Bikes, Barks and Brews in the Willamette Valley
Guest Post by Long Haul Trekkers
The Willamette Valley is clearly known for all that wine produced, but it is also the second largest hops producer in the United States. All those hops, as we well know, is what make Oregon beer so prolific.
In June, Jen and Dave set off on what we called the Oregon Rode Trip, a cycle tour traversing three of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways with our rescued Australian Shepherd, Sora, in tow. While we do love our Oregon wine, we craved our favorite hoppy adult beverage after two years away cycling across Europe and South America (also with Sora!).
As we planned the first leg of our ride along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, we searched for all the beer spots located near the route. Fortunately for us, there are no shortage of dog-friendly breweries and beer bars to be found in the Willamette Valley. Oh, and were vegan, too. In Oregon, not a problem.
Cold and heavy rains guided us the entire 40-mile ride to Salem, finally letting up as we pedaled through the neighborhood streets toward our lovely B&B, The Century House. A dog-friendly accommodation with with innkeeper Jean, herself an avid cyclist who has cycled 33 states,who went above and beyond to accommodate our bicycles, Sora, and our vegan diet.
We met friends at Taproot Lounge + Cafe in downtown Salem for dinner, which has something for everyone, including plenty of vegan options. We both went for the curry bowl, washed down with a local IPA from Santiam Brewing. With all the local beers on tap, picking just one was tough to choose! We left Sora at home that evening since it was a bit chilly, but there are several outdoor tables that can accommodate dogs.
Wait a minute, this is supposed to be a beer trip! Why yes, but when you pass a winery directly on the path at lunchtime that allows dogs inside and serves pizza, well you cant very well pass it up. Since the weather was still a bit chilly and because we could bring Sora indoors, we opted for a wine tasting to accompany our pizza. With a wine dog of their own, Ankey Vineyard welcomes dogs with open arms while their humans enjoy sipping on award-winning wines.
We took a small detour after lunch en route to Corvallis, our destination for the evening. Dave had been suffering from a flu and we needed to cut off some miles, so we opted to take the Buena Vista Ferry across the Willamette River. Shortly after rolling into the Holiday Inn Express, we set off soon after for one of our favorite dog-friendly breweries in the state: Block 15 Brewing. As we do with every visit, we both ordered the Sun Burger, a veggie patty made by local vegetarian restaurant Nearly Normals. As for beer, one round simply wasn’t enough, so we just had to go for two.
The clouds finally gave way on our fourth day of riding, and we even spotted some blue above as we eagerly made our way to what was perhaps our favorite stop on the bikeway: Agrarian Ales. Located on the longtime family farm, you wont find traditional PNW hoppy IPAs served from the taps here. That’s because Agrarian grows 100% of the hops used in their beers. A true farm-to-table brewery, much of the food served out of the restaurant is grown on the property and that which is not, is purchased from the farmers market in nearby Eugene. Stop in to try one of the best pizzas in the Willamette Valley (which devastatingly was not available at the time of our visit, as they were working hard on building a bigger and better brick oven to keep up with demand). They are also super dog-friendly and took in Boo, a sweet stray who wandered on to the farm several years ago on Halloween.
Technically, the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway ends in Armitage Park Campground, where we spent our first night in Eugene, but in need of a rest day, we stayed for two full days in the college town.
Our first intended dinner stop after setting up camp was one of our favorite dog-friendly breweries, Ninkasi. However, a sign indicated that this was the one night dogs were not allowed due to a visit from Dimitri the Owl from the Cascades Raptor Center. How very Oregon of them. Instead, we opted for the Beer Garden, a fantastic spot with 42 beers and ciders on tap, several food carts to satisfy your hunger, and a huge dog-friendly patio.
The following day, we headed to Tap & Growler to meet our friends from Burley Design, where we toasted our two years of working together and finally having the chance to meet in person. Tap & Growler serves just about any liquid beverage you could ask for with 81 taps pouring beer, cider, kombucha, mead, wine, cold-pressed coffee, and soda. With several vegan options, it took me awhile to pick just one, but we both ultimately went for the curry bowl with veggies and tofu piled over basmati rice.
Even with all of our brewery and pub visits, we barely put a dent in what is available in the Willamette Valley. In our search, we found countless dog-friendly restaurants serving healthy vegan foods and look forward to cycling the route again to try the ones we missed during this visit!