♫ Girls Just Wanna Have ... ♫ Beer!

It used to be that meeting a gal pal for a drink after work meant a fru-fru cocktail or a snobby little glass of wine. These days a ‘Girls Night’ might just as easily include a pint or two at their favorite local taproom. And with the recent surge of hand-crafted micro brewers in the Rogue Valley, Medford ladies have quite a few stellar choices.

In what was once primarily the domain of men, more women are learning to seriously enjoy their beer, says Jenn Brown of Southern Oregon Brewing (1922 United Way, Medford · (541) 776-9898). When Jenn first became manager at SOB, the typical crowd was around 10% women, but in recent years those numbers have risen to maybe 30%. Asked for advice from a novice, she responds, “Just do it! I did, and I haven’t looked back (or drank crappy beer) since!” SOB’s Na Zdravi pilsner, Nice Rack IPA, and yummy ‘The Pale’ are light, crisp and fruity (in that order), while their top seller - a rich, coffee-scented Porter – was so decadent we took a bottle of it home to bake with. You’ll also find a Blackheart Stout here, along with seasonal specialties. Their tap room is Industrial Chic, and you can watch the beer being made through the windows while you imbibe. SOB also features free brewery tours on Saturdays at 4 pm – what’s not to love about a tour that ends with a pint? * http://www.sobrewing.com/

Think using beer in a dessert is weird? Check out Portal Brewing Co (100 E 6th Street, Medford, OR 97504 - (541) 499-0804), where they’re actually earning a quirky reputation for pairing their brews with dessert platings and – kid you not - it WORKS. Don’t believe? Follow a bite of the amazing Lemon Tiramisu with their ambrosial mango-scented Pale Ale and you’ll take back all the things you said. Clearly, though, for owner Mike Dimon, it’s all about the brew here: Russian Imperial Stout, ‘Riptide’ IPA, Donegal’s Break Oat Stout and Portal’s Porthole Porter are just a few of the dozen or so small-batch, award-winning ales he rotates through. The menu is eclectic as hell, and changes weekly, but that’s pretty much the character of this pub. Belly up to the eensy 4-5 seat bar or snuggle into an upholstered chair or comfy booth. Family friendly till 8 pm.

Apocalypse Brewing (545 Rossanley Drive, Suite C, Medford) feels just like hanging out in your friend’s garage having a beer. The doors are thrown open, dogs frolic in the parking lot while their people toss Frisbees. “That’s exactly what we’re going for”, say Erin and Nick Ellis, owners along with Penni and Dennis Poncia at Apocalypse. Inside the walls are hung with photos of Zombies and a sign declaring that Bruce Campbell drinks free at this establishment. LOVE it. The environment is so freaking laid back you wouldn’t even mind if the beer was mediocre. But, thankfully, it’s NOT. With cool names like Devastated Sky, The Tunguska Events and Blast Radius, there’s a temptation to try some of each. We did, our first time, then settled on favs. Kelly loved the Dirty Hippie (reminiscent almost of gin, with it’s earthy herbaceousness) and Susie sipped the lighter, cream style ale while we fell in love with the Sixth Seal (a Northwest-style pale ale that is drop dead scrumptious). No food is served at Apocalypse, but if you get peckish they’ll totally bring you pretzels. * http://apocalypsebrewing.com/

If you’re wanting for a full meal with your brew, check out Bricktowne (111 E 8th St, Medford · (541) 973-2377), which also has the distinction of being family-friendly. Boasting the largest food menu of the 4, this barrel room features everything from traditional bangers and mash to meatball subs and a more upscale chicken, grape and walnut wrap - but you’ll never forget this place was built around it’s stellar beers. With many of their brews regionally named (Siskiyou Pass, Applegate Pale Ale, Rogue Tail IPA, Table Rock Red), by far the beer that turned my head most was the Working Girl Brown Ale: voluptuous toasty sassiness in a glass. * http://www.bricktownebeer.com/

Should you wish to indulge in brew sampling with a designated driver, Indigo Creek Tours offers a Medford Brewery package that would turn a pedestrian Saturday afternoon into a fabulous bachelorette party on wheels: http://indigocreekoutfitters.com/tours/medford-breweries/ ;-)

Check out Anna Eats Ashland's website for a full list of eateries in Ashland, Oregon: http://www.annaeatsashland.com/

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1467 Siskiyou Blvd #6 . Ashland . Oregon .  97520

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