Block 15 Brewing
300 SW Jefferson Ave., Corvallis, 541-758-2077, block15.com. 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday. 3415 SW Deschutes St., Corvallis, 541-752-2337. 3-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-10 pm Friday-Saturday, 11:30 am-9 pm Sunday.
BLOCK PARTY / Before Nick Arzner opened Block 15 in 2008, he scoured the nation's breweries for inspiration. The budding beer maker wasn't impressed by what he found. It's hard to imagine a time when tap lists weren't ever-changing kaleidoscopes, but more than a dozen years ago, consumers would typically encounter a standard lineup of six or seven beers along with perhaps one or two that would make a brief seasonal appearance. That was too static for Arzner. Eventually, he stumbled across a producer in a Detroit suburb with several dozen handles always in flux. That experience prompted Arzner to launch Block 15 with half the taps always in rotation, and he hasn't stopped setting ambitious goals since. The brewery's 1926 brick building doesn't look like a hub of innovation, but the pub houses one of the state's first coolships, an open-top, flat fermentation vessel, and pours a wide variety from nearly 20 taps, including a wheat ale made with fresh stone fruit that tastes as delicate as a kiss on the forehead from the Sugar Plum Fairy, and a robust porter brewed with maple syrup and conditioned on American sugar maple wood. How have I come this far and not mentioned Sticky Hands, the brewery's perennially popular double IPA? Sure, you can get it around Portland, but a beer this dank deserves to be sampled fresh and as close to the source as possible. Andi Prewitt.
Flat Tail Brewing
202 SW 1st St., Corvallis, 541-758-2229, flattailcorvallis.com. Noon-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.
BEAVER DEN / Dave Marliave has an audacious streak. Every year, the Flat Tail brewmaster mounts his motorcycle and rides from Corvallis to San Diego in a single day to raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society. When he got his first piece of hate mail, Marliave didn't whine or rebut on social media but instead tattooed the name of the disgruntled patron, Ron, alongside a heart on one ass cheek. And last year, when a 10 Barrel rig bearing Flat Tail's "Dam Good Beer" slogan rolled through town, Marliave called out the AB InBev-owned brand, which responded by challenging him to a "boat race." Guess what the name of one of his newest IPAs is? Boat Race, the menu reads, is "so good, the recipe might end up on the side of a semi truck." That brash attitude extends to Flat Tail's complex and well-crafted beers, particularly sours or anything Marliave decides to toss in the "experimental" category. It's easy to dismiss Flat Tail as a sports bar: The walls are festooned in Oregon State University pennants and jerseys, and the signature colors are orange and black. But this isn't a brewery for White Claw-shotgunning frat boys. Sure, you are likely to overhear banter about final exam prep or OSU basketball, but most college bars are unlikely to serve anything like Penumbra, a dark sour blend aged for more than a year in stainless steel, that drinks like a molten chocolate raspberry cake. Andi Prewitt.
Mazama Brewing at Big River Restaurant & Bar
101 NW Jackson Ave., Corvallis, 541-757-0694, mazamabrewing.com. 11 am-2 pm and 4-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-2 pm and 4-10 pm Friday, 4-9 pm Saturday-Sunday. 955 NE Orenco Station Loop, Hillsboro, 503-352-4150. 11 am-10 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-10 pm Saturday, 10 am-9 pm Sunday.
EUROZONE / Mazama's recently acquired downtown restaurant, Big River, is a confusingly transportive experience. The dining room, with its maroon-and-teal color scheme, brass chandeliers and upholstered booths, is a trip straight back to your hometown's fanciest night out for a family meal, circa 1995. The beers, meanwhile, are infused with the history of European brewing. While there is an IPA to satisfy that category of drinkers who never veer off course, stick to the Belgian classics. Saison D'Etre is an award-winning spice rack of coriander, black pepper and orange peel—flavors Mazama's owners found so compelling during a trip to Belgium, they raced back stateside to share them with you. At nearly 8 percent ABV, the Belgian Blonde is almost too mellow, but the gentle blend of fruity esters and the warming flavor of clove help it go down smooth. Order your pint at the floor-to-ceiling cherry bar with rough-hewn edges—the one handsome feature in the room. Andi Prewitt.
Sky High Brewing and Pub
160 NW Jackson Ave., Corvallis, 541-207-3277, skyghighbrewing.com. 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.
HIGH RISE / Sky High is Corvallis' Empire State Building. That may sound like an exaggeration—it's only four stories tall—but in the city's adorable Main Street, U.S.A.-style downtown, that makes it a skyscraper. An elevator shoots you straight to one of the best patios in the Willamette Valley, but take the stairs to explore every inside layer, including mezzanine seating that's basically an observation deck hovering over the 10-barrel system. That's where head brewer Paul Harwood has been improving his techniques since 2014, following some hands-on experience at nearby Oregon Trail Brewery, the long-standing training grounds for many of Corvallis' beer makers. He can now successfully execute everything from a biscuity, true-to-style Bohemian Pils to a winter ale that seemingly uses the reclaimed bones of every gingerbread house in town. But a recent standout was St. Filbert's Porter. As the name suggests, Harwood brewed the beer with buttery hazelnuts grown on nearby Kiger Island, resulting in an ebony sipper with notes of chocolate. Take it to the sprawling rooftop bar and slide into an Adirondack—the best seat in the house to watch the sun slip behind the expansive Coast Range. Andi Prewitt.