Stop two in our visit to Salem brought us a short distance down the road to Gilgamesh Brewing. Home of some fantastically pun-ny beer names and a well-designed tap room, Gilgamesh is an interesting entry in the overlooked Salem beer scene, but a few too many flaws keep them from the top tier. Try not to laugh too hard as you hear some of their names while you read through our review!
- Beer – If I scored based on names alone, they would have a perfect one. From Shalom Y’all, Hopscotch (for a Scottish ale, get it?), DJ Jazzy Hef, and many others, I was cracking up while reading the menu, despite my wife probably thinking I was an idiot. Sadly though, creative names do not always a good beer make. The trend I noticed was their specialty beers were quite good (the Turkish coffee stout was amazing) while the year-round offerings were average for the most part. They did offer a nice variety of styles and attempts at unique flavoring, so I give credit there, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the lack of complexity to many of their regulars. Score: 3/5
- Brewery – The building looked brand new and was very well designed. The tasting room reminded me a bit of a railroad station meets old west saloon on the inside. The best part was the working fireplace with cozy couches set around it and a gorgeously appointed bar. Even better, they have a spacious outdoor seating area and a working kitchen. With a full food menu and a large projector screen on the wall, this would be a great location for sporting events or even to rent out for parties or meetings. Though they seem to have many fundraising events and beer release parties, I didn’t see much in the way of live music space which to me is an integral part of having a brewery and tap room. Aside from that, this was a well put together place and I was a fan of how they designed and executed their vision for a brewery. Score: 4/5
- Ambiance – It felt a bit sterile here, meaning they did not do much to create the ambiance of wanting you to stay and enjoy as much craft beer as you want. This felt more like a restaurant, wanting you to get in, order, consume, and move on. I did not see any areas for games, indoor or outdoor, the television was not on despite being at the beginning of March Madness, and the entire place felt muted, even on a Sunday afternoon. When you go to well established breweries, you can always pick out the regulars, the folks who are there and having a good time. I did not see any of that here and it made wonder what was missing. Sure, perhaps I came at the wrong time, but the vibe I felt here was not one that encouraged you to stay. Despite the beautiful tap room with the comfy couches by the fire, I’m not sure this would be a place I would frequent often based on that feeling. Score: 2.5/5
- Location – Located on the south side of Salem, there is not much around that isn’t large factories or industrial complexes. The brewery itself is tucked back off the road with the tap room right next door. There is plenty of parking and it is easy to find from the road. Really the only major detraction is the lack of other things to do within walking distance however there are several other breweries a short car ride down the road (always use a designated driver and don’t drink and drive!). Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – I’m usually pretty forgiving when it comes to customer service, having worked in the field before. That being said, I was not particularly impressed with it here. I felt like we were inconveniencing everyone, from the hostess to our waitress. While not downright rude, the service was perfunctory and met the minimum standards. There was also a bit of unprofessionalism as I overheard a few of the kitchen and wait staff gossiping about fellow employees or other aspects of the job. This is an important part of being a brew pub and it reflects a bit on management and the core values of the business. Maybe it was just an off day, but I hope they work on making the customer feel more welcome in the future. Score: 2.5/5
Total Score: 15.5/25
Final Thoughts: A brewery with a lot of potential, they fall flat on some key points. I think the strength of their seasonal brews can somewhat make up for the quality of the regulars however the lack of ambiance and customer service are hard to overlook. I won’t write them off completely and am willing to give them a second chance however I have a hard time recommending you stop by until they fix these issues.