Brian's Photo Blog — Article 617
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McMenamins Corvallis in Summer and Autumn
Saturday 14 January 2017   —   Category: Dining Out
As part of my McMenamins Passport ad­ven­ture during 2016, I made visits to the two McMenamins pubs in Corvallis, Or­e­gon, in July and October.

For the first outing in July, I started with the Monroe Brewpub, close to the Or­e­gon State University campus.

In order to get a certain Passport “ex­pe­ri­enc­es” stamp, I needed to attend one of McMenamins’ Limited-​Edi­tion Beer Tast­ing events. The brewery was hold­ing one on the 5th ... my younger sister’s birthday.
In honor of Oregon Craft Beer Month, this particular brewpub was offering their Gold­en Penny beer. According to the brewer:

“Presenting a crisp German Kolsch with a slight English twist! A gin-​soaked oak spiral has been mingling with Penny’s Golden for one and a half fortnights, leaving a very re­fresh­ing beer with a unique spice and ju­ni­per-​fueled dryness. Cascade hops pro­vide flavor and aroma, while the gin and oak infusion provides a “zip, tang, pow!” (highly technical brewing terms) of botanical goodness. This com­bi­na­tion of in­gre­di­ents was in­spired by my home-​brewing partner’s favorite drink, the gin and tonic.” Meas­ure­ments: 5.2% ABV • 14 IBU

My notes from that day read: “Interesting and different beer​ ... almost like a weak gin and tonic. I guess it tastes pretty much along the lines of the stated ABV and IBU. Not too hoppy, but not much malt taste either ... a bit bland, but I guess that’s some­times the case with a Kölsch”
Well, the beer wasn’t so awesome, but I was quite happy to get both the lo­ca­tion stamp and the beer-​tasting stamp. Then it was time to head for Mc­Men­a­mins’ other Corvallis lo­ca­tion to eat my Pass­port-​prize sup­per. And hope­ful­ly have a better beer.

I had driven by the Third Street Pub many times during my years of Cor­val­lis shop­ping, but never really no­ticed that it was a Mc­Men­a­mins.

Because of the beautiful summer weath­er, I took a seat at one of the empty outdoor tables, with a lovely view of my 2009 To­yo­ta Tacoma in the parking lot. There I sipped a pint of Ne­bras­ka Bitter. According to the brewer:
“This golden bitter uses fresh Cascade hops in modest amounts to create a more subtle hop flavor and bitterness than its big brother, Hammerhead. It’s named after Southwest Nebraska Street in Port­land, where the Fulton Pub and Brewery is located and where it was first brewed. This crisp and flavorful ale has become a standard at­trac­tion at McMenamins taps everywhere.” Meas­ure­ments: 4.5% ABV • 20 IBU

My notes from that day read: “This time I took pictures of the beer and made notes​ ... when I had it the first time playing pool with my son I neglected these things! Ne­bras­ka Bitter is pretty good, perhaps just slightly bland. Maybe I like stronger beers (higher IBU) after all! I don’t know why it’s called Bitter, because there does not seem to be anything bitter about it. The beer was better with the meal than alone. I don’t think I would order it again. Big brother Hammerhead is better!”
Because I had collected all two of the Corvallis location stamps, I was entitled to a free appetizer prize. Looking at the list of ‘Starters’, I noticed a pretty deluxe $15 item — Black & Blue Steak Bites: “Black Rabbit Red marinated steak bites, blue cheese fondue and fresh-cut fries.”

Interestingly, as of this writing, it is no longer listed in the Starters section of the menu, therefore it is not available as a prize any­more.
My notes from that day read: “Not very tender steak ... needs some ten­der­iz­er. I wouldn’t want to pay $15 for it, but for free I can’t complain. The cheese sauce was good but not killer ... not a strong blue cheese taste, nor a strong cheddar taste ... I think the cheese sauce with the pretzel at Edgefield was better. Actually not all the steak was tough, just a few pieces of tendon ... it would have been nice to trim that off ... no way to make that tender!”
My next visit to the Third Street Pub was with my wife, Catherine, in October, to celebrate Oktoberfest at the Mc­Men­a­mins Corvallis Oktoberfest party. This was my wife’s first time at a McMenamins, so I was anxious for her to have a pos­i­tive impression. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped.

