On a recent weekend, when the afternoon sky is awash in a pool of cotton, aquamarine, and gold we drove to the small town of Silverton to revisit the adolescent comfort of coin-operated parking meters, family-owned businesses, and a night sky unravished by the onslaught of street lamps. Our goal for this visit, to experience a weekend in the life of a rested local or overstimulated out of towner.

Silverton, Oregon. A town of 10,000 with over 6,000 years of history.

Once known as Milford, then Silver Creek before receiving its permanent name in 1855, the town of Silverton was homesteaded in part because of its proximity to the Silver Creek which is one of many waterways feeding the Willamette River. It is believed the area was first settled by the Kalapuya and Molala peoples before 19-century European settlers arrived. In part because of efficient farming practices by the native peoples, early immigrants had little difficulty in developing what has become the area's supporting industry. Today, Silverton is home to some 10,000 residents as well as countless visitors and travelers passing through along Oregon's state highways, 213 and 214.

Why we came - The Oregon Garden Brew Camp

Conceived of in the 1940's before being birthed upon the nation in 2001, the Oregon Garden is home to 80+ acres of specialty gardens, showcasing the flora of the Pacific Northwest. It's an opportunity for guests to sample from 20 unique gardens ones that inspire the senses to those that inspire future generations.

Now imagine a garden featuring a variety of trees, bushes, shrubs, flowers, and ferns, accented by sounds of chirping birds and running water, and complemented by a pint of locally-brewed ale, lager, or cider. Welcome to Oregon Garden Brew Camp.

Father's Day weekend, the Oregon Garden invites all to walk throughout its gardens and nearby forest of trees, while enjoying samples of beer from breweries both local and from the surrounding region all located on the grounds of the Oregon Garden Resort. During our visit we enjoyed beers from Salem, Portland, Eugene, Bend, while being entertained by numerous musical acts. 

During our visit in 2018, the Oregon Garden Resort also featured a first by a campground at a discounted rate. In addition to camping under the stars, the 2018 festival also featured geocaching, a chainsaw carving demonstration, flower crown workshops, beer pairing basics and of course the Thursday brewers dinner. This on top of the distribution of brewery tents, which encourages guests to explore the Oregon Garden grounds.

But the Oregon Garden Brew Camp isn't the only attraction, should you choose to visit any other time of the year. In fact we encourage all to visit throughout the year, as the Resort is also home to a spectacular Winter exposition, besides other seasonally-inspired events.

Breweries

Seven Brides Brewing

The oldest brewery in Silverton, Seven Brides was started by Ken DeSantis, Phill Knoll, Karl Knoll, Josiah Kelley and Jeff DeSantis in 2008. Featuring an awe-inspiring number of beers the brewery has won numerous awards as well as praise from locals for their pub-forward menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and steaks.

Our thoughts: When it comes to food we are partial to their Reuben Sandwich, Sausage Plate, or 12-ounce ribeye. While you're trying to decide, how about a Frankenlou's IPA, Becky's Black Cat Porter, Lil's Pils, or Monki Love Imperial Russian Stout.

Seven Brides Brewing opens most days from 11:30 AM to 9 pm and is located at 990 North 1st Street.

Silver Falls Brewery

Started by Eric Druliner and Andrew Fox in 2015, Silver Falls is the newest brewery to call Silverton home. But don't go looking for an onsite brewery tour after consuming a pint of their Over the Edge IPA or a trio of sliders from onsite caterer Loco Ono, because the brewery is located elsewhere. Instead, the owners and staff encourage you to relax, try a pint or sample tray of their beers while planning your next destination.

Walking a short distance from downtown, we are immediately greeted by a thoughtfully landscaped beer garden, featuring accommodating tables and chairs, succulent plants, as well as a water feature. Take a few steps into the bar, you are greeted by an interior decoration that is one part German beer hall and one part American alehouse. Located to the immediate left of the bar are both Silver Falls's locally-brewed beers as well as several guest beers from familiar breweries like Deschutes and Belgian Underground. Thankfully, owners, Eric and Andrew were around to speak with us.

Sitting down with the owners we learn that Andrew is an ex-pat from Ohio and Eric a resident of the county for several decades. Today, Andrew works full time in the brewery while also being much involved in his children's athletic pursuits. Meanwhile, Eric can be found on occasion at the taproom helping staff and customers, when he isn't being a supportive husband and father. But make no mistake, these two men are approachable and happy to answer any questions you have about the beer. 

 Raspberry Wheat on the rocks?

Raspberry Wheat on the rocks?

If you're want to try Silver Falls beer you might consider a pint of Over the Edge IPA, Ranged Red, Catamount Trail Ale, or Raspberry Wheat. If on the other hand beer isn't your thing, then the brewery's taproom also has ciders, craft spirits, and cocktails, as well as sodas. Plus, the food options aren't limited to the on-site food truck. In fact, there are options within walking distance, ranging from takeout (e.g. Creekside Grill) to delivery (e.g. pizza). Although take it from us, the food from Loco Ono was stellar but only available for a limited time each day.

Silver Falls Brewery is open most days from 11:30 AM to 10 PM and is located at 207 Jersey Street.

Belgium Underground

Last on our list is a brewery that doesn't have a taproom, inspired by one its founders' ancestral history of resistance during World War II, aptly named Belgian Underground. As a testament to Sheldon Leshire's heritage, he not only brews inspiring beers but also beers with names that inspire discussions. 

Taking time out of a busy day, Leshire served up a few of the brewery favorites.

