Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eugene road trip

Man, I go out of town and the blog shuts down shop. I guess we know who the MVP of the BBB is.

Anyway, I was in Eugene last weekend and made sure to sample some of the local treats. Only 2 1/2 hours from Bend, Eugene's not a bad drive at all if you're in the mood for a microbrew vacation.

The first night I was in town I headed over to Ninkasi Brewing. Arguably the fastest-growing brewing company in Oregon, Ninkasi doesn't have brewpub, but a cool little tasting room on site at their brewing facility. In addition to recent favorites like the Otis Oatmeal Stout and Total Domination IPA, Ninkasi had on hand a few beers that don't often make it over the mountains. Cool environment where there's plenty of beer geeks on hand to chat microbrews with.

Day No. 2 was all about Oakshire Brewing, a great-tasting brewery in its own right which at least around here in Central Oregon is overlooked because of all the great things Ninkasi is doing. Hunkering down at Cornucopia, I had the Oakshire Frog's Wort Pale Ale and O'Dark:30 Cascade Dark Ale, both winners. Dare I say I enjoyed Oakshire's Cascade Dark even more than Deschutes' Hop in the Dark CDA? I do. In Bend, the Abbey Pub, Jackson's Corner, Nature's, Whole Foods, Ray's and The Brew Shop all carry Oakshire brews. It's definitely worth a try.

My final Eugene-area brewery experience was completely by chance. Having dinner with friends from Portland, the bar we were at told us that all the Hop Valley Brewing beer was free for a limited amount of time. FREE. A rep from the Springfield brewery was at the bar buying rounds for everyone for about two hours. I'll admit, the name of the brewery didn't knock me out, but their Alphaholic IPA - another regrettable marketing choice - was great. The double IPA the brewery rep recommended was forgettable, but the regular IPA was something I'd pay for next time. It looks like they've got a brewpub not too far off I-5 just north of the Gateway Mall. I'm not sure I'd make it a destination, but I wouldn't shy away from their IPA if I saw it on tap somewhere.

Quasi-beer related notes:
  • Cornucopia rocked both times I ate there. Homemade chicken pot pie one night and a reuben the next in which they make their own corn beef. And they've got great beers on tap.
  • College towns are happy-hour heavens. Renni's Landing, a great pub right off the University of Oregon campus had microbrew pitchers for $7.50 from 4 to 7 p.m. Taylor's had a $6 burger and beer special. Life is good and cheap in Eugene.

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