–Julia Crowley, EDN
The Local Lunch Gals were really excited about checking out Eugene’s newest brewery, Falling Sky Brewing. This quaint and casual brewery is located downtown, in an alley off of East 13th Avenue, between Willamette Street and Oak Street at 1334 Oak Alley.
Locating the alley off of East 13th Street wasn’t easy since there is no sign identifying the alley name. We did, however, spot the brewery right after we passed the alley, so we simply went back around the block and pulled into the alley. The parking lot that is adjacent to the brewery has limited spaces, but bike riders will have no problem finding a spot at one of the bike racks outside the front entrance. Although parking was limited, we actually didn’t have a problem finding a spot to park in either, but had the three Lunch Gals each decided to drive their own cars, we would have been out of luck.
Drivers should not be deterred from going to Falling Sky, however, it’s well worth getting your friends into one car to experience the kick-back atmosphere, delicious farm fresh menu items and the handcrafted full-flavored brews.
As soon as we entered through the front door, we took note of the colorfully painted chairs that lined the tables near the entrance. Large windows and a garage-style door over look the outdoor beer garden along one side of the restaurant while the other side is a wall of glass windows which provide full view of the gorgeous copper brewing equipment where patrons can watch the brewers in action. Long custom-made picnic tables were the center of seating, and I was instantly reminded of the many brew pubs I visited in Brugge, Belgium, where strangers sharing a table would soon be talking like old friends.
A sign directed us to order from the counter, so we headed that way. Chalkboard menus offered the daily salad and soup specials, local barrel to tap wine options, coffees and teas, hand-crafted sodas, and beer selections including the IBU’s (International Bitter Units) and the ABV’s (Alcohol By Volume) of each beer.
Since this was our first visit to Falling Sky, and we weren’t sure which beer to order, the staff suggested we try a flight of six different beers. Because Maria does not like bitter beer, she chose to sample the beers with the lower IBU’s. I like all types of beer, so I started with the lower IBU beers and ended with the highest. The beer flight was showcased, in order of how we ordered them, in a custom made cloud that mimicked the cloud in the Falling Sky logo.
We grabbed a couple of the food menus and sat down with our clouds of brew. The lunch menu was simple, with Snacks, Favorites, Sandwiches, a single Burger, two Sweets items and a good variety of Kids Eats. Some of the snacks were Mixed Nuts, House Pickles and Mushroom Paté. Favorites included Poutine and Chilaquiles, and two of the four sandwiches included a Pork Belly Cuban and a Roast Beef and Cheddar. Under Sweets, a choice of Cider Porter Ice Cream or Sorbet was available and some of the Kids Eats included a grilled cheese made with Tillamook cheddar and an all-organic on wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In fact, the menu clearly stated they use, “local, seasonal and organic ingredients whenever feasible,” and their proteins are local and sustainably raised with beef that is grass-fed.
Deciding on something was easy for me – I had been told that the Poutine was a must try, so that’s what I ordered. Poutine is a common Canadian dish where French fries are covered with cheese and a brown gravy sauce. The Poutine fries at Falling Sky comes with a mushroom gravy sauce and cheese curds. Maria had a difficult time deciding. There weren’t many selections available for her gluten intolerance and non-dairy restriction, but being the professional menu modifier that she is, Maria decided on a salad she spotted on the specials chalkboard: The Crispy Pig Ear Salad. What needed modifying was the pig ear, so Maria asked for chicken instead.
While we waited for our food, we began tasting the beers. Each beer was packed full of flavors and most certainly differed greatly from one another. From slightly malty to extremely hoppy, the Falling Sky brews were notably palatable. Of the six Maria tried, which included a semi-sweet hard apple cider, Incider, from Two Towns Ciderhouse out of Corvallis, she liked the cider and the Golden Naked Blonde. Maria found the Incider’s apple, honeysuckle and citrus flavors really pleasing, and the ale’s low IBUs created a smooth enough beer, perfect for her liking.
Of the six I tried, I absolutely loved the Pouring Porter. This English Brown Porter had a roasty, chocolately aroma with a medium body mouthfeel. Flavors included malt and caramel and the finish was sort of nutty and down right delicious. This was my kind of beer. I also really enjoyed the Golden Naked Blonde, like Maria, it was light, refreshing and easy drinking. A sweet malty aroma led to flavors of honey and a little spice, and of the six I tried, this was the lightest.
When our food arrived, my Poutine fries were piled high with a thick mushroom gravy that was absolutely mouthwatering. The creamy flavors of the gravy were delicious with the hand cut, perfectly cooked fries and cheese curds. This dish paired entirely well with my favorite of the beers, the Pouring Porter. Maria’s salad was a plate of farm fresh greens mixed with pickled fennel and a tasty balsamic vinaigrette topped with crispy fried chicken. She loved the pickled fennel-the flavors popped and a delectable crispness was added to the leafy greens. Her only problem was that there wasn’t enough. It was so delicious, she wanted more.
We were so relaxed and comfortable, we spent about three hours sipping beer and talking. We loved the eclectic mix of music, including jazz, blues and familiar tunes from Laura Fygi’s Dream A Little Dream to Norah Jones’ Feelin’ The Same Way.
These Local Lunch Gals are looking forward to returning soon, especially when it’s warm enough for the garage-style door to be up and open to the beer garden outside. And, with a cabinet full of games for kids, I’ll be bringing my whole family with me next time.