 Brewing wrapped up construction on its brewpub in downtown Independence in October 2020, the brewery did so at a precarious time: COVID-19 cases were rising, and indoor dining restrictions would be implemented just three weeks later.
But where some breweries might have panicked, the brain trust at Parallel 45 sought out a mobile canning line for to-go orders and quickly built a covered, heated outdoor seating area to weather the proverbial storm.
More than two years later, however, restrictions have been lifted—and Parallel 45 is thriving with an ever-changing lineup of quality craft beers, all of which pair well with fare from on-site food carts. The easy-drinking lineup includes the occasional saison, a crisp Vienna lager, a wintry Schwarzbier, and a few balanced IPAs.
Gilgamesh Brewing- The River
307 S. Main Street
Independence, Oregon 97351 (503) 871-6688
Gilgamesh Brewing- The River307 S. Main Street
Independence, Oregon 97351
BENEDICTINE BREWERY AND TAPROOM
440 Humpert Ln. NE,
Mt. Angel, Oregon 97362 (971) 343-2772
BENEDICTINE BREWERY AND TAPROOM440 Humpert Ln. NE,
Mt. Angel, Oregon 97362