With the quality hops that come out of the Willamette Valley and the clean water supply, it’s no big secret that Oregon has a solid craft beer scene. Portland is hyped up – a tad too much in my book – and Bend gets a nod as well, but have you heard of the other fantastic craft beer scene in the city of Eugene?
Eugene gives Portland a run for its money in terms of quality over quantity. You’ll see brews from here all over Oregon, as guest taps in dive pubs to classy craft breweries. Overall, the beers from Eugene are versatile, hopped up, and delicious.
You don’t get the wacky creativity that comes out of a select few breweries in Portland, or more likely, California, but there is an abundance of very well-breweed beers around Eugene.
I’ve had the chance to explore the craft beer culture in Eugene because my dad and stepmom live just outside the city, in Veneta. Luckily, my dad is a big beer drinker as well, so I was able to have some father-daughter bonding while doing this “research” around town.
He’s partial to IPAs and big hops, which works well in the Pacific Northwest and most of this list, but I was able to find a few beers that veered off the hops that he liked. Again, versatility is key when I think of a good craft beer scene.
The big deal in craft beer right now, Ninkasi Brewing is not only popular in Eugene but in the whole state of Oregon. You’ll be hard pressed to find a bar without one tap of Ninkasi (usually Total Domination) in it. They only started in 2006, but it’s a brewery that has grown exponentially in the last few years and one that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Although they don’t bring the creativity that Rogue Ales does, they’re arguably becoming the most popular brewery in Oregon right now.
Everything about Ninkasi is big, bold, and clean. Total Domination IPA is the key favorite, but Dawn of the Red IRA and their specialty Belgian style beers are also worth a try.
Address: 272 Van Buren St. Eugene, Oregon 97402
Falling Sky Brewing House & Gastropub
Don’t get me wrong, the beer at Falling Sky Brewing House is superb, but what really sold me about this place was their unique branding and ambiance. Their tasting trays come in the shape of a cloud and the staff was so laid-back and friendly, I couldn’t imagine not having a good time at this brewery.
Also, they have poutine – could you ask for any better combination than poutine and craft beer?
Their tap list is constantly changing, but while I was there I highly enjoyed the Smoking Eternal Boy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, Hunny Brown, and their Belgian Brown. European styles seemed to be their specialty but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a different experience and tap list next time I stopped by.
If I’m being completely honest, this is my favorite brewery in Eugene for their quality beer and atmosphere…and poutine. This is where you’ll most likely find eccentric beers on tap.
Address: 1334 Oak Alley, Eugene, OR 97401
Oakshire Brewing came off as the neighborhood craft beer pub in Eugene. I went to the public house location on Madison St., and it was airy, open, and the perfect communal spot to go to with friends after work or on the weekend. Compared to the rest of the breweries on this list, Oakshire didn’t particularly stand out to me in any way but I did enjoy every beer of theirs that I tasted.
Oakshire is a 15-barrel production brewery with their Watershed IPA and Oakshire Amber as the most popular brews. I also enjoyed their seasonal Hopollo Northwest IPA while I was there.
Address: Public House – 207 Madison St. Eugene, OR 97402; Brewery – 1055 Madera St. Eugene, OR 97402
Hop Valley Brewing
Another brewery that came off as fairly average to me, Hop Valley is a relatively new brewery in Eugene and has quickly become another neighborhood favorite.
You could probably guess this from the name, but Hop Valley is all about hopped up beers. They’re also into fruit focused beers – i.e. Citrus Mistress IPA (brewed with grapefruit peel) and Sir Orange Lot Pale Ale (brewed with orange peel). Although I found the quality up to par, some of the IPAs were hard to tell apart from each other and I was left wanting more variety in flavors.
I would call this the entry level craft brewery in Eugene, perfect if you’re just after a solid pint, good music, or new to the craft beer scene.
Address: 990 W 1st Ave. Eugene, Or 97402
One of my favorites of the bunch due to its rural middle-of-nowhere location, you can tell Agrarian is a family-run operation from first glance – in a good way.
The brewery is located on the farm where they actually grow the hops for their beer, and it’s a classic spot to go listen to live music and enjoy a local feel while drinking delicious brews. In terms of farm-to-table, it doesn’t get much fresher than Agrarian with both your beers and your food.
Being a farmhouse brewery, the tap list at Agrarian is constantly new and evolving. They brew a variety of styles with a heavy focus on Belgian and saison beers. If you only like IPAs this probably isn’t the brewery for you since they normally don’t have many (if any) on tap. Also, they win the award for the most creative names for their beers – just look at their tap list!
Just as a side note, there are no indoor bathrooms here, so if using a porta potty (or porta loo for you non-Americans) is your worst nightmare, you may not want to drink too much liquid while you’re here.
*Update: Agrarian now has indoor bathrooms! Rejoice!
Address: 31115 Crossroads Ln W, Eugene, OR 97408
Elk Horn Brewery
This is the only brewery I haven’t been to on this list, but I didn’t want to leave it off since it has been mentioned in the Eugene craft beer scene. From the pictures I’ve seen of the place, Elk Horn Brewery has the word hipster written all over it – which can be a good thing when you’re talking about craft beer.
This could most definitely be called a gastropub as the couple who started the brewery first began with a food cart called Delacata. This is a place that has been given the nod of approval by Eugene foodies, so it’s definitely on my list to visit next time I’m in town.
I unfortunately haven’t heard much about their beer but I’m looking forward to trying it in the near future.
Address: 686 E Broadway St. Eugene, OR 97401
Have you been to any of these breweries? What is your favorite city for craft beer in Oregon?
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