The Eugene Experience

Having spent the last week in the Eugene area, I have come to realize just how into being local Eugene is. Many restaurants in the area pride themselves in a concern for organic ingredients from area farms. The same can be said of Eugene’s craft beer culture. Eugene has two “major” breweries-Ninaksi and Oakshire-and most places in The Emerald City carry beers (that’s plural) from both. Now when it comes to bars to drink at around town, the first place that often comes to mind for most familiar with the Eugene area is Bier Stein. But there has to be more to the beer scene then just this one fabulous beer spot, right? During this most recent trip to the area, I set out to experience other great places to have worthwhile beers.

Wandering Goat Coffee Co.: Yes, this coffee house has beer on tap-20 to be exact-and they claim that the majority of them are organic. Being located just a short walk from Ninaski, this is an acceptable spot to stop in have a beer and a lite snake while doing some peoplewatching. This place is often teeming with mega-hippies and anarchist hipsters hanging out front. Their Chupacabra espresso is one of the main ingredients in Oakshire’s beloved, heavily caffeinated Stout. This place is definitely a staple in Eugene and if you want to experience radical culture at it’s pinnacle then this is a good place to start.

Sam Bond’s Garage: Being located just a couple of blocks from Ninaksi, Sam Bond’s Garage is a key place to hit up in the evening. There is music most nights and the food served is organic and local. This place has the feel of an old beer hall. Recently, Sam’s tied for third place in The Eugene Weekly for “Best Selection of Beer on Tap” with Eugene City Brewery (Eugene’s Rogue Brewery. Bier Stein, of course got first place) and was also named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine.

Wetlands Brew Pub and Sports Bar: If you are near Oakshire and are looking for another place to stop in and have a pint, check out the Wetland. They have 50 beers on tap and two full bars. The atmosphere is stale due to the fact that it is an old converted Denny’s (at least that is what it seems like) but with 50 beers on tap you are bound to find something on tap to enjoy.

Cornucopia: Having added a second location in the last year makes you realize that Eugene has a growing beer culture. It’s the standard pub grub at this place but with a killer local beer selection. Upon last checking, they had two Oakshire beers, two Ninaksi beers and one Rogue beer on tap. There’s definitely lots of local flavor to be had here.

Cafe 440: Finally, Track Town USA’s newest place to check out. Don’t be turned off by the fact that this place is located in a new strip mall. Owner Todd Schuetz and Executive Chef Kathryn Reeves both come from the Bier Stein and they turned it up a notch to offer a classy, modern touch on your typical pub. Keeping with the Eugene conscience frame of mind, the food and beer are local and served with a smile. Friendly serves if highly stressed at this place. As for the drinks, Schuetz stated in an interview for the Register Guard: “We’ll put in a rotating beer list; I’ll try to keep two to three local beers on there. Also, we’ll have a rotating list of five or six wines, I’ll try to have a couple of wines — pinot noir, pinot gris — from within 50 miles of our front door.”

While this list may not seem like much compared to Portland, these places have a lot of character and are keeping beer culture alive in Oregon. There may be other wonderful places to grab a brew in Eugene but hey, I was only there for four days.

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