For my beer, what else could I order but their Corvallis-brewed Monroe Oktoberfest? According to the brewer:

“Traditionally, Oktoberfest beers are brewed in the spring and cel­lared until the fall harvest festivals. This version was fer­ment­ed with a Kölsch yeast for three weeks at 58 degrees. Most ales ferment clos­er to 70 degrees and for a shorter period of time. Copious amounts of Vienna and Munich malts provide the rich malt aroma. The bal­ance is malt-forward with a moderate hop bitterness.” Meas­ure­ments: 5.8% ABV • 22 IBU

My notes from that day read: “Pretty good, not bland, not too hoppy ... I would have it again next Oktoberfest.”

There was some big mix-up between the waiter and the kitchen. Apparently some or all of our meal was supposed to be cooked on an outside grill — I would suspect the sausage — but the grill was not set up yet. So after waiting quite a while, the waiter came to tell us that he was just told they had not made the meal yet, and that it would be coming in a while. No problem, we were not in a hurry and we could wait.

So I ordered pretzels and cheddar fondue to tide us over in the mean­time, but even that was taking so long that eventually I had to tell the waiter that if it didn’t come soon, it would come with our meal and then we would not want it. He was apologetic and nice about it all, and gave us the pretzel fondue for free. I wasn’t too bothered by it, so I remained pretty nice as well. The pretzel fondue was really good as usu­al. Catherine and I each had one pretzel, and I took the third one home to freeze.

We had ordered two different items to share. The King Oktober Dog — Olym­pia Provisions Terminator kielbasa with grilled onions and sauerkraut relish — had a king​-sized $11 price.

Even spendier ($13) was their Schneu­ben Sandwich: breaded chicken schnit­zel, Swiss cheese with sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing on grilled rye bread. The menu said it came with fries or tots, but it was actually a small bag of Kettle Chips, which was OK with me. This sandwich was an interesting and tasty variation on a tra­di­tion­al Reuben sandwich.

I thought the sausage would be the better of the two, but actually we both thought the schneuben was better. But in the end, I think that a real corned-beef reuben is better yet. Nevertheless, trying some­thing new, and even the bad service, is all part of the adventure. I’m just sorry it was Cath­er­ine’s introduction to Mc­Men­a­mins, because it’s probably the worst services I have had at any of their 54 locations.

If they were not going to serve the spe­cial Oktoberfest food until later, like, maybe after 2:00, they should have said so on their Web site and on the little Ok­to­ber­fest menu. Even before we got our meal, we heard our waiter tell another server that customers can’t order what we ordered until later. So why did they advertise that the party started at their 11:00 AM opening? Things were pretty confused and disorganized.

Also, on the menu it said that “various fruit juices” were available. But when I asked about it, the waiter said they didn’t have any. But then he came back and said they did. I guess he asked someone. So Catherine was able to have some apple cider after all.

To top it all off, when I asked for my just-for-fun Oktoberfest stamp, the waiter want­ed to put it on Page 4, as a Brewfest Experience. I’m sure he wasn’t supposed to do that, be­cause this Oktoberfest party was definitely NOT a McMenamins Brewfest. He said that that was what he had been doing for other customers. Uh oh ... bad boy!

Fortunately I already had a proper Brewfest stamp in my Passport — see Mc­Men­a­mins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse 2016 Brewfest for all of those details. So he put the stamp on Page 30 (Brew­fests), even though I think it should have gone on Page 32 (Birthdays & Events). Be­cause an Ok­to­ber­fest is NOT a Brewfest, despite the iden­ti­cal last syllable of the two words!

It seems like this nice waiter could have really used a good manager. And some prop­er train­ing. Maybe he was new. Maybe his manager was new!

During my three McMenamins Corvallis visits, I took a total of 31 photos. The best 16 can now be viewed in the new McMenamins Corvallis 2016 album.
For more tales about other locations, see My McMenamins Passport Adventure.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 617
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