Zwicklemania: Eugene Brewery Tour

Trading in my hiking shoe for the day, I took to a different kind of trail in Eugene, Oregon – the Ale Trail for Zwicklemania.

Featuring dozens of Oregon breweries and brewpubs across the state, Zwicklemania is a sudsy celebration of craft brew. In its fourth year, Zwicklemania is a free event hosted by the Oregon Brewers Guild on President’s Day weekend. Organized by regions throughout the state, visitors have a chance to meet the brewers and sample their favorite beers for a unique day of pint-filled fun.

Named after the small sampling value that can be attached to fermentation tank, this event is made for Zwicklemanics, homebrews, craft brewlovers…but most importantly anyone interested in drinking great Oregon craft beer!

In Eugene, five breweries and pubs opened there doors for the event and a bus sponsored by Rogue ran on a loop around town to shutter visitors.

Oakshire

Known for their super rare, single-batch medleys, Oakshire crafts high quality brews with creativity and spunk. Located along the railroad tracks in the industrial part of Eugene, Oakshire produces three year round ales: Amber, Watershed IPA and Espresso stout.

Oakshire Brewery Company beer samplesFor Zwicklemania, I ordered up their tasting board which featured their three year-round brews plus a tasting of the Spring Seasonal, O’Dark 30.

Like an overly-honest friend, The O’Dark 30 with a dark malty flavor was upfront and awesome. With its richness and weight that ignited your taste buds without killing them with zing, the O’Dark 30 was by far my favorite sample from this brewery stop.

Oakshire’s tasting room is open every Saturday from noon – 5 p.m. with brewery tours occurring at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Additional hours include: 3 – 6 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 3 – 7 p.m. on Fridays.

1055 Madera St., Eugene, OR 97402 – ( 541) 688-4555

Ninkasi Brewing Company

Located in the heart of the Whiteaker Neighborhood, Ninkasi serves up tingling-good craft brews. From their Total Domination IPA, which has taken the craft brew market by storm in the Pacific Northwest, to the brewery’s popular seasonal flavors like Renewal and Spring Reign Ale, Ninkasi’s beers offer delicious variety for every beer-lovers’ tastes.

For the event I stated with a sample of their always-awesome IPA with a beef slider on their outdoor patio and then moved indoors to taste their Pilsner.

Ninkasi is open Sunday – Wednesday, noon – 9 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday, noon – 10 p.m.

272 Van Buren Street, Eugene, Oregon 97402 – (541) 344-2739

Falling Sky Brewery tour and tastingFalling Sky Brewery

Eugene’s newest brewpub, Falling Sky Brewery joins the pouring club and in style for its first Zwicklemania. With a full house of regular customers this saturday, the brewery and pub is a lively spot located between downtown and the University district. Serving a selection of hand craft beers from around the state along with recently released in-house creations, Falling Sky specializes in rainy day pints – when it pours outside, Falling Sky pours for 25 cents off. (Lucky for us Eugenians because it rains an awful lot!)

Complimenting their beers, Falling Sky Brewery also offers a lunch and dinner menu featuring food items that are bigger and better than your average brew-pubs such as Pork Rillette and Beer Poached Chicken, but still at a great value.

Falling Sky Brewery is open Sunday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – midnight and Thursday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.

1334 Oak Alley, Eugene, OR 97401 – (541) 505-7096

McMenamins High Street Brewery & Cafe

From classic Ruby bubbles to zingy IPAs and the most delicious Cajun tots around the McMenamins on High Street showcases brews that go down like old friends. Located in a historic, renovated 1900s house styled with dark wood tables & booths (kind of like what I imagine the Three Broom Sticks -Harry Potter pub- would look like), this McMenamins has all the pub charm needed plus fantastic beer and food to tops – plus it was the first microbrewery in Eugene since Prohibition.

