Take a 'Sip Trip' to Corvallis

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      CORVALLIS, Ore. Walking into his barrel room now, Dave Takush can look back fondly at where this all started three years ago, with a simple brew for a friend's wedding.

      "They made some cider in Lee's basement and at the wedding, everybody loved the cider. People were dancing on tables. Everybody was just wanting more and that's kind of where the idea came from. We thought, well, we've got something here," Takush said.

      That was the unofficial birth of 2 Towns Ciderhouse, a joint venture between Takush and his two long-time friends. The tasting room just outside Corvallis offers eight flavors on tap, soon to be 16. Their bottling and fermenting operation has now outgrown its space.

      "We're actually remodeling an existing space and that's going to allow us to bring our craft cider deeper into Oregon," Takush said.

      Corvallis is quickly becoming a hive for new startups in the alcohol industry. There are nearly a dozen breweries and distilleries, which are quickly outgrowing their space.

      Moving into the former 2 Towns space is another craft upstart, Nectar Creek Honeywine, run by brothers Phil and Nick Lorenz.

      "We're all a big community here," Lorenz said. "And a lot of people think we're out to compete with each other because we're in a similar sector, but really, we all benefit from each other. We're all friends, we support each other."

      Nectar Creek uses Willamette Valley honey to brew about five varieties of mead, one of the oldest forms of alcohol.

      "People are scared of mead or intimidated by it because it's associated with Vikings or medieval times or a barbarian with a turkey leg gnawing on it. But once they try it, people love it and go back and that's why we continue to expand our production," Lorenz said.

      There are now about ten distilleries and breweries in Corvallis. Many of them opened only a few years ago. And they've compiled all of them onto a helpful map, which they call the "Sip Trip."

      "It's a good time to be in the industry," 4 Spirits Distillery owner Dawson Officer said.

      Army veteran Dawson Officer is a newcomer to the distiller world. This self-taught whiskey and vodka maker has set up shop on a historic plot in his hometown of Adair Village.

      "It's kind of a loose tie between the old World War II days and my deployment. But this was an old military base for World War II and Air Force after that," Officer said.

      The concrete complex is now Officer's base of operations where he makes fine spirits. The name "4 Spirits" is a tribute to four fellow servicemen who fought and died on a mission to Iraq.

      "It was very important whenever I got back, a lot of the guys I served with, to honor them and have them live on," Officer said.

      And you can tour all three of these upstart tasting rooms and more all in a day's drive.
      Besides whiskey and vodka, 4 Spirits plans to launch the first in a series of rums this summer.