Eugene might want to update its slogan: “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors — and Beer.” Claim 52 Brewing, a west Eugene craft brewery that began first and third Friday dock sales in November, is adding a European-style flavor (among others) to the local offerings.
“We would like to present a beer style that is the equivalent to the pinot noir,” says Mercy McDonald, who began the brewery with Trevor Ross, a family friend and award-winning home brewer. “There’s a lot of variety in it, it pairs well with a lot of different kinds of foods.”
McDonald and Ross plan to have a variety of different brews, but they say their focus will be “sessionable” beers, those with lower alcohol content that can be enjoyed for longer drinking sessions. One of these beers is the German-style Claim 52 Kölsch, a fresh, light beer that is one of Ross’ favorites to brew. “While we’ll have a couple IPAs and a couple high-gravity beers, I think our intent is to have beers that have a low gravity that you can enjoy over a longer period of time and that have the body and balance that pair well with food,” McDonald says.
McDonald and Ross aren’t only thinking of the brewery as a place to make great beer; they’re also picturing it as an educational brewery that could help people learn about home brewing from a system that’s fairly similar — the 3.5-barrel brew system is just a step up from the home brew system where Ross has been honing his skills for years. “I think what [Ross] would like to eventually do is incorporate some weekends where people can come in and it will be small enough groups that they have an ability to ask all the questions they want, get walked through the system and have a resource to problem-solve when they get home and walk through it themselves,” McDonald says.
Claim 52 is the name of the pioneer land claim where Ross’ house now sits, and both Ross and McDonald thought a locally centered name was fitting on a number of levels. “That’s where he was honing his skills and sharing beers with his friends,” McDonald says. “We decided it would be good to pull back to that area since that’s where his craft started.”
While Claim 52 is the latest in a surge in local breweries, McDonald says she pictures local breweries as competing against larger, Coors-sized companies as the locavore movement generates more and more appreciation for local food. “It makes me feel like there’s a window of opportunity for these smaller localized breweries to chew away at that, rather than at each other,” she says.
Beers from Claim 52 are already available at South Eugene and Blair Laughing Planets, 16 Tons, The Bier Stein, Hot Mama’s Wings, Blairally Vintage Arcade, Pantry and Pub, Holy Cow, The Barn Light, Cornucopia on 17th. The next dock sale will be 4 to 6:30 pm Friday, Jan. 18, at 1030 Tyinn St. Suite 1. — Shannon Finnell