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When in McMinnville, drink beer



No, that’s not a slam against Oregon wine. I love these earthy, rich Pinot Noirs of Willamette Valley. But I also love a good beer and Lord knows there’s good beer in charming, small towny McMinnville. So I stopped by the Golden Valley Brewery, right downtown on the main drag, bought a few bottles, and voila, here I am, in the comfortable Comfort Inn, creating this blog post especially for you.


But first, my sad, sad beer story. So I want to drink the “Carlton Kolsch,” a fruity, medium-bodied, mildly hoppy beer (alcohol 5%). But you can’t carry a bottle opener on planes since 9-11, and when I got to the good old Comfort Inn the kid at the front desk said he no longer keeps bottle openers for guests because said guests keep stealing them, so he and I went on a treasure hunt through the kitchen looking for something, anything that could open a bottle of beer but there was nothing, and when I insisted there had to be something in the kitchen that could open a beer bottle he replied, indignantly, “If there was anything in here that could open a beer bottle I’d know about it,” and that settled that. Still, this bottle needed opening, so what to do? Turned out there’s a little bar-restaurant down the block, so I hightailed it over and the nice lady who greeted me said she did in fact have a bottle opener but that I wasn’t allowed to open the bottle in the restaurant, I’d have to take it outside, which made her worry a little bit, because I think she thought if she gave me her bottle opener and I took it outside I might never return; I suppose I look like the type who would steal a bottle opener. So she came outside with me, right there in the parking lot, and I opened the bottle, and she took the bottle opener back. Two happy people.

Golden Valley beer

(Yes I know the above rant is a bit cretinous but I mention it only to suggest the many tiny little things that can go wrong when you’re on the road, and compared to some of the more hellacious ones, my beer bottle brouhaha was minor indeed.)

Anyhow they had the USA Today in the Comfort Inn lobby so I took one and basically flipped out reading a comment from a reader who called the No Tipping policy at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (which I blogged about earlier this month) “socialism.” I mean, when did the word “socialist” or “socialism” become a dirty word that rightwingers use to pile hate on everything they don’t like? But this is a wine blog, so no politics here. I was really getting into my Carlton Kolsch, so I kept reading and on the very next page was one of those dueling opinion pieces where USA Today’s writer basically accused “Big Beer” of trying to “flatten sales by craft breweries” and a counter-view arguing that nonsense, Big Beer isn’t trying to flatten anything, the beer industry is “thriving,” exploding,” “competitive,” and there are plenty of “opportunities for all brewers, large and small.” That opinion piece was written by Anheuser-Busch’s vice present of business and wholesaler development.

Well, I’m just up here on a quickie visit, so back home tomorrow afternoon. I don’t want to say exactly what is the purpose of my trip, but it is on behalf of my employer, Jackson Family Wines, which has interests up here. “Up here.” That’s how we Californians refer to the Great Pacific Northwest. I suppose if an Oregonian were visiting California it would be “down there.” I had lunch with a local guy from the little town of Monmouth and he told me he’d just gone “down to” Colorado to visit his kids. A Californian wouldn’t say he’d gone “down to” Colorado. He might say “over to” Colorado or something like that. It’s weird, isn’t it, how we see directionality based on maps and globes, when in reality there isn’t any “up” or “down” or “over.” In this way we place our templates on the world, creating a sort of order where there really is none. I’m tempted to make a comparison with wine reviewing, which the older I get the more it seems rather arbitrary. But the night is young, the Carlton Kolsch is kicking in, and it’s time to find something to eat.

  1. Bob Henry says:


    From the Los Angeles Times “Food” Section
    (March 5, 2003, Page Unknown):

    “Corkscrew Meets Metal Detector;
    In this post-Sept. 11 world, just what are the rules about bringing your own wine to drink on an airplane? You might be surprised.”


    By David Shaw
    “Matters of Taste” Column

  2. Steve, what kind of bottle opener do you use that can’t get through security? I’m a (somewhat) frequent flyer and have never had a problem with keychain bottle openers. My current opener is one of those small titanium multi-task tools and nobody has even looked twice.

  3. redmond barry says:

    Had it been April 1, I could see that bottle opener story going in a completely different direction.

  4. My favorite brewery in Mac is Heater Allen. Maybe the best lager brewery in the country.

  5. A good way to open a beer bottle is with another bottle. Use the edge of one bottle top to pry open the other top. If you just buy one more bottle than you need, you are set for the whole night.

  6. Golden Valley beer is great . I love it .I have a problem to open beer bottle . Can You help me .

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