In Salem for an afternoon and with a few breweries still on my list to visit, I decided to check some off and stopped in at Xicha (chee-chah) Brewing. According to their website they are the only LatinX brewery in the PNW, with the goal of combining delicious Latin American inspired food with Old World beers that offer a New World twist. Brewing since 2017, they have become a popular destination in a rather beer destitute area of Salem. So, grab a cerveza, relax, and enjoy this review of a unique take on beer.
- Cerveza – Being a small and growing brewery the tap list is modest yet manages to encompass a decent variety of styles. About half the menu is a lager style beer with the remainder a variety of pale ales, IPAs, and porters, though the tap list rotates to something new often. These beers are creative in the way they add bright, fruity flavors (such as mango) and other Latin American inspired ingredients. The beers are designed to pair with the food, though they are all easy, smooth drinkers that would match well with a lazy afternoon in the sun. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – The simple, muted exterior belies a bright, airy, and colorful interior, decorated with eye-popping colors and Latin American inspired artwork. A spacious outdoor seating area, accessible through a large roll-up door, provides a great entertaining area for the sunny summer weather. The restaurant/taproom is modestly sized with about a dozen tables scattered around the floor and a large bar that dominates the back wall overlooking the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen, as soon as you walk in the door, your nose is assailed by so many delectable aromas. The menu is a mixture of small plates, sandwiches, and tacos, most of it handmade and delicious. A small margarita and wine list are available for those who prefer something other than beer. The prices are reasonable, and the happy-hour specials even more so. With hours encompassing Tuesday through Sunday, lunch until late, there is plenty of opportunity to stop in for a bite and a beer. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – While there is only one television in the corner for watching games or what have you and no board games or outdoor games, their on-site event list is decent. From beer + yoga to loteria night (think a bingo-style event) that doubles as a charity fundraiser, it seems like there is at least something going on most months. The one thing I would love to see more of is utilizing that great outdoor area for some live music, especially in the warmer months of the year. Score: 2.5/5
- Location – As I mentioned earlier, the area of Salem Xicha opened in, west of the Willamette River, has a dearth of breweries. The location they picked is in an industrial complex, surrounded by warehouses and machine shops, while across the street is a residential neighborhood. The brewery can be challenging to find if you do not watch for the signage out by the street. Parking will probably never be an issue as there are ample spots throughout the complex, and you will want to drive or bike as there is not much else around within walking distance, though downtown Salem is just a short drive across the river. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – The place was hopping when I arrived, with almost every table occupied. Because of that, it took a little while for my drink and food orders to be taken. Despite that, my food and drinks arrived in a timely manner and overall it was an enjoyable experience. They do offer table service and my server was great about checking in and making sure I did not need anything after the initial delay. Score: 3.5/5
Total Score: 15.5/25
Favorite Beer: Hefecito – 5.2% Hefeweizen
Final Thoughts: One of the more enjoyable breweries and experiences I have had in Salem, I recommend stopping in if you find yourself in the area. Be sure to arrive hungry as the experience is best enjoyed with the food and beer. I will definitely keep them in my rotation of breweries to visit in the area.