540 E 8th Ave., Suite A, Eugene, 541-654-5009, gratitudebrewing.com. 11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-11 pm Friday-Sunday.
TANKSGIVING / Eugene's newest brewery burst out of the gates with an inordinate dose of humility for the initial quality of both its beer and food. Taking over Sam Bond's Brewing, Gratitude made significant updates to both the brewery and kitchen. You could call chef Raymond Garcia's menu "Pacific Northwest classy" for its use of seasonal ingredients and thoughtful presentation. On the liquid side, a varied array of hop-forward yet balanced beers are bright and aromatic. Fifth Element, a New England-style IPA, is zesty and juicy—a big bada-boom of hops. For the malt-inclined, Hummingbird Porter is a gentle, calming beer, clean and smooth the way a porter should be. Daddy Said I Could Have Unicorns is a "Christmas on Venice Beach" beer—a kettle sour with seasonally fresh cranberry and tangerine added with a deft hand; it has a bit of cross-country ski and a bit of roller skating; it's June-uary in a glass. Aaron Brussat.
Claim 52 Brewing Kitchen
1203 Willamette St., No. 140, Eugene, 541-844-0152, claim52brewing.com. 11 am-10 pm daily. 1030 Tyinn St., Suite 1, Eugene, 458-205-8188. 3-8 pm Wednesday-Saturday.
JAZZ HANDS / Claim 52 brews some of the flashiest beer in Eugene. The "Thicc" series of fruited sour ales, which taste like something you might order at a chain that rhymes with "Mamba Moose," and super-aromatized IPAs are Claim's calling card, and some one-off batches offer humorous references to soft-rock sensations. However, the solid Westside IPA, a rotating selection of Belgian-style beers, and Admiral Red—a classic amber with a lovely burnt sugar flavor and a whiff of cocoa—speak to a softer side. The brewery's original hazy IPA, Fluffy, still holds its own and can be distinguished from others as actually having grain flavor rather than drowning you in hops. Ratcheting up intensity, Durban Poison and Temporal Distortion enter the realm of "tiki beers." Aaron Brussat.
Falling Sky Brewing
1334 Oak Alley, Eugene, 541-505-7096, fallingskybrewing.com. 790 Blair Blvd., Eugene, 541-653-9167. 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday. 1395 University St., Room 46, Eugene. 11 am-11 pm Monday-Friday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday-Sunday.
CANDY FACTORY / This Eugene brewpub staple boasts three locations in town, each supplying a varied menu and tap list in vibrant, social spaces. Falling Sky offers the most diversity of styles across Eugene, so go ahead and taste a few to figure out what fits your mood. Last year alone, the brewers here churned out around 80 new beers—among them the Spruce Wayne CDA, which took the nearly forgotten Cascadian dark ale and infused it with spruce tips for a fruity-piney punch. If it's been a while since you walked into a candy store, look no further than Dry Hop Creep Brut IPA. One whiff will send you back to the mall, with all its resplendent aromas displayed like so many bags of fruit jellies.
Alesong Brewing & Blending
80848 Territorial Highway, Eugene, 541-844-9925, alesongbrewing.com. Noon-6 pm daily.
OENOPHILES / Drink your way into the minds of Alesong's brewer-blenders, who produce some of the winningest beers in the country. A visit to their tasting room south of Eugene is worth the drive for the Sunset magazine rural getaway vibe, but the beer rewards further, and it's served by knowledgeable staff. Ninety-nine percent of Alesong's offerings are barrel aged, meaning you can expect added complexity from the wood and the prior occupant of the vessel. Belle, aged in French oak with Mirabelle plums, gets its tartness from a mixed-culture fermentation, and you end up tasting something akin to a Bellini. For those who are "not drinking any fucking merlot," there's Terroir: Cabernet Sauvignon, with baked apple and black cherry flavors. Alesong also brews strong, dark beers. Rhino Suit is an aptly named imperial stout; it's refined, but if you drink too much—an easy feat—it will gore you. Aaron Brussat.
263 Mill St., Eugene, 541-636-3889, coldfirebrewing.com. 4-9 Monday-Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-9 pm Sunday.
LIGHT MY FIRE / ColdFire is 5 years old going on 15. The young brewery, which made its name as a family-friendly place with a beer for everyone (except the kids, of course), has grown into its britches remarkably fast, and the beer continues to delight. The range of styles, from pale and dark lagers to floriferous wild ales and everything in between shows a strong understanding of the fundamentals of brewing. Long story short: It's hard to go wrong here. Start with a Honky Tonk Angel, a black lager with aromas of cocoa and toffee brewed for local Japanese restaurant Izakaya Meiji. And to cap off your night, order the Nocturne Sonnet Imperial Porter, which has hints of cabernetlike fruitiness, licorice and luscious milk chocolate. Don't leave without getting something from the hop field, like Cumulus Tropicalus—perennially popular thanks to its intense waft of tropical and citrusy hops.Aaron Brussat.
