Hopped Up Eugene

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March 6 – 12

Plank Town Brewing Co. made quite the splash in Eugene and Springfield this past week.  The new Springfield brewpub was packed through the weekend and made front-page news across town. I have to admit; I got completely caught up in the hype, and actually made a visit TWICE in the last week.

Plank Town, in Springfield, is the newest brewpub to open with a huge welcoming.
Plank Town, in Springfield, is the newest brewpub to open with a huge welcoming.

Yeah, I suppose that qualifies me as a fan.  You’ve probably heard that the fries are delicious, and yes, I can confirm with 100 percent certainty that they are. The burger and Cuban sandwich on their currently limited menu are also great picks.  For the next couple of months, Plank Town will only be serving guest taps.  But, with 18 different beer offerings, I wouldn’t worry about the beer selection.  They even offered a cask beer from Brewer’s Union, although by Saturday night they were already sold out. Other beers in the selection included mostly northwest local breweries with a couple of options in each style.  The Base Camp Ripstop Rye Pilsner that’s drinkable enough to be a session beer, but with a kick of rye, pairs perfectly with the large burger and delicious aioli.  The servers seem optimistic that they’ll have Plank Town beer on tap sometime in May, but since production of the brewery is still in process it may be sometime this summer before we see consistent beer out of this location on tap.  But with Steve van Rossem from Block 15 as Plank Town’s head brewer, I think the hype surrounding this brewery is more than a fad.

With all of the Plank Town anticipation, you may have missed another exciting local beer milestone.  Oakshire officially joined the likes of Hop Valley in offering canned beer.  Watershed IPA is now found in 12oz 6 packs along with the 22oz bottles in stores across Oregon and Washington.  Why can beer?  Bottom line: it’s better for beer.  Yes, that may seem counterintuitive since you’ve probably seen more Millers and Buds in cans than craft beer, but expect that to change. According to the different sources, there are between 200 and 300 craft brewers that are putting beer in a can.  That’s still a tiny percentage, but expect the number to continue to grow.  Here are five convincing reasons why you should consider cans over glass bottles for your next beer purchase:

5. Outdoor Adventure:  A summertime rafting adventure on the water is the perfect time to enjoy a craft beer (responsibly of course), a backpacking trip, or a mid-day rest on the ski slope.  A glass bottle just doesn’t make since to carry around, and often glass isn’t allowed in certain areas like outdoor concert venues.  With a can, problem solved.  It’s lighter, a single serving (for responsible drinking), and you’ll look pretty cool when you easily toss your friend a delicious craft beer across the water.

4. Get It To Go: The same problem you have while trying to lug your 22oz on your backpacking trip affects distributors too.  (Trust me on this one: I did a stretch of the PCT in Oregon and had my Dad meet me at certain points to bring me beer since carrying a 22oz over 300 miles was not my favorite option).  With cans, easier packaging and lighter loads means smaller breweries will be able to send more of their beer to more places while still being cost effective.  Plus, since the beer lasts longer in a can (look at reasons number one and two), worrying about the 3-month expiration date on the shelf will have less of an negative impact for your out-of-town beer favorites.

3. Go Green: I really don’t feel like I have to explain this, but recycling cans is much easier than glass. I could figure out how much my carbon footprint would change if I switched all my beer drinking to cans- but that would involve facing the reality of how much beer I drink, so that’s not going to happen.  Simply put, switching to can recycling is an awesome thing.

2. Light: Often referred to as “Skunked Beer”, a bottle that gets a lot of light exposure on the bottle often will have a “skunky character.”  Glass color (brown instead of green bottles) in another way brewers help prevent light exposure due to the different color wavelengths that light is absorbed.  There could be many reasons for a skunky taste, for example transitions between cold and warm storage, but cutting out light exposure with canning helps give you the best beer possible.

1. Oxidation: Oxygen interacting with the various parts of beer over time can create a stale taste. The malt flavors become more sticky-sweet or as some describe “lipstick tasting”. Diacetyl, which in certain styles ruins the flavor with a buttery taste, may be present with oxidation in some beers. Cans have less oxygen pickup, which keeps the beer fresher, longer. The best way this was described to me is pretty obvious, but true: cans are like mini-kegs.  We all know beer tastes better on draft.  This same philosophy is basically true for cans.

Cans are gaining traction in the craft beer community.
Cans are gaining traction in the craft beer community.

So why don’t more breweries can their beer?  Primarily because it’s a huge investment. Canning lines are extraordinarily expensive.  Add the start-up cost to the fact that people still associate cans with a “metallic taste” (not true) and stigma of domestic beer and it can be a pretty large financial risk.  Still, there are countless local breweries that are leading the “Canning Revolution.” It started with Oskar Blues eleven years ago and includes heavy-hitters such as 21st Amendment, Magic Hat Brewing Company, New Belgium, Redhook and Stone Brewing Company all offering cans for either all their beers or only a few select styles. Here in Oregon we have Boneyard Brewing (plans for this spring), Caldera Brewing, Coalition Brewing, Fort George Brewery, Hop Valley Brewing Co, Hopworks Urban Brewery, and now Oakshire Brewing just to name a few on the list.  So, if you are considering cans, go out there and support Hop Valley and Oakshire.  We’re not going to see more options from breweries unless we prove there’s a demand for the can!

Cheers,
Lana

EDN's Beer Writer, Lana O'Brien, loves talking about beer as much as she loves drinking it. From bartending to home-brewing and now writing for EDN, she's on a mission to discover the best local craft beers. Follow along in her weekly column, Hopped Up, every Wednesday. Connect @lanaobrien.

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