Wednesday started off in Eugene City and took us up to Corvallis and Albany later in the day.
•Eugene City Brew
844 Olive Street
Eugene, OR 97401
Eugene City Brew is located on the lower level of a restaurant, which gives it an appropriately dark pub atmosphere — even when you’re drinking there at nine in the morning like we did.
We ordered the sampler to get the full Eugene City experience and we were thoroughly pleased with almost the entire selection. We were particularly fond of the stout, which had rich coffee overtones and was heavy enough to rank as a meal in its own accord. After polishing off the sampler we each ordered a glass of our favorite to go with our meals.
All in all this was a spectacular way to start the day: a great selection of beers, good food and a great drinking environment.
•Wild Duck Brewery
169 West 6th Street
Eugene, OR 97401
Wild Duck had a great bar, which we naturally gravitated towards, and lots of merchandise such as pint glasses and T-shirts for sale with their distinctive logo.
The most unique beer we experienced at Wild Duck was their Hefeweizen, which was unusual in being very clear. Hefeweizens are generally cloudy due to the fact that it is an unfiltered beer, but Wild Duck’s process produces a remarkably clear beer with the same distinctive qualities. Served with the obligatory lemon wedge, it was very refreshing.
199 East 5th Avenue
Eugene OR, 97401
Steelhead is located in Eugene’s market district and has a lounge atmosphere. We relaxed in high-backed, plush chairs looking out on the street and enjoyed a variety of their lighter beers, including their amber and Hefeweizen.
420 Northwest 3rd Street
This was our first introduction to the Oregon brewing dynasty that is McMenamins. At last count, McMenamins owned and operated 28 pubs throughout Oregon. About half of the establishments brew the beer on location and the other half import it from their sister pubs. Their shared menu of beers means that you can find familiar micro-brews up and down the state.
The pub we chose for our first McMenamins visit was a small pub in the Irish tradition — high wood booths and a friendly atmosphere. This location didn’t brew their beer in-house, but that didn’t keep it from being good. I took a liking to their stout, which I would revisit in future visits to other McMenamins.
By this time we had worked off our early lunch at Eugene City, so we sampled some of the fare the restaurant had to offer. This McMenamins had more traditional pub food than the lavish brewery meals we’d been having recently: soup, salad and sandwiches were abundant. Inexpensive and good food.
•Oregon Trail Brewery
341 Southwest 2nd street
Corvallis, OR 97333
Oregon Trail is actually one of the older micro-breweries in Oregon, having been opened in 1987. It’s located at the back of a world market amongst art shops and a deli.
Their beer selection was nothing spectacular – this was a smaller brewery than most of the others we hit on our tour — but at the same time we weren’t displeased with anything we sampled.
•Oregon Trader Brewing
140 Hill Street
Albany, OR 97321
Housed inside Wyatt’s Eatery, the Oregon Trading Brewing Company was our dinner destination. The dining area is very spacious, with very high ceilings and art posted along the walls. The food was typical of an upscale brewery, but the beer selection was a little more exotic.
The brewers at Oregon Trader like to experiment with interesting seasonings in their beer. Their Hefeweizen is brewed with berries and their Hollybock has cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg added to spice it up. I chose the most extreme brew they offered to go with my meal — their Green Chili Lager. This spicy brew was definitely unique, but after a few sips I was less interested in its exotic flavor than I was in its lingering aftertaste. If you’re looking for a unique beer you should at least try it, but it definitely is an acquired taste.
As we moved farther north we started to pick up a little buzz amidst the brewery community. At one stop we told our bartender that we were headed north on a brewery tour and he said: "Oh yeah? You guys are going to stop at Edgefield, right?"
The only thing we had learned about Edgefield from our research was that it was a McMenamin’s establishment, so we didn’t really have any desire to go to yet another iteration of this franchise. We told the bartender as much.
"Oh no, it’s not just another McMenamin’s," our bartender admonished us with a twinkle in his eye. "Trust me, you want to check it out. It’s incredible."
Intriguing. Incredible was definitely on our to-do list.