In what is coming to be my “close to homer series” I hopped over to Albany, Oregon to re-visit Calapooia Brewing, a brewery I first enjoyed when I moved here in 2017. Brewing under that name since 2006, and even longer as the Oregon Trader Brewing Company, they have slowly grown from a local watering hole to a brewery who cans and sells their beers locally. So sit back, grab a beer, and let my review of Albany’s oldest craft brewery flow through your mind.
- Beer – The tap list is a nice mix of seasonal and year-round beers, some of which have been on tap and relatively unchanged for over ten years. A few IPAs, a few light and dark beers, a farmhouse, and one nitro option round out a decent, if not exciting, tap list. The beers are solid and quite drinkable (the nitro scotch ale was oh so smooth), and they display a decent amount of creativity throughout the tap list. Score: 3/5
- Brewery – A large, non-descript warehouse sized building on the waterfront houses the tap room and brewing floor of Calapooia. Step inside the taproom and you will find yourself in something reminiscent of an old-world pub, with low ceilings, a large, wood bar, and about a dozen tables scattered around the room. Large windows let in plenty of light, yet the place still has a dark, dated, but cozy feel. The outdoor seating consists of a handful of tables under what I suspect was a loading dock or some other commercial entrance in this building’s previous life. A few trees and planters bring some of the local greenery into the brewery, making for a pleasant spot to have a beer. They do serve food, mostly pub style fare that is surprisingly good, with reasonable prices (beer included). Open every day from lunch until late, they do not allow minors after 8 pm so plan your trip accordingly if you have any kids in tow. Score: 3/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – If you are looking for live music, Calapooia is the place to be, and I was lucky enough to wander in when there was a group there playing. According to their schedule, they have music at least twice a week in the tap room, which makes for a great atmosphere. If music is not your jam, don’t worry! You can always retire to the outdoor space and have a conversation with your friends. Or perhaps play any of the numerous table top and outdoor games that are available. They also host several fundraisers throughout the year, yoga + beer classes, and occasional release parties. Score: 4/5
- Location – While not exactly off the beaten path as they are on the edge of downtown, they can still be a little tricky to find without GPS or having been there before. When arriving, look for the large red and green building on the corner. There is a sign, but it can be hard to see if the trees are full. The area is mostly empty of other amenities, though in reality the center of downtown is a short distance away with all its restaurants, shops, and the two other breweries in town so you can find other things to do should you want to explore. Parking is limited to the street, though it will not be hard to find a spot regardless of the time of day. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how good the service was here. The staff at the bar were friendly, offered to let me try whatever I wanted, and took care of everyone quickly and efficiently. The food was also prepared and served within ten minutes of ordering and, while there is not true table service for ordering, was delivered to the table hot off the grill (or fryer in the case of the tater tots). Score: 4/5
Total Score: 16.5/25
Favorite Beer: Caber Toss – 6% Scottish Ale on nitro
Final Thoughts: An unassuming brewpub with a solid line-up of beers and better than expected food, Calapooia fits well in to the Albany beer scene. Definitely worth a visit if you are in town, I am interested to see how they plan to innovate and evolve, especially with the growing competition just down the river in Corvallis. Either way, I can certainly see myself coming back here, especially for some live music!