Charlie Van Meter (left) and David Sanguinetti (right) toast their new Allegory Brewing
Last weekend was the surprise soft opening party of Allegory Brewing in McMinnville, Oregon, a brewery that no one knew they were anticipating. That’s because it was a closely guarded secret until last Friday’s OLCC licensees report and surprise announcement via facebook about the new project from industry vets Charlie Van Meter and David Sanguinetti.
Charlie Van Meter has brewed at Sasquatch Brewing in Portland, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales in Hood River, and more recently was head brewer at Yachats Brewing, where his beers were beginning to garner some great buzz in beer geek circles. On May 20th Van Meter and his wife Jenna Steward unexpectedly announced they were leaving Yachats Brewing, with Charlie taking on a new and unnamed new brewery at a TBA location. That project had been kept quiet until now. Allegory Brewing is a new startup 7bbl brewery from David Sanguinetti, owner of McMinnville’s popular The Bitter Monk Taproom, with Van Meter as Head Brewer.
Allegory Brewing soft opened Saturday and Sunday with a functional but still unfinished taproom and patio with a brewery installed but not quite ready for production. Still, the crew made the best of it, with seven new Allegory collaboration beers, a fine bunch without a dud in the mix, and some really great ones like Ostrich Boots, Wit Drive, and Oubliette being standouts.
Van Meter and Sanguinetti met just this last March at the Portland Farmhouse & Wild Ale Festival at Saraveza and began discussions on partnering up. Sanguinetti was already working on finishing a brewery but was talking to some possible east coast brewers on coming out to run it. Van Meter seemed a better local choice, and the two hit it off at the Craft Brewers Conference shortly thereafter.
Located in downtown McMinnville just a block off the main drag of NE 3rd Street, Allegory Brewing is in the heart of Oregon’s wine country and just a few blocks from the veterans at Golden Valley Brewing. With dozens and dozens of great wineries nearby, coming by barrels to age fruit and wild ales in (as Charlie plans) will not be hard. They joke they could fire up the forklift and be over at the winery in 10 minutes to pick up any available oak. Partially kidding about the winemaker saying that it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine, Van Meter says for them it’s a lot of burritos to make great beer.
Which brings us to the brewery’s name and brand identity. Allegory Brewing features a simple typeface black and white logo, and the name tells you little about what to expect from the beer. It was a hard-won name that sounds like it became Sanguinetti’s biggest struggle, as the brewery was once to be named “Stranger Things” until a little Netflix show blew up. The building is also a pretty blank slate, and the beer lineup is all across the board. It’s a surprising approach for Sanguinetti, who says, “I have a degree in marketing, and I am so anti-marketing (when it comes to the brewery).” Van Meter recalls Sanguinetti assuring him that “if the beer is good, everything will be fine.” Sanguinetti adds, “We are here for the long haul, we plan to be here for a long time, let’s do this thoughtfully and well,” adding, “I want to let the brand develop on its own.” Refreshing, for a brewery that does have trendy hazy NE-style IPAs, sours and plans a large barrel-wild program, and perhaps even spontaneous ferments during the wine harvest season. Allegory could easily be relying on marketing, a unique brand and buzz, but is much more focused on beer over everything else. There was nary a hat, t-shirt, or sticker to be found on my visit, and the Allegory “A” on a door was the only sign of any brand presence.
Allegory Brewing’s building was most recently the home of Fino in Fondo charcuterie, which moved out of the space in 2015. It’s a gray warehouse with a fenced in lot that has been partially built out into a nice patio with wood accents and tents, soon a gas fire pit. Sanguinetti has licensed the entire lot for alcohol and hopes to have a second patio section across the lot plus outdoor games so guests can spread out across the entire area drinking and playing and make for a great gathering space for festivals and other events. A new food truck called “Biscuit & Pickles” will make the Allegory lot it’s permanent home. There is even some upstairs space for events that will look down upon the new 7 bbl brewery that features four primary fermenters, two brites, a 30bbl hot liquor tank from pFriem and an oversized steamer. The inside taproom is a hallway and two alcoves with a small walk up bar (no seating) inside and a partial roll-up window behind-the-bar to serve guests from inside or outside. The bar features ten taps, one of which will be a permanent lager from their friends at Heater Allen Brewing. Along the backside of the hall is the barrel room with big glass windows into the temp controlled room that has not been filled with oak vessels yet, but will provide a peek into the process. Van Meter hopes to be filling barrels in the coming few weeks and tap into fruit season before it’s too late for a peach beer and blackberry beer. He plans to keep an IPA on and brew farmhouse ales, with no intention of launching any flagship mainstays soon.
Coming soon, Allegory Brewing will have a hoppy brett and peach collab with Yachats Brewing, a west coast IPA brewed with Coldfire Brewing, and, most excitingly, a Pre-Prohibition-style Pilsner made with corn grits from Bob’s Red Mill that will be brewed and canned at Matchless Brewing. Look for 4 or 6-packs of that beer in early August. Also expect the Allegory Brewing taproom to officially open the first weekend of August 4-6, and weekend hours Fri-Sun after that. Allegory Brewing will not be open again until the grand opening.
777 NE 4th St McMinnville OR 97128
Grand Opening and Hours TBA