The Wheel Apizza Pub
390 Lincoln St., No. 101, 541-735-3860, thewheelapizzapub.com. 11 am-9 pm Monday-Tuesday, 11 am-10 pm. Wednesday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-9 pm Sunday.
RISE AND SHINE / The Wheel gets two things totally right: pizza and beer. Its spin on the lesser-known New Haven pie uses a naturally leavened dough for great flavor and digestibility, baked to a fine, leopardy char on a hot, hot stone. And refreshing, clean lagers, like Vanora Amber and Columns Black, pair particularly well with slices and salads. The fact that both pizza and beer travel less than 20 feet to get to your mouth, and many ingredients are sourced locally, makes this a popular destination for dates and families. Speaking of fresh, the Haze 4 Days series of IPAs rotates in new and popular hop varieties with each batch and shouldn't be missed. Also, don't overlook any collaborations between head brewer Tobias Schock and other beer makers, vintners or distillers. The Dark and Stormy, for instance, aged in rum barrels from Thinking Tree Spirits just 15 minutes away, has deep molasses notes and enough cocktail inspiration to transport you to the nearest speak-easy. Aaron Brussat.
Oakshire Brewing Public House
207 Madison St., Eugene, 541-654-5520, oakbrew.com. 11am-10 pm daily.
ROOTED IN COMMUNITY / A visit to Oakshire's Public House illustrates the brewery's popularity: It's rarely empty. A rotating art gallery keeps the décor interesting, the venue regularly hosts events for organizations, and staff members bust their butts and know how to talk beer. But the contents of the kegs is the main draw. Known for its boldly flavored beers, Oakshire's tap list typically features an array of distinctive IPAs, strong dark ales and sours—though all are balanced and complex. A Life Beyond the Dream is a dangerously drinkable double IPA with hints of tropical fruit and pine. For a velvety slice of pie in the winter months, you can't go wrong with the Big Black Jack imperial porter laced with pie spices, with only a hint of pumpkin. In 2019, Oakshire opened its Beer Hall in Northeast Portland, essentially eliminating the need to drive south for its beers, but one would be remiss never to attend the annual Hellshire festival of barrel-aged beer in Eugene. Aaron Brussat.
Ninkasi Brewing Better Living Room
155 Blair Blvd., Eugene, 541-735-9500, ninkasibrewing.com. 11 am-11 pm daily.
NEW DIGS / Come February, you can step into the Better Living Room, Ninkasi's new restaurant on the first floor of its administration building. The renovated space replaces the long-standing tasting room on Van Buren Street and introduces a menu of farm-to-table dishes and the brand's own offerings. It'll soon be nearly impossible to sample all of the beers in one visit, as the tap list will expand to feature 40 beverages. The 5-barrel pilot brewery, visible from the entrance, is a playground for brewers, who use it to practice different techniques and play with ingredients. We're all thankful Ninkasi added Pilsner to its regular lineup—the beer requires no more description than that. Drink it. Gods be praised, the original Oatis Oatmeal Stout is back (replacing the vanilla-tinted edition). Its burly 7 percent ABV puts fuzzy handcuffs on your tongue and proceeds to treat you real, real nice. Aaron Brussat.
Plank Town Brewing
346 Main St., Springfield, 541-746-1890, planktownbrewing.com. 11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday, 9 am-11 pm Saturday, 9 am-10 pm Sunday. 35831 Highway 58, No. 2, Pleasant Hill, 541-746-9619. 11:30 am-10 pm daily.
SPRINGING UP / It can't be overstated: Plank Town Brewing was a catalyst for Springfield's downtown revival. Now surrounded by more restaurants and watering holes, the business still holds it down in the food and drink department. Plank Town's beers are succulent, hearty and balanced. Darker offerings, like Streetcar Stout, get even more interesting when served from a cask at cellar temperature (not warm!). Blue Pool Pils, named for the popular McKenzie River hiking destination, is refreshing without sacrificing flavor—bring a sixer of this to the river. For a dose of liquid courage, Hobbit's Habit is a true legacy brew; head brewer Steve van Rossem's original creation for West Brothers Brewery last millennium is still a popular beer, and sings Barry White to your tonsils. Aaron Brussat.
If you’re staying:
Beer-Themed Mecca on Airbnb
Look up "Experience Eugene from the Heart of the Whiteaker" on Airbnb to book.
HOMEBREW / The average residence on Airbnb, if you're lucky, comes with clean sheets and more than one towel. That wasn't enough for Eric Curtiss, who rents out a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Eugene's beer-dense Whiteaker neighborhood. He furnished the place with products from his side business, Brewupcycle, which turns old staves and grain sacks into everything from stylish seating to backpacks. You'll also find an original pub table from Short's Brewing in Bellaire, Mich., modified to serve as a display case for glassware. Guests get a free grain bag tote, and Curtiss loves to share his homebrew if you're not ready to crash and want to drink some more at the end of the day. Andi Prewitt.