It’s sad to admit that I’ve never visited a brewery in Salem, with my only excuse being the erratically operable, undependable jalopy I presently call a car. Though with the arrival of Salem based Vagabond Brewing to Southeast Portland, I now realize it’s an oversight I need to soon correct.
Unbeknownst to me until their preview a few weeks back, I learned that this will be Vagabond’s fourth location, joining the ranks of their original location on the North side of Salem, plus their 2 other taprooms – the Vagabond Outpost further South in Albany, and the Victory Club in downtown Salem.
Established in 2014 by three brothers in arms, this cadre of friends and Marine Corps combat veterans (James Cardwell, Dean Howes, and Alvin Klausen) have distilled their wanderlust past into what is the ethos of Vagabond Brewing – “Beer. Love. Adventure.”
Their latest endeavor, which officially opened yesterday, can be found in The Dairy Building, part of The Ford District which straddles the SE Portland neighborhoods of Hosford-Abernethy and Brooklyn. This brand new brewpub inhabits a portion of what is a nicely remodeled 40,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space.
Approaching the location from it’s SE 8th Ave facing storefront, the warm lighting inside draws the eye upon approach, standing in stark contrast to it’s otherwise dark factory surroundings.
Upon entering the space, you’re welcomed by a colorfully classic “Greetings From Vagabond” postcard-style mural, with each letter populated by locations that have had an impact on it’s founders.
Quickly thereafter, it’s immediately evident that there’s a small plane over your head! It’s actually a 1958 Cessna 310B that had crash landed in a field near Vanderhoof, BC, Canada. With assistance from locals, Dean and James disassembled the plane, towed it back to Oregon, and now acts as a centerpiece for the space.
Next you’ll find two bars and the dining area, which run parallel to the kitchen and the soon to be installed 7 barrel brewhouse downstairs. Above them on the second floor there’s additional seating, plus plans for another bar (adjacent to the accessible Cessna) and a children’s play area, all currently under construction.
Having taken in the comfortably modern Northwest vibe of the space, it was time to try some tasters from the taplist. I’d only previously sampled their beer at some of the festivals in town, which had been too few and far between, so I honestly had no idea what to expect.
I was impressed by all the offerings they’ve brought up from Salem including their Victory Pilsner, Fiest Bier, a hoppy Belgian Pale (done in collaboration with Level Beer), Attack Owl IPA, Outpost Pale, Mo BRETTa (a Brett Saison), and NW Passage Stout
The cocktail options being offered are all well crafted by seasoned veteran David Belcher. In this day in age, with an ever growing number of younger patrons seeking out spirits instead of beer alone, I’d almost consider cocktails a must have in this town going forward, and they’re smart to have done so.
Last, but certainly not least, we were collectively floored by the culinary acuity of Head Chef Victor Deras, formerly of Olympia Provisions. We sampled the diverse options of their Charcuterie Board, some tasty House Made Pretzels with Victory Pilsner Beer Cheese, the delectable beer battered Fried Delicata Squash Rings (possibly my new favorite thing), a Barley Salad, the lovely Smoked Turkey Sando, Gnocchi, and to top it all off, an impressive Roasted Chicken with garlic chili seasoned vegetables.
While every aspect of this new endeavor appears to be on point – the staff, space, drinks, food, and beer, what I’m most looking forward to are the new creations that will emanate from their yet to be installed Practical Fusion brewhouse.
The results of those yet to be determined liquids, as much as anything at Vagabond’s newest destination, are what will also define them. Considering how everything looks thus far, I see only clear conditions and little turbulence on the course ahead for Vagabond Brewing’s inaugural flight in Portland.
If you haven’t checked out Vagabond Brewing PDX just yet, be sure to stop by between 11am and 4pm during Zwicklemania on Saturday, where they’ll also be celebrating Vagabond’s 5th Anniversary.
Hours as of 02/12/2019:
Sunday – Thursday: 11am to 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am to 11pm