Named after the resistance, Armée Secrète (Secret Army), Leshire has produced a beer that masks its true identity as an easy sipping beer at 9.7%. Next up is the Vrije Woord (The Free Word) is a reward after a hard-fought day spent in the yard, hiking Silver Falls, or taking a walk around the Oregon Garden Resort. Finally, we encourage a nightcap with a Long Last Kiss (a blend of Belgian-style Blonde Ale, Belgian-style Chocolate Stout, and aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans) paired with some chocolate cake or maybe a mousse. 

Look for all of these beers to be featured throughout Silverton or nearby Salem. 

 

Take a stroll, hike, or shop.

A walk down main street, a dip in a nearby stream or lake, maybe purchase some artwork? Here are a few attractions to take the edge off, should you need a break from acres of fauna complimented by pints of beer. 

For more information on events or attractions, visit http://business.silvertonchamber.org

Where to stay

Unfortunately the size does match the options. But that should stop you from staying in town versus nearby Salem. Here are best options both during the Oregon Garden Beer Festival or during a quiet weekend or week in one of Oregon's more famous valleys.

Note, other options include nearby Edward Adams House Bed & Breakfast at 729 S Water St and The McClaine House at 216 W Main Street.

 image sourced from Oregon Garden Resort

image sourced from Oregon Garden Resort

Where we stayed: Oregon Garden Resort.

Opened in 2008, the Oregon Garden Resort has over 100 rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as an onsite spa, gym, and meeting rooms. In addition to relaxation and collaboration, the resort hosts nightly live music in their lounge as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the nearby restaurant. One of the more unique aspects of the Oregon Garden Resort is the optional pet-friendly rooms featuring king-size, queen-size, or dual queen-size rooms.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a friendly concierge who checked us in, requested a credit card to confirm the reservation and also ensure any future damages or intended charges, before being given directions to our nearby room.

A short walk from the lobby of the resort, we use our card key where a king-size bed awaits before we open the door to our private patio area complete with table and chairs. Overall our nights were restful as the room provided a comfortable bed and walls that insulated us from the outside noise.

The last day of our visit we decided to enjoy the onsite breakfast, which featured everything from the traditional continental (e.g. muffins, danishes, toast with jam and butter) menu to the hot breakfast with french toast, sausages, eggs, and bacon. Each morning’s breakfast is complimentary and also included coffee, tea, milk, and various juices.

What makes the Oregon Garden Resort the ideal spot is its relative distance from the light pollution of downtown, coupled with allowing one to visit the nearby festival grounds without the fear of driving or paying for a taxi. During our visit to the festival, it was relatively painless to travel between the temporary fenced-in beer festival and our room. Check-in is at 3 pm with next day checkout no later than 11 am.

Coffee, Tea, or Breakfast

Despite being a town of around 10,000 there are options ranging from a cappuccino and croissant to a plate of biscuits and gravy.

Lunch or Dinner.

Out of all the restaurants, alehouses, and bars, these are the most highly rated. If you're looking for creekside conversation with a meal, try Mac's Place or Creekside Grill. If on the other hands you're looking for a small bite paired with a cup of coffee or tea, then Gather might be your best. For formal dining, we think that 3 Ten Water Restaurant, Silver Grille, and Creekside Grill are your best bets. But don't take our word for it, visit someone today. 

Where we ate: Creekside Grill

Just a short distance from downtown and nearby Silver Falls Brewery is Creekside Grill. Located in the basement of the historic Hartman Chevrolet building is a welcoming restaurant and lounge, with creekside seating and open windows which allow the sunlight to brighten guests' visits. Whether you're a vegetarian or someone feeling peckish for some flesh, the Creek Side features a plethora of options, all with special thanks to owner and chef Manny Rodrigues.

 Zombie Fries anyone?

Zombie Fries anyone?

Starting the appetizers, we indulged in a vegetarian-friendly serving of Zombie Fries. For the uninitiated, Zombie Fries are sliced portabello mushrooms that have been tempura battered before being seasoned with truffle oil, chili flakes, and served with chipotle aioli. If you're looking for something to share between vegetarians and the non-vegetarian, this is a good start. 

Before long, we have ordered ourselves a plate of Baja Fish Tacos and a bowl of Estotico Pasta Stir Fry. Starting with the vegan Stir Fry, we are welcomed with a bowl of sesame-ginger fettuccine, made with local stir-fried sugar snap peas, baby bell peppers, jicama, & celery; all tossed with chile soy sauce and crispy rice noodles. Definitely, a must try.  

But we haven't tried the Baja Fish Tacos made with sauteed wild Pacific Coast sea bass. Starting with one corn taco, served with cabbage, chipotle aioli, shredded cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro, you might not want to order a second if you finish the side of corn chips and salsa. Although not the most colorful when compared to the Estotico Pasta, this is definitely a lighter entree for those feeling the heat. 

Special thanks Manager Lori Rodrigues for guiding us through the menu of appetizers, salads, entrees, cocktails, wines, and beers .Oh! Did we also mention that Lori is the towns mural artist? Don't believe us, ask for her the next time you stop in. 

Need a nightcap?

Note, for those seeking tropical-inspired cocktails, the Creekside Grill was our pick over The Gallon House's plethora of draft beers.

Onward and away

The weekend nearly over, we make our way back onto the Interstate, returning to the din of congestion, already planning a return to this historical town. Much as we've learned in visits to other towns, a weekend is never enough time. So take it from us when we say, a visit to Silverton can take you a week or a weekend.

Cheers

Pursuant to FTC rules, research was sponsored by the Oregon Garden Resort, Silver Falls Brewing Company, Creekside Grill, and Seven Brides Brewing Company. However, our inclusion of these businesses was strictly voluntary and subject to editorial discretion.

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