Hopped Up Eugene February 20-26
The Zwickelmania events from the weekend are a blur. I sampled quite a few specialty beers from Oakshire, Ninkasi, and Hop Valley (which included a tour of Hop Valley’s new facilities in the Whiteaker). But, for my first column of Hopped Up, I have to start with the biggest beer event in Eugene: The KLCC Microbrew Festival.
I love the KLCC Microbrew Festival, and you should too. Not because there are over 50 breweries with hundreds of beers. Not because local bands provide entertainment after you’ve filled your belly with endless tastes. And, not because it goes to the worthy cause of public radio. I love the KLCC Microbrew Festival because it kicks off beer season. The days are getting longer, the first flowers have arrived, and soon every weekend will be filled with craft beer. The two-day event from February 8th to 9th featured a wide array a breweries, meaderies and ciderhouses from Oregon to Vermont. The Lane Events center was packed, and over 50,000 tastes of beer were given to a thirsty crowd.
The list of beers I was looking forward to trying kept me busy the whole weekend. The usual favorites were on hand; including, local specialty beers from Ninkasi, Hop Valley, and Oakshire. Portland was well represented with standouts from Bridgeport, Burnside, and Hopworks Urban Brewery. The collaboration beers, an annual KLCC tradition for the past 18 or 19 years, is always a highlight of the weekend. This year, 10 local breweries took a tour of the British Isles, with brewing styles such as an English IPA and Dry Irish Stout. Each beer was required to have a base malt of at least 50% Maris Otter – Maris Otter is a traditional English malt that gives beer a nutty character and full body. My personal favorite from the compilation was from Brewers Union, located in Oakridge, Oregon. Their Local 180 served on Cask was a best bitter with light carbonation that perfectly fits the traditional style.
The best part of the weekend was tasting the many new breweries that made their first appearance at the festival. From right here in Eugene, Agrarian Ales and Claim 52 proved that the Willamette Valley is the place to be for craft beer. Agrarian Ales, located off of Coburg Road on 25 acres north of Eugene, has already made an impact on the Eugene beer landscape. They’re unique, in that they exclusively use hops grown right on their own farm. One of their standout beers is the Belgene Green. The brewers describe the beer as “a fusion of Belgian Saison boldness and Pacific Northwest hop-driven dankness” and I really couldn’t describe it any other way. It’s a good beer. Claim 52 is the newest brewery to hit town, and I expect good things from this 3 1/2 barrel small-batch craft brewery in the future.
Crux Fermentation Project, Base Camp Brewery Co., and Crazy Mountain Brewery have also all jumped on the scene in the last 12 months. Crux, another up and coming brewery out of Bend, Oregon, featured their balanced, but high in alcohol at 8%, IPA: Outcast. Base Camp, from Portland, Oregon, was crowd pleaser serving out their flagship beers, In-Tents IPL and S’more Stout. The Lava Lake Wit out of Vail, Colorado’s Crazy Mountain Brewery was one of my top beers from the weekend. It’s a low in bitterness beer (only 15 IBUS), and I came back to The Lava Lake Wit at the end of each night. This earthy Belgian witbier, with spices like coriander, chamomile, and a hint of orange peel, delights the senses.
Rusty Truck from Lincoln City, Oregon, made a big first impression, winning the second place People’s Choice Award for their Cherry Chocoholic Baltic Porter, coming in only behind Two Town’s Ciderhouse. The Baltic porter found the perfect balance between the decadence of chocolate and cherries. I think I’ll definitely be making a trip to visit this brewery that has only been around for just over two years.
Can you imagine a better way to kick-off beer season?
Beer Shops and Breweries
16Tons (Cafe): Wed. 7-10 pm, Trivia Night; Thu. 7-9 pm, Ninkasi’s Allies and Aliens – Mini Tap Takeover with Jeff Long. Jeff will be pouring samples of Allies and Aliens and more! El Dorado and other beers also on tap; Fri. 5-8 pm, Claim 52 Tap Takeover and Tasting. Meet the brewers and taste the beer. Every Fri. 6 pm, free live music; Every Sun. and Mon. 4-10 pm deals on growler and mason jar fills. 2864 Willamette St., Eugene.
16Tons (Taphouse): Wed. 5 pm, Mysterious, Unexplainable and Intriguing Beer Event!; Sun.-Wed. noon – 10 pm, Thu.-Sat. noon – 12 am (except New Year’s Eve). Great selection of beer and wine. 265 East 13th Ave., Eugene.
Agrarian Ales: Open Fri. 3-7pm. Tastes, growlers and dock sales. 31115 West Crossroads Lane, Eugene.
The Bier Stein: Wed. 7-9 pm, Green Flash Brewing Draft Night and Free Tasting. 345 E. 11 Ave., Eugene.
Claim 52: 1st and 3rd Fri. every month, 4-6 pm. Tastes and growlers; call for corn fills. 1030 Tyinn Street, Suite 1, Eugene.
Eugene City Brewery; Rogue Ales Public House/Track Town Ales: Open daily, Mon. 12-10pm; Tues.-Thurs. 12-11pm; Fri.-Sat. 12pm-12am; Sun. 12-9pm. 844 Olive St., Eugene.
Falling Sky Brewing: Open daily, Sun.-Wed. 11 am-12 am; Thu.-Sat. 11 am-1 am. 1334 Oak Alley, Eugene.
Fe-BREW-ary at the Springfield Museum: Exhibit focusing on Springfield’s brewing past. Open Daily. 590 Main St., Springfield.
Hop Valley Brewing: Open daily, Mon.-Thu. 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat. 11am-1am; Sun. 11am-10pm. 980 Kruse Way, Springfield.
McMenamins High Street Brewery and Cafe: Open daily, Mon.-Sat. 11am-1am, Sun. 12pm-12am. 1243 High St., Eugene.
Ninkasi Brewing: Tasting room hours: Sun.-Wed. 12-9 pm, Thu.-Sat. 12-10 pm. Indoor and outdoor seating, food available for purchase from varying food carts. 1055 Madera St., Eugene. Brewery Tours: 1:30, 4 and 7pm Tues.-Fri. 5pm. Sat. Events: Feb. 22, Last Art Walk. Feb. 25, Pints For A Cause- Long Tom Watershed.
Oakshire Brewing: Tasting room and dock sales (Pints on Fri. and Sat. only): Mon.-Thur. 3-6 pm. Fri. 3-7 pm. Sat. 12-5 pm. Indoor and outdoor seating, food available for purchase from varying food carts. 272 Van Buren St., Eugene. Brewery Tours: Every Saturday. Events: Live music 4:30 pm. Friday (Dirty Spoon) and 1:30 pm. Saturday (Spencer Creek Ramblers).
Plank Town Brewing Company: Opening Soon! 346 Main Street, Springfield.
Steelhead/McKenzie Brewing Company: Open daily. 199 E. 5th, Eugene.
– Did we miss something in Hopped Up? An event, a destination, a brewer? Let us know so it doesn’t happen again!
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