I was surprised to learn of a brewery close to home that I had yet to visit, so my next review is from my immediate rectification of that oversight. Three Sheets Brewery and Taproom is a true nanobrewery and labor of love in Albany, Oregon. Open for less than a year and located in the downtown area, this cozy little tap room features some surprisingly delightful beers and a scrumptious food menu, giving Albany a much-needed boost in the craft beer and nightlife scene. Grab a beer, grab a seat, and keep reading to see what I thought of this snug little brewery.
- Beer – An interesting mix of beers fill out the tap list, with IPAs and German/Belgian style beers comprising most of the options, though they did have a stout, a sour, and a wee heavy to round out some other styles when I stopped in. I think I drank one of the best beers I’ve had this year here called the Double Canopy IPA, a 9.5% ABV hop bomb that drank so smooth I had to remind myself not to have more than one (or two). Despite this being the hop-saturated PNW and considering myself to be inured to IPAs, I was suitably impressed. I hope it is still on tap if you have a chance to go, but if not, all their other beers are well crafted, displaying a surprising depth of flavor, and will not disappoint. Score: 4/5
- Brewery – Intimate. Snug. All of these could be used to describe the tap room, reminiscent in design of a shotgun style house so common in bygone eras. The lighting is dim, with scattered Edison lamps welcoming you in to the vaguely Old-World style pub. Wood accents, wooden tables, and a recessed fireplace on the back wall all contribute to the subtle yet tasteful decorations and mood. Seating is limited to about half a dozen tables and a perfectly sized bar. The food menu is limited, consisting mostly of pub-style appetizers (pretzels, hummus, etc.), macaroni and cheese (delicious) and one true meal: the wurst plate. Staying true to their German theme, you can order a Bavarian style meal of a sausage, German potato salad, pretzel, and sauerkraut. Just enough food to fill you up, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it since I’ve never been a huge fan of kraut or potato salad. The prices are reasonable and on par with you would find elsewhere in the PNW, though their hours leave a bit to be desired as they are only open Thursday through Saturday and only a few hours each day. Score: 3/5
- Ambiance – The way the tap room is designed really encourages small groups of friends to spend a night in conversation while drinking with minimal distractions. There are no televisions, no live music (not even sure where you could fit a drum set), and few events listed on their Facebook page, though they are hosting an Octoberfest event this year I want to check out. While I appreciate the more intimate atmosphere, more fitting for a date night than a large group, I would love to see other things to help draw in more people. For the time being Albany’s craft beer scene remains small and it is not much of an issue, but should more competition appear, they will need more than just the strength of their beers to draw in customers. That being said, they are still new and have plenty of room to grow. Score: 2/5
- Location – Downtown Albany, Oregon is an interesting mix of restaurants, small businesses, and empty storefronts. The taproom is located right on first street in the heart of downtown, giving the intrepid beer adventurer plenty of options for food and entertainment should you wish to venture forth. Look for the sign out on the sidewalk or the one hanging from the store front as the brewery is so small that you might pass right by if you aren’t paying attention. As for other things to do, the mighty Willamette river is only blocks away, as is the crown jewel of Albany: a massive indoor carousel and museum that is a must see when you are in town. Parking is not an issue with both street and lot parking available all around. Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – The bar keep was also the owner and head brewer. He was a pleasant person to chat with and was great about answering my questions, letting me taste a few beers before deciding, and making sure my table did not need anything. Despite the place filling up he still managed to keep the beer and food flowing smoothly and quickly. This is very much a customer-centric business and I hope it stays that way as they continue to grow. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 16.5/25
Final Thoughts: A small town brewery with a lot of heart and some great beers, 3 Sheets is worth the visit if you live close by or are passing through Albany. I will continue to follow them and visit for as long as I live in the area. If you do stop in, be sure to try the IPAs, even in such a hop saturated area as the PNW they stood out to me!