Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flat Tail Brewing

Our series of Corvallis brewpub reviews completes with this one for Flat Tail Brewing. Located on First Street at the old Fox and Firkin location, the interior has been considerably spruced up since its F & F days (the bathrooms are much nicer). The walls are painted a muted blue and the wainscoting dark reddish-brown, an interior that, on its own, would seen more appropriate to a more formal restaurant. The large number of historical OSU sports photographs and flat panel televisions thus seem an afterthought, a sports bar overlay onto a room that was meant to be something else.

The interior is acoustically live, and when the place is at (or near) capacity it can be loud. Most of our visits have been when it’s not full, and then it’s fairly pleasant. During our most recent visit (late August of 2010) the music was too loud, but the weather was nice so we sat outside (one can only hope that management would have respected a request to turn down the volume had we decided to stay inside).

We’ve always been pleased with the service, although I’ve heard some negative reports from others. On our most recent visit our server was reasonably attentive and prompt.

We’ve also been happy with the food there. On a previous visit I’d had the St. Louis style “Brew BQ” ribs. These are good, but not impressive to someone raised in the Deep South (and no better than the ribs at the Corvallis Ruby Tuesday). The burgers are good too. On our most recent visit our party of five ordered just appetizers. The fried oysters were excellent, and the fried onion rings and “Brew Skins” (fried potato skins with shredded beef and sour cream) were both good. The Hummus Plate featured fresh veggies and tasty flatbread. Overall, I’d say the quality of the food is a half-step ahead of Block 15.

The same cannot be said of the beer brewed on the premises. Eight different varieties are available, ranging from a Pilsner to a Stout. You can try all eight with a sampler “paddle”, but be forewarned that if the bartender is sloppy with this, then many of the small glasses will be sitting in a pool of beer, and you’re going to drip a lot of that onto your lap. The beers themselves are competent, but neither complex nor compelling, and many have a slightly sour character that is likely due to the strain of yeast used for their brewing.

Also available are “Guest Tap” beers from other producers, these being Calapooia, Oregon Trail, Oakshire and Ninkasi. I’ve only tried a couple from the first (which were okay but not memorable), am not impressed by any from the second except for the Ginseng Porter, have tried none from the third, but have been impressed with everything I’ve tried from Ninkasi. The next time I’m at Flat Tail I expect I’ll order that, assuming it’s available.

If Flat Tail wants to be the preeminent Corvallis brewpub they need to improve their beers and provide some sound absorbing techniques in the dining area (and turn down the music, please).

Flat Tail website.

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