Destination: Beer

Fall Into Winter 2019 Beer Roundup

The old news is that Sam Bond’s Brewing went flat early in the summer. The new news is that Eugene’s historic Foundry Building at 540 E. 8th Avenue will now have its tanks filled by Gratitude Brewing, co-founded by Eugene natives Tristan Cooley and Josh Cosci.

They’ll be updating the interior and the beer selection, “hitting the reset button,” according to Cooley. Cosci’s decade of experience brewing around Central Oregon should translate well to thirsty Eugene with a 21st-century taplist of IPAs, sours, lagers and friends, paired with an “elevated pub grub” menu.

Cooley will make changes to the interior flow and seating arrangements, add a new bar, and update all of the necessary infrastructure. Gone will be the days of dark, heavy wood. It its place will be airy accoutrements to light up your pint. Give thanks!

The brewery, set to open this month, is directly east of the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse and is easily accessible by bike or car. It joins ColdFire and Steelhead as the eastern extension of the Eugene Beer “T,” a pub crawl of my own invention. Google it.

Brewers Union Local 180, 48329 E. 1st Street in Oakridge, will be renamed soon, as former Plank Town brewer John Crane has purchased the business from Ted Sobel. Sobel, who kicked out the jams with no shortage of Cockney, stuck to his beer engines for 11 years. Though perennially unpopular, his English-archetype brews earned him an underground reputation, and were quite lovely after a day in the mountains.

Crane, a Michigander and creative craftsman, got his first taste of commercial brewing at Brewers Union some years ago. He will augment, but not abandon, Sobel’s aesthetic.

“I’ll enhance what’s already there,” he says of the various cozy nooks around the pub. “The furniture, the tables will change over time” to custom work with comfortable edges.

More outdoor seating will be added, ideally with easy access to beer and food. The menu will also evolve, with a weekend brunch in the mix.

As a diehard fan of the public house, he hopes to attract new customers with “normal” beer and change up some of the decor to fit his own philosophy of beer drinkin’ spaces.

Crane will use a method of fermentation that is fairly uncharted on this side of the pond. Open fermentation — not to be confused with spontaneous fermentation — gives yeast some room to play without being as dominant as, say, a Belgian strain. Don’t worry, there will be hops!

Top cropping, or harvesting yeast from the pillowy head that occurs during fermentation, is a classic English and German method of harvesting happy, healthy yeast. It also adds an element of ancestry in the brewery, as top-cropped yeast can be used for years with the right care.

Already, the pub has seen an uptick in business even before Crane’s brews hit the taps. It’s a big deal in a small town.

Down south over yonder hills, Alesong Brewing & Blending, 80848 Territorial Highway, is just a year away from a Yahtzee! at the Great American Beer Festival. For four years in a row, the barrels-only brewery has come home with at least one piece of bling from the biggest beer competition in the world.

This year, Señor Rhino’s chili-cinnamon-cocoa-vanilla combo — and 12.5 percent stampede of alcohol — wooed judges for a bronze medal. That particular variant of is an endangered species, though; Mocha Rhino Suit is available in bottles at the Lorane tasting room.

Even farther down yonder hills, Cottage Grove’s Brewstation, 106 S. 6th Street, has begun small-batch beer production as South Fork Brewing. The pub has the best selection of beer in town and one of the nicest patios in the county on which to enjoy said beer.

Beer buyer Stephen Mathys will ride the stainless pony, with owner Emily Rinck picking up slack. The pair have more than 30 years of homebrewing experience between them.

“We follow our customers,” Rinck says of the business’s organic metamorphosis from backyard farm store and homebrew supply to its current status. When Brewstation opened five years ago as a growler station, people kept showing up wanting pints. Rinck and Mathys obliged at a Halloween party.

“People showed up. Beer enthusiasts started showing up, so we added a bottle selection,” says Mathys. Now, the bulk of beer sales are consumed in-house.

Because Mathys has identified a “cult of red” in Cottage Grove, the first brew is an Irish Red Ale. After that, in the “fizzy yellow” category, a Kölsch, and then an IPA. Good on them!

Hankering for a taste? Head on down, as there are no plans for distribution.