The state of Oregon is famous for its lush greenery and breathtaking natural beauty. It is also a region that is becoming known for a dining scene that is quickly developing into one of the most diverse and dynamic in the nation with a number of highly acclaimed restaurants and well-respected chefs. The Beaver State is also home to world-class breweries producing fine craft beers.
One of the best ways to enjoy the fine food and drink of the area is by visiting the local breweries of Salem, the state of Oregon’s capital city located just a short drive south of Portland, and these 7 breweries are the best places to start.
- b2 Taphouse & Brewery
- For Tomorrow We Die Brewing Company
- Gilgamesh Brewing
- McMenamins Thompson Brewery & Public House
- Ram Restaurant & Brewery
- Santiam Brewing
- Xicha Brewing
b2 Taphouse & Brewery
Located just off Interstate 5 toward the southern edge of town is one of Salem’s most welcoming spots for fine craft beer and scratch-made food, b2 Taphouse & Brewery. A neighborhood joint in every sense of the term, this local brewery is the place where Salem locals go to sit back, watch the game, have great food, and of course, enjoy some of Oregon’s finest craft beers.
If you find yourself walking about Oregon’s charming capital city, be sure to stop by b2 Taphouse & Brewery and sample the Three Freaks Imperial IPA (ABV 8.1%, IBU 80). This hop-forward beer has a beautiful golden hue with a crisp, clean flavor and a nice malty finish. And there may not be a better pairing to go with those amazing tacos that the locals rave about.
For Tomorrow We Die Brewing Company
With the mantra “love fiercely… live boldly”, Salem’s quirkiest brewery also serves up some of the area’s finest craft beers. For Tomorrow We Die Brewing Company may have the oddest name ever dreamed up for a brewery, but make no mistake, they are all business when it comes to crafting artisan beers. You can expect a year-round rotation of half a dozen or so house brews along with a handful of guest taps.
For Tomorrow We Die Brewing Company offers a diverse range of Golden Ales and IPAs but if you’re looking for something different, try the Broken Curse Dark Ale (ABV 5.1%, IBU 25), a smooth and rich selection with hints of espresso, toffee, and dark chocolate to go along with earthy, grainy aromas. Overall, a signature craft beer experience offered by one of the region’s most unique establishments.
Located in the heart of Salem, Gilgamesh Brewing gets its name from the ancient story of a god-like Sumerian ruler, King Gilgamesh, who had a reputation for enjoying good food and drink. Speaking of which, this brewery features a full on-site kitchen turning out gourmet burgers and mouth-watering entrees, but the name of the game at Gilgamesh Brewing is the amazing selection of craft beers.
If there is a signature offering at Gilgamesh Brewing, it may very well be the Terry Porter (ABV 6%, IBU 24), a collaboration with the former NBA star with a portion of proceeds donated to a local children’s hospital. With a dark, rich pour and a slightly sweet flavor profile with hints of molasses and coffee, this malty beer is a bona fide winner.
McMenamins Thompson Brewery & Public House
When it comes to the craft beer scene in the Pacific Northwest, the McMenamins name is a familiar one among beer aficionados as it operates 24 breweries (and counting) throughout Oregon and Washington. Its Salem, OR outpost can be found at Thompson Brewery & Public House, which by some accounts is one of the oldest breweries in town, serving up classic comfort food and hand-crafted beers.
One of the most popular beers on tap is the Sunflower IPA (ABV 6.71%, IBU 65), an American IPA with a brilliant golden color that is as bright as – you guessed it – sunflowers. With its malty, citrusy flavors and pleasant mouthfeel, this IPA can be best described as highly drinkable and immensely enjoyable.
Ram Restaurant & Brewery
With a dozen or so locations throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, Ram Restaurant & Brewery is a familiar name among the residents of, and visitors to, the Pacific Northwest. At the Salem, OR location, you can expect a welcoming vibe from the moment you walk in, and one quick glance at the menu is all you need to know that good food and great beer are served there.
Speaking of great beer, one of the most popular offerings is the Big Red’s IPA (ABV 6.2%, IBU 60), a fruity IPA with a deep, copper color that is not shy about allowing its hop flavors to take center stage. Aficionados will enjoy its citrusy nose and hints of grapefruit, making this beer a can’t-miss choice the next time you find yourself in Salem, OR.
With its simple, rustic exterior, Santiam Brewing may seem like a quaint spot to grab a bite to eat while driving around Salem’s southeast district. But walk inside and you’ll find a 1,200-liter capacity brewery producing batches of some of the area’s finest craft beers. Adding an international flair to the operations is the full menu featuring classic British pub fare like bangers & mash and shepherd’s pie.
But of course, the star of the show at Santiam Brewing is their wide selection of craft beers and one of the local favorites is the 1859 lager brewed in the German Maibock style. This malty, hop-forward beer has a clear amber pour, with a sweet caramelly nose and hints of herbs and freshly baked bread.
The craft brewing industry is ever-evolving and perhaps no brewery better represents the growing diversity within its ranks than Salem’s own Xicha Brewing. Pronounced “chee-cha”, the team at Xicha Brewing proudly represents their native Latin American heritage through their lovingly crafted ales and lagers, along with scratch-made tacos and ximichangas that pair perfectly with Xicha’s beers.
So if you’re looking to broaden your craft beer horizons, look no further than Xicha Brewing and be sure to order a glass of their Cerveza Negra (ABV 5.6%, IBU 30), a dark lager that has a dark, chocolatey flavor with yeasty notes of freshly baked bread and a velvety smooth finish. No matter your personal preference, this is one beer you simply have to try.