Back in McMinnville to visit the air and space museum (side note: if you are in the area, be sure to stop at Evergreen Aviation and Space museum, it is well worth the trip) I decided to check another brewery off the list that I missed last time I was here, and grab dinner to boot. Golden Valley has been crafting beer since 1993, making them one of Oregon’s oldest craft breweries, and has grown in to a large brewery and restaurant operation in the heart of downtown McMinnville. So grab a beer, sit back, and relax as I recount my visit to this golden oldie.
- Beer – The tap list was extensive and varied, showing off a nice range of styles from IPAs to a few barrel aged and sour offerings, with several dark beers thrown in for good measure. My favorite was, of course, a stout however in general I thought all of their beers were well done, providing depth and nuance with every sip. It would be nice to see some more adventurous, experimental beers on the tap list that utilize unusual ingredients (aside from the barrel aged beers), but that is a minor quibble and by no means diminishes the quality of work and range of beers they have produced. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – Cavernous, spacious, and everything in between. Seriously, the main dining area is vaguely reminiscent of a great hall, with dim lighting, vaulted ceilings, and ample seating room. Tucked around the corner is a slightly smaller yet still large bar seating and a gorgeous recycled bar who’s first life was in a downtown Portland hotel. Hidden away is a private room for events and right outside is a small patio area that I’m sure is lovely during the summers. The food menu is equally extensive, ranging from lighter happy hour plates to full sized entrees, all at reasonable prices for the area, with an emphasis on the farm to table aspect. Many of the ingredients come from the nearby ranch the founders of the brewery own, including most of the produce and beef. On the drink side, a flight of beer is 10-2oz pours for $12, allowing you to sample a wide array of their offerings, and they have plenty of local Oregon wines available as well. They are open from lunch until late everyday so there are ample opportunities to stop in when passing through town. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Aside from a few televisions in the bar area, this is mostly geared at being a restaurant, not a tap room. As such, the number of live events at this location is equally limited, though their other location in Beaverton has many more on the schedule. Anniversary parties and limited release events are about all you will find here, and I did not see any other entertainment options such as board games or lawn games available at the brewery. Score: 1.5/5
- Location – Right at the edge of downtown McMinnville, there is a lot to do nearby. Within walking distance are several other breweries (see my previous reviews for these), plenty of restaurants and bars, and of course the previously mentioned air museum is a short drive away. They have an onsite parking lot for those who drive with can’t miss street level signage, a local transit system that serves the area, and a moderately bike friendly set of roadways if you want to travel that way. Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – Being more restaurant style, you will get table service everywhere except the bar itself. I was seated quickly, with my server making some good suggestions for food and beer. Once my order was taken, the drinks and food arrived quickly, and I was checked on often enough. I was happy with the treatment I received here, and it seemed to be the standard when I watched other servers and patrons around the restaurant during my visit. Score: 3/5
Total Score: 15/25
Favorite Beer: Mud Valley – 5.9% Oatmeal Stout
Final Thoughts: While the beer and food were respectable, this felt more like a restaurant that just happened to brew and serve beer and lacked that brewery or taproom feel that I love. Certainly worth a visit to try their beer, I can’t say there was anything that would draw me back for a second visit unless I was passing through and wanted a bite to eat.