Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day Trippin': A Slightly Longer Excursion to Eugene

Continuing on our day trip/explore more of Oregon plans we decided to head south to Eugene at the end of April. While Eugene isn't so far that it couldn't be a day trip (for most people) we know us and we know that by the end of a day of exploring beer places the last thing we'd feel like doing would be getting in the car to drive back to Portland. Instead we made the decision that we'd get a room in town and take the trip at our own pace.

Our first stop, which I hooked Mag with by relaying the message on their menu that they served brunch until 3:00 pm on the weekends, was Plank Town Brewing (technically in Springfield). We arrived around 1:30 pm, easily finding them based on one of the exterior pictures from their website, and the place was hopping. We could have found a seat at a table by we went with our standard game plan and bellied up to seats at the bar. Addressing the most important question first we perused the beer list, about 15 offerings, starting off with their ESB and A Streetcar Named Stout, great beers to start the day with.

As I mentioned, the place was pretty busy and with nothing to buffer the sound, the noise level was pretty high. Generally that would be a mark against them but since it is a family-friendly establishment the din covered up any child noises. What turned out to be a big mark against them was the fact that it took 45 minutes for our order (a hot sandwich and an omelet) and the food was so-so at best. Yes, the place was pretty full but on a Saturday afternoon the kitchen should be better staffed to handle it. Moral of the story - go for the beer and find somewhere else to eat.

Shoving off we steered toward Claim 52 Brewing located in a light industrial area. The space is nice, with two roll up garage doors, but the day (cool and rainy) was less than conducive to having the doors wide open. Nonetheless we tried their beers (none of which happened to be their most highly rated ones). In general they all had a Belgian twist, which many of you know isn't exactly my favorite. After a beer a piece we shoved off, checked into the hotel we booked, left the car there and headed out on foot to Elk Horn Brewery.

Prior to Googling "Eugene breweries" I'd never heard of Elk Horn Brewery and as we walked down what appeared to be Sorority Row, I wasn't expecting much. Oh, how wrong I was! Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, check out a shot of their interior.

In addition to a creative, split level house feel they had an extensive tap list including plenty of their own beers. Both the IPA 3 and the Samoa Stout I had were great and all of the food I saw come out looked like something I'd definitely want to eat, a notion I seriously entertained as a way to erase the memory of the food we'd had at Plank Town. But I resisted and with thoughts about potentially returning later in the night we moved on to our fourth stop, Falling Sky Brewing House.

I'd been to Falling Sky before, which is located in an alley, really, its address is 1334 Oak Alley, but was looking forward to returning. Their beer offerings included 15 pushed selections as well as cask. Coming off the Samoa Stout at Elk Horn I ordered up the Hard Rain American Stout on cask and found it to be outstanding. At this point we were getting the time of the day where we could use a little beer break so we circled back to a place we'd seen on our way to Falling Sky, Level Up Arcade.

Like Ground Kontrol in Portland, Level Up has plenty of old school arcade games (Pac Man, Centipede, etc) and pinball machines. The bonus was that here the games were just $.25/play (at least the ones I played). After blowing a load of quarters each we headed out to Bier Stein.

I had been to Bier Stein in its previous location and been impressed by both their bottle selection and tap list. Coming up to the new location it was clearly much larger and being a Saturday night, looked pretty busy. Sure enough, when we got around to the door there was a substantial line for beer (bar ordering only) and that was not something we were down for. Turning around we decided some grub would be good and found a Killer Burger near our hotel for a quiet end to our night.

The next morning it wasn't beer we were thinking of but breakfast before making our way back to Portland. That proved to be a taller order than we were expecting and after a few failed attempts (one place too busy, other places closed) we found a sports bar that was just opening their doors. Sixth Street Grill is just across the street from the Hilton where we first tried to get a room.

Our server, who was also playing host until reinforcements showed up, was cheery in that genuine way that was endearing, not the annoying, just shut up and get me coffee kind of way. Coffees came quickly and although the server situation might have been a bit short handed, clearly the kitchen was firing on all cylinders. Our food arrived promptly and I dove into my Firehouse Scramble - eggs with bacon, pepper jack and loaded with pickled jalapenos - while Mag made equally short work of his omelet, a far superior product than the one he'd had the day before. Bellies satisfied we hit the road home, chalking up another successful weekend outing.

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