The Bard and the Beer

Part of SCCBB’s “Summer of Beer” series

by BrewHead Ted

Seeing live productions of Shakespeare is one of my favorite things to do,
when in Ashland OR. Read on to hear about another favorite…

Last month, I returned with my family to a favorite vacationing spot, Ashland, Oregon. It was our first time back since 2019, due to the pandemic.

When I got there, I saw many familiar sights that awaited me. There were restaurants I remembered, shops that I’d visited before, and the same beautiful, old hotel where we had stayed for most of our years coming to Ashland. And there were my duck friends at beautiful Lithia Park.

Ah yes, and there was the beer…

I, too, often do the happy dance when at Lithia Park.

But sadly, we saw many changes as well, mostly due to the pandemic. One of our favorite restaurants in neighboring Talent, OR, New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, burned down in 2021. Another favorite, Amuse–always a go-to favorite in Ashland–closed in April of this year. And alas, there was the beer…

One of our longtime Ashland traditions was starting the week by meeting my uncle, who arrived separately, at a local brewery just a short walk from our hotel. Standing Stone Brewery had been a fixture in Ashland for over a quarter of a century. Their “I Love Oregon Ale” had been one of my favorites to sample, during the festivities. But alas, they too, closed–right before we arrived in Ashland, as (bad) luck would have it, at the end of May. Fare thee well, Standing Stone, and thanks for the great beer, and the memories.

I love Oregon indeed. Adieu, Standing Stone…

But that’s not to say we were bereft of beer options. A new place had, in fact, opened up since our last visit: Skout Taphouse & Provisions. While they don’t brew their own beer, they have an impressive selection of beers on tap. On our two trips to Skout, I enjoyed the “RPM IPA,” from Boneyard Beer, in Bend, OR, and “Grodziskie Lager,” from Chuckanut Brewery, originally based in Bellingham, WA (that location’s now closed), but now operating two tap rooms–one in Burlington, WA, and the other in Portland, OR.

I also enjoyed a half-pour of North Coast Brewing Apricot Wheat. Enjoyable beer, great view of Lithia Park across the street, and one ginormous pretzel that I ordered for lunch, but barely made a dent in.

I look forward to a return visit to Skout on our next expedition to Ashland.

Luckily, we did have a familiar place to return to, in Ashland. Another longtime favorite of ours is Caldera Brewing, founded in 1997. Caldera has the distinction of being the first Oregon craft brewery to can its own beer. This time, my mom, not a regular participant in our Ashland beer tasting, joined Dad, my uncle, and me.

And boy, I bet Mom was proud of me. After that pretzel debacle at Skout, I decided to be good, and have a lunch with all the major food groups included! Let’s see… beer (“Cryo Me a River Hazy IPA”), cheese–and more beer (the brewery’s award-winning Ashland Amber beer cheese soup), for dessert, chocolate–and more beer (Pilot Rock Porter).

I’m no nutrionist, but I think I had all the bases covered there, no?

So while we had the disappointment of Standing Stone closing, we still had a great beer experience in Ashland. I only hope that both Skout and Caldera are there to greet me my next visit up there–what with this ever changing world we live in.

Until next time, my friends–I will close with the words of the Bard–totally appropriate at the end of a stay in Ashland:

“Parting is such sweet sorrow…”

Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2

— BrewHead Ted

One thought on “The Bard and the Beer

  1. Beer and the Bard — good choice, BrewHead Ted! Did you know that Shakespeare’s father, John, was an official ale taster in Stratford? According to Liza Picard (ELIZABETH’S LONDON, Phoenix Press, 2003), Ale Taster was “an important and respected job which involved monitoring the ingredients used by professional brewers and ensuring they sold their ale at Crown regulated prices.”

    Like

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