121 SW H St., Grants Pass, 541-508-2337, Connerfields.com. 11 am to 9 pm Monday, closed Tuesday, 11 am-10 pm Wednesday-Thursday, 11 am to midnight Friday-Saturday, 11 am to 10 pm Sunday.
Jon Conner, the brewer and founder of this brewery in Grants Pass, got his start as a sculptor in Brooklyn. When he moved West, he started making beer, which was originally sold from a beer stand at the local farmers market. He developed a strong local following and opened a public house in downtown Grants Pass, called The Haul. Conner built half the furniture in The Haul, including the beautiful bars upstairs and downstairs, using salvaged barn planks and wood from a bowling alley. "To me it's kind of a sculpture," he says. "It's really DIY." The walls are bare brick, with reinforced steel criss-crossing the whole place in case of an earthquake. None of the brews here are distributed northward quite yet, so bring a growler if you want a souvenir. Robot Small is a dry-hopped rice lager inspired by Japanese brewing that's citrusy and light, making it great to pair with spicy takeout. The brewery itself is situated among vineyards, so Conner uses barrels from neighbors to make beers, like a Zin Saison, which is fermented with zinfandel grapes to get a crisp, tart flavor and a rosy hue.
Nearby: If you're anywhere in Southern Oregon, chances are you're near a branch of Wild River, a chain of old-school pizza spots that make their own beer. The flagship location, and the 30-barrel brewery that supplies several other locations, is in Grants Pass (595 Northeast "E" St., Grants Pass, 541-471-7487, wildriverbrewing.com).
by Kelly Kenoyer