OK, I will be honest, I’m not a huge wine drinker.
I came from a blue-collar upbringing and wine was something that came in a box. So as you can imagine, beer is the cold adult beverage of choice for someone like me.
So when people throw terms like “flight” and “cabernet” and “Pinot Gris” I look at them with a puzzled look – you know the one, the look your dog gives you when he can’t figure out what you want him to do.
I live in the Yamhill Valley, wine country, but as luck would have it, this is also “beer country.”
With the annual Portland Brewfest, the regional more corporate breweries and smaller breweries scattered around the Willamette Valley, you don’t have to know about grapes and carry a picnic basket with a cheeseboard and corkscrew to have a good time in the Yamhill Valley.
Where I am heading with this diatribe is that located near the heart of wine country is a great place to sit down and enjoy a “pub experience,” craft brew included.
Golden Valley Brewery located in McMinnville is a wonderful place to stop, and get some food that pairs well with beer.
I visited the brewery on a rainy September day, and the food, ambiance and beer hit the spot. The first and only thing you need to know about this locally-owned brewery (there are two of them, on in McMinnville and another in Beaverton) is that they brew their own beer, make their own sauces and soups from scratch and house-smoke their own meats. They use local seafood, produce and Angus Springs Ranch beef. The owners of the brewery, Peter and Celia Kircher also own 76 acres of pastures outside of McMinnville where much of their Black Angus beef comes from. They use no hormones, antibiotic feeds or animal byproducts.
Which, for you and I, means we get one really good steak.
You walk into the restaurant and it feels like an English pub, and in the back are big windows into the brewery. While other regional brewers have features like this, many of those restaurants don’t have the same high-end feel as Golden Valley. Being located in McMinnville makes it easy for the brewery to bridge the gap between the wine culture, and just wanting a good meal and a beer.
Since I was visiting in Fall, they have several seasonal brews that people can try. With a day of driving ahead of me, I didn’t partake in more than one beer (with a meal), but I did check out the list for the next time I am in McMinnville. They have special brews for each season, and what I also liked is that many of their own brews had local names, such as St. Paul Fresh Hop, French Prairie Blanche and Bald Peak IPA. When I was there they had Oktoberfest Lager and St Paul Hop as the seasonal specials.
Since I was in the Oktoberfest mood, I enjoyed the G.V.B. Pork Schnitzel and it was complimented by the Oktoberfest brew. The menu ranges from pizza to sandwiches to burgers and steaks and fish. It has a large dining room and is a great place to meet with friends, catch a game, or take a rest from a day of winery tours or discovering the Evergreen Air and Space Museum which isn’t far way.
What I also liked about the brewery is that since it is locally owned, they regularly hold events to help local schools, nonprofits and other organizations.
But don’t think they don’t carry wines – the do and have a wide selection of regional wines, if you want to continue your wine tasting adventurs.
With the perfect location, great ambiance and fresh produce and meats, Golden Valley Brewery would be a good stop for anyone looking for a meal and a beer.
About Golden Valley Brewery: Since we started in 1993, we’ve followed a fresh, local, made-in-house cuisine program at Golden Valley. We’ve always had our own kitchen garden supplying the restaurant, and sourced fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fish and poultry from local producers whenever possible.
What to bring: Bring your appetite and some friends would help too. In my case the next time I visit I’m going to make sure to have a designated driver so I can try more than one of the excellent craft beers they have on tap.
Tip: Locals told me that it can get busy during the weekends, so give yourself time to get in and get out in case it is filled up and you have to wait. It is also on the edge of McMinnville’s downtown, so take a stroll and work off some of that food and beverage afterwards! There are treasures to be found in downtown McMinnville.
Season: The restaurant is open year-round.
Getting there: The restaurant is located at 980 NE 4th Street, McMinnville, OR on the edge of downtown McMinnville. There is also a Beaverton location (which I haven’t visited) located at 1520 NW Bethany Blvd., Beaverton, OR.
By Patrick Johnson