To visitors, the town of Ashland, Ore., about 15 miles north of the California border along Interstate 5, is known for majestic mountains, quaint old architecture
One of them is, of course, a familiar name to Bendites: Caldera Brewing, founded by Jim Mills in 1997, back when beer was still a nascent industry in the state. (It was not the first brewery in Ashland; that would be Rogue Ales, which opened in 1988 but moved to Newport the following year.)
Caldera boasts a number of firsts in the scene; they were the first craft brewery in the West to can their products, and also the first commercial outfit to brew with "hop hash," an extremely potent hop-residue concentrate created as a byproduct of the hop palletization process. Said Hop Hash IPA remains a dank favorite in 22-ounce bottles, along with the more mainstream Hopportunity Knocks IPA and the cryptically-named Vas Deferens Ale, a Belgian-style dark beer.
The brewery retains its old brewpub location off Main Street in the heart of Ashland, but visitors will definitely want to prioritize the new Caldera Brewery & Restaurant, a large, wide-open space off I-5, offering incredible mountain views from the outdoor porch. The indoors are a feast for the eyes of a different sort—a dizzying 45 different Caldera beers are on tap, and the walls are lined with Jim Mills' personal collection of over 5,000 beer bottles and cans, purportedly the largest in Oregon.
- A flight of Caldera beer is mighty tasty
Ashland's other beer giant, meanwhile, occupies a much smaller footprint downtown. Standing Stone Brewing opened in 1996, inside a 1920s-era garage building on the National Register of Historic Places, quietly building a reputation for great beer, great food
None of Standing Stone's beers scream out at you, but all of them—from the Twin Plunge double IPA and Irish-style stout to the 2017 edition of their winter