My next review is from the smallest micro (nano?) brewery that I have been to yet. Located in the “brewing district” of Salem, Oregon, Bine Valley is truly the definition of a small craft brewery and hole in the wall joint. With the tap room and brew floor blending together, it allows you to feel like you are there from inception to completion with their beers. Grab a cold one and read on as I walk you through one of Salem’s newest and smallest brewing adventures.
- Beer – The tap list is small, with only seven beers brewed in small batches offered currently. That being said, small batches do not equal small quality. It also means more opportunities for different beers on tap and more chances to show off your skills at brewing, which they do well. IPAs currently dominate the list but they offer a few darker beers for those of us with a stout addiction. My favorite was the Cascadian dark beer however the porter was a close second. Being a small nanobrewery inherently means a small tap however it doesn’t mean you should slack on quality, a concept which I think they accomplish well. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – Here you can watch the brew master work his or her craft while enjoying the fruits of their labor a few feet away at the bar. With the tap room and brew floor contiguous, you really get the sense of being in a working brewery. The interior is spartan, reflecting its utility as a flex space in a small industrial park, yet it does not detract from the overall appeal. The seating area is small but tasteful, with a handful of tables scattered around and a few spots at the bar. A slightly larger outdoor area completes the picture. They do not offer any food now nor did I see evidence of a food truck list. Their hours are limited compared to some of the other more established breweries nearby, but that is to be expected considering how nascent they are. Expect to pay around $5 for a pint which is comparable to other places in the area. Score: 3/5
- Ambiance – For a brewery as new and small as they are, there was a steady stream of folks coming and going. This tells me they possess a certain appeal that will keep folks coming back, and I could certainly see that when there. The atmosphere was relaxed and open, the brewers/owners loved talking with everyone that came to the bar. They had a few board games but no televisions and only a few events listed on their page. In time as they grow I’m sure they will create new ways to encourage folks to stay but as it stands I still liked the feel of this place. It encourages you to sit, relax, and chat with your fellow patrons. Score: 3/5
- Location – A bit hard to find from the road although they attempt to ameliorate this with some signage. Being in a more industrial area, there is not much else around in terms of entertainment and food save for a few other breweries. Parking is not an issue however, but make sure you call a cab or a designated driver when moving on to somewhere else for dinner, otherwise it is a long walk. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – Open and friendly, I was greeted warmly when we came in and all my beer related questions were answered. My drinks were poured quickly and I was checked out with the same speed. Despite the place being relatively full, they kept things moving, not allowing anyone to wait any length of time. Though they don’t offer table service, they do have quality customer service all around, I was quite happy with my visit. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 16/25
Final Thoughts: A new brewery in Salem’s growing beer scene, I think they have a lot of potential to produce quality beers. I would certainly recommend stopping by, even if you are just passing through Salem, to sample their small batch beers. I will definitely keep them in my rotation and look forward to trying other creations in the future.