Discovering Albany

picture of albany from http://www.cityofalbany.net

picture of albany from http://www.cityofalbany.net

This is part two of a post about the events on the 24th that started at Brewfest, one of the best nights I had this month. Part one is here

I’ve spent a good part of my life in the Willamette Valley and never had a high opinion of Albany. Not that there was ever anything wrong with the city, just never was a place I enjoyed spending my time. After all for a teenager who had all his friends and fun things to do with them in Salem, Albany seemed small. In fact we had a little joke back then about Albany. My friends and I had no doubt that Albany had a meth problem. The joke went you could always tell someone from Albany because they had too much free time, and no eyebrows from cooking meth. The joke doesn’t seem so funny now… Anyway, why go on about Albany? Well Calapooia Brewery is in Albany.

After we’d finished up at the Brewfest we started on the drive home. Those that know me know that I’m a flake. A big flake in fact. Kaylie and I had got to talkin and I got to not lookin out for where we were going. Next thing we knew we were almost to Woodburn. What a horrible co-pilot am I.

Once we’d gotten on the right track though things went smoothly. We came down through Brooks, and were just coming up on the Chemawa while talking about what we wanted to do with the evening. The significance of Chemawa is it was the point where we had to officially decide if we wanted the evening to continue, or call it good. This is where Kaylies spontaneity came in. And trust me, she has spontaneity to spare.

I’m not sure what exactly was said that triggered the idea, but next thing I knew Kaylie suggested we head down to Albany and visit Calapooia brewery. Calapooia are the people who brew that amazing Chili Beer we’d had at the festival. Before I get into the adventure of getting to the brewery I just want to describe the Chili Beer. There’s not alot of malt flavor, nor bitterness. In fact there’s not alot of beer flavor at all except at the front. The thing that makes this beer awesome is that at the back is a strong taste of chili peppers and a good warming sensation accompanied by a mild burn. If you like the taste of chili’s then you’ll love it, but even if your not the biggest fan the warmth this beer has to it is just awesome.

Ok, back on topic. Neither Kaylie nor I were familiar with Albany and had called Calapooia ahead of time to get some directions. Problem was multiple phone calls went unanswered and the directions weren’t much help to us out of towners. After driving further then we thought we stopped at a Carl’s Jr for directions. This resulted in an Oh Crap! moment. Even the local couldn’t tell us where the brewery was located. They could however tell us where Hill St was, and that happened to be the street we were looking for. Once we were on Hill St we were lost again. Turning right onto Hill lead to a dead end, and left had street addresses that were to high, and just kept going up. At the top of the hill we stopped, and once again the guy (I’m so proud of myself :P) asked for directions, and once again none of the locals knew they had a brewery. Ok, I take that back, one local knew. The problem was he gave us directions you would give to a local, not the idiot directions I needed. After we’d turned around and found our way to the brewery we parked in a lot full of gravel piles.

The brewery was pretty tight, it had the look of a trendy kinda pub like Boons, but was filled with a wide assortment of locals. In fact there weren’t many people as young as us. Perhaps most entertaining though wasn’t the assortment of people, but the band. There was a person in the band from every decade. There was an older bluegrass looking guy on harmonica, a soul sista on lead vocals, a hippie on base, and Joan Jett on drums.. Or at least her look alike.

Joan Jett

Joan Jett

The beer was awesome, the atmosphere was great, and the people where the kind of fun welcoming crowd you’d find at a local watering hole kinda bar. This place has to be one of the best brewpubs I’ve come across. I’ll see if Kaylie wants to write her take on it. Oh yeah, it turned out that after all that work trying to find the brewery we discovered one of Calapoola’s coasters we got from Brewfest. There was a map on the back…

calapoola

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