The Brewer, Charlton Fulton, who creates specialty batches of his own recipes from the basement of the house along with the chain favorites, produces craft beers for both the High Street and North Bank locations. For Zwicklemania, Fulton took visitors on tours of the basement brewery, which features its painted steel cask.

In September visit for the annual Mid-Valley Brewfest.

High Street Brewery & Café is open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. and Sunday, noon – midnight.

1243 High Street, Eugene, OR 97401 – (541) 345-4905

Rogue Beer SampleRogue Public House

The home of Track Town Ales, the Eugene Rogue Public House knows how to serve its customers and keep them running back for more with in-house favorites and tried & true brews.

Based from the original historic Eugene City Brewery, Rogue keeps a laid back pub style that is cozy and comfortable for sharing a couple of pints with friends. Crafting artisan varietals, the pub has 35 beers on tap including the infamous Track Town Ales: 100 Meter, 200 Meter and Triple Jump. Along with their wide variety of brews, Rogue also serves a full lunch and dinner menu and during the week hosts fun trivia and bingo nights.

Rogue Public House is open Monday, noon – 10 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday, noon – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday, noon – midnight, and Sunday, noon – 9 p.m. and offers brewery tours weekdays at 4:30 p.m.

844 Olive Street, Eugene, OR 97401 – 541-345-4155

More Eugene Area Breweries & Bottle Shops:

Pass Me a Beer

First taste of whisky barrel-aged beer

Dark savory brews that tingle on the tongue. Aged and perfected. Carmely and big on flavor with a high alcohol content. Mix all these descriptions together and you have a night of tastings at The Bier Stein’s Whisky Barrel-Aged Beer Fest. Presented by BrewPublic and just one of the amazing events at the 2011 Eugene Beer Week, this festival brought in the crowds Wednesday night to the small brewpub that offers awesome beer experiences every night of the week.

As a beer drinker and beer lover I was very excited for this event and the whole week in general, but had no idea what to expect to taste at the Whisky Barrel-Aged Beer Fest – honestly I didn’t really know what Whisky Barrel-aged beer was, but I was quickly educated.

Whisky Barrel-aged beer is…well…like it sounds. It is beer that has been aged in a barrel that previously held whisky. Like wine, beer can be stored over time in oak barrels and as it ages, the beer takes on the characteristics of the barrel. With time and some handy-crafting by the brewmasters, the whisky-barrel-beers show off complex layers and rich flavors.

At the Bier Stein’s fest, the bar tapped 10 different whisky-barrel aged beers and had another 16 available to taste from bottles (and this is on top of the bar’s selection of over 1000 different bottles of beer).

I tried seven different brews over the course of the evening. Each had unique characteristics and flavors.

  • The Bruery Coton 2nd Anniversay Ale (14.5% abv, 45 ibu)
  • HUM Kronan the Bourbarian Baltic Porter (9.2% abv, 25 ibu)
  • Oakshire Kilted Badger served on NITRO (6.9% abv)
  • Big Sky Olde Bluehair 2010 (10.5% abv)
  • He’brew Vertical Jewbelation (10.5% abv)
  • Schlafly Imperial Stout 2008 (10.5% abv, 50 ibu)
  • Widmer BrrrBon (9.4% abv, 40 ibu)

My favorite of the evening was the Bruery Coton with a sweet, malty taste almost like burnt sugar and a touch of vanilla, its lingering flavors left me wanting more. However, for almost all of these beers I think one glass would be my topper because of their thickness and strong flavors are made to be savored and drank slowly – plus I think it would burn out my taste buds for much else afterward.

For more on Eugene Beer Week (May 2-8, 2011) and the full schedule of events go to www.eugenebeerweek.com. If you haven’t made it to an event yet, swing by the Sasquatch Brew Fest on Saturday, May 7 at the Hilton to try the best of the Pacific Northwest – You can be sure that I’ll be there!

*abv = Alcohol by volume

*ibu = International bitterness unit