In February Dave and I were invited by Travel Lane County to Eugene and Springfield to meet with local brewers and sample many great beers coming out of the area.
After a night at the KLCC Microbrew Fest and some sampling of the local bar scene, we started our day at the Broadway Inn where as you can see, all the classy out-of-town brewers stay. I also recommend the hotel’s neighbor, Burrito Boy, to satisfy your stomach after last call.
Hop Valley Brewing
Our first stop was Hop Valley Brewing in Springfield. You couldn’t miss the giant sign right off of I-5 and the Gateway Mall.
The location has quite a local history. Prior to producing beers for Hop Valley, the building and the 15-barrel system was home to Spencer’s Butte Brewpub and where the first Ninkasi beers were made.
Open for one year, Hop Valley makes a wide variety of styles including the DD Blonde, 541 Lager, Step Child Red, a Vanilla Porter and, where they really excel, the Alphadelic IPA and the Alpha Centauri Imperial IPA.
Our next stop was Ninkasi. Our trip was during Zwickelmania and Ninkasi’s new tasting room was packed. The purple shirted clan was a “drinking club” named the Royal Drunks and some members certainly lived up to at least half of their name. The tasting room is open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.
Head brewer Jamie Floyd led us on a tour of the brewery and showed us where the brewery will be expanding. Ninkasi’s growth is explosive. They started on a 15-barrel system at what is now Hop Valley, opened the brewery with a 20-barrel system and are now up to a 30-barrel system. Last year the company produced 19,500 barrels and estimates 32,000 barrels in 2010.
Helping fuel that growth, Ninkasi is now available at all Safeways and most Costcos in Oregon. Total Domination is the company’s top seller, accounting for 60 percent of their total sales.
Our day concluded at Oakshire Brewing which is growing at a significant rate as well. In 2006 the company started on a 4-barrel system as Willamette Brewing. They are now up to a 16-barrel system and took production from 300 barrels in 2007 to 2,000 barrels in 2009. Built for growth, they have the capacity to produce 7,500 barrels and are aiming for 3,600 in 2010.
Brewer Matt Van Wyk was our host for the day and seeing as how it was Zwickelmania, he poured us a couple of tastes from the fermenters. Most notable was the 2-day old O’Dark:30 that to the surprise of everyone was already tasting great.
Oakshire’s biggest sellers are the Watershed IPA and the Overcast Espresso Stout. The stout features cold pressed espresso from local roaster Wandering Goat that is added to the beer as it is being transferred from the fermenter to the brite tank.
Next stop… Corvallis.