Although being stuck at home for some has already been a chance to day drink like it’s college, now that spring is here, it’s beer season. Sure, COVID-19 has canceled many Memorial Day weekend events, but we at Eugene Weekly asked local breweries to send us what’s hot, so we can help you make the most of your drinking.
Claim52Brewing.com | 1203 Willamette Street | 541-844-0152
When Eugene Weekly dropped by Claim 52’s brewery off 11th Avenue, we learned how popular the Thicc series of puree gose beer has been. We were told that the Thicc: Blueberry Pie sold out online fast.
It’s not the typical hops beer you’d see on tap. This beer’s conditioned on blueberry, vanilla, graham cracker and cinnamon. When we cracked open a can of it, we found out why it made Claim 52’s website crash. The beer — if you can call it that, since it’s almost a beer smoothie — was something that you could sip on during the holidays. The only way to make it better would be with a scoop of vanilla ice cream dumped inside.
The next drink we tried in the Thicc series was the Painkiller, another beer that quickly sold out, and it was a huge hit with EW staff. Like Blueberry Pie, Painkiller was a sweet delight that was overall an amazing drink. The beer was like a creamy pineapple and orange juice smoothie — a drink that’s going to make you forget about Disneyland’s Dole Whip.
Claim 52’s Corey Wolf Hart Hazy IPA balanced out the hoppy nature of an IPA with citrus, which for EW’s resident IPA haters made it a little more drinkable. Claim 52 also sent us a Kolsch (one of the brewery’s more popular beers), which is best summed up as a more full-bodied update on the typical “dad beers” — and gave one of the tasters happy, but no longer socially appropriate, memories of sipping the foam off her dad’s Budweiser. Hop lovers on the other hand will find refuge in the way the IPA balances hoppiness with juicy fruit flavors.
FallingSkyBrewing.com | 790 Blair Boulevard | 541-653-9167
Falling Sky has reopened its restaurants, so it’s time to start filling up your growlers. The more sophisticated reactions to Pub Life found the beer had a malt-forward taste and a little soapy mouth feel. Non beer-aficionados just said it made their tongue feel “weird.”
Falling Sky says the beer has aromas of fruit and some hoppy bitterness.
Queen of the Underworld Pomegranate Sour offered us a tart adventure — which some of the staff didn’t want to take. It hit the mouth hard like the Warheads sour candy: an amazing taste for those who like sour and tart. The Dark Heart Munich Dunkel Lager, though, took our tasting of the brewery to another end of the spectrum. The beer was heavy with toasty notes, as well as chocolate, malt and caramel. The anti-IPA crowd was in heaven.
NinkasiBrewing.com | 155 Blair Boulevard | 541-344-2739
In February, Ninkasi opened The Better Living Room, a new restaurant that has a five-barrel Pilot Brewery. It’s a way for brewers to play around with new recipes and ideas, the company tells EW.
Ninkasi sent over two of its beers that are on a 3-month rotation: Party Rice Lager with Lime and Kettle Sour Juicy IPA. The Party Rice Lager (which is brewed in collaboration with Party Downtown) is a mildly hoppy beer that didn’t offend the hop-sensitive among us and was deemed easy to drink and would be refreshing after a long day in the sun.
The Kettle Sour Juicy IPA is also easy to drink, even with its slight sourn ess that gets balanced with the presence of hops.
Peach Made in the Shade Summer IPA is like a mullet of IPAs: It puts hops in the front and has fun with the fruitiness of peaches in the back. Again the hop-happy and hop-hatey were divided on this one.
Ninkasi worked with Glimmer Tech on the 12-packs, so when you scan the package with a smartphone, an Asteroids-like game pops up. You have to defend summer by fighting off little invaders. Sorry, Ninkasi, but it’s a little too late to defend summer now.
Block15.com | 3415 SW Deschutes Street, Corvallis | 541-752-BEER
This brewery is one of the best reasons to head up to Corvallis, and what’s just as good as its beer is its artistic labeling for every beer. Among the selection the brewery sent us was Nebula Oat Stout, which was delightfully thick. EW tasters said this is a beer that can easily become a campfire favorite or one to warm you up during the dark winter nights, or maybe the rainy nights of COVID spring, because of its chocolate milk and toasty marshmallow tasting notes.
The brewery also sent its Gloria Pilsner, which is a light hoppy but watery beer. One of EW’s staffers said it tasted like the beer had been left outside overnight and soaked in the ambient nature moisture. But when another taster suggested its lightness made it a great rafting beer, she agreed. Can you social distance on a raft? If so, it’s beer time.
And then there was Sticky Hands. One of EW’s IPA haters uttered, “Oh, no!” when she took a sip. That’s actually a good sign for those who appreciate the special bitterness that hops provide. The beer is next level hoppiness and at times feels like you’re chomping into a dank piece of weed — and if your thing is hops, this is your beer.
Block 15 sent a Belgian-style beer, too. Illuminated Belgian-Style Tripel Ale tasted a lot like a typical Belgian: full of yeast but also full bodied. Like IPAs, EW beer savvy tasters were divided on it mostly because of our views on Belgian-style beers. The non-beer people apparently like drinking bread.
Portland Cider Co.
PortlandCider.com | 8925 SE Jannsen Road, Bldg. F, Clackamas | 503-908-7654
Everyone needs a refreshing, crisp summer cider, and Portland Cider Co.’s Razzberry Cider does not disappoint. This was the only cider that made its way into our tasting, and it was easy to drink and easy to enjoy. Like most of the company’s other ciders, the Razzberry is a tasteful balance of tart and sweet. EW staff agreed that the berry flavor was strong, but not artificial. Instead, the cider boasts a real fruit taste, pure enough for a warm, sunny day. The Razzberries didn’t taste like Snozzberries.
2 Towns Ciderhouse
2townsciderhouse.com | 33930 SE Eastgate Circle, Corvallis | 541-207-3915
Way back before COVID-19 put the world on pause, 2 Towns sent EW a couple samples of its Prickly Pearadise, an annual cider made with prickly pear cactus fruit and Northwest apples, which might sound like a weird combination but was a melony sip that made summer feel just just a global pandemic away.