I have a friend who moved to Eugene, Oregon from Nebraska – by way of Southern California. She says the biggest change she’s noticed in herself is the taste she’s developed for micro brews and her intolerance for any beers she can see through. Eugene has its share of quaint and bustling brew pubs – cozy establishments where you can meet some friends for burgers and a plate of nachos and sample some delicious locally-brewed suds on tap.
One of the better known brew pubs in Eugene is Steelhead Brewing Company (www.steelheadbrewery.com) at 199 E. 5th Street – across from the 5th Street Market. Featuring fresh beer bubbling away in large shiny tanks you can see from the restaurant, Steelhead serves up award winning micro brews with a full menu. There is a good-size bar serving “spirits” as well. Seating is both indoors and a covered outdoor area – complete with heaters during cooler weather. This is a restaurant taken over on “game day” when the Oregon Ducks are playing, but a fine place to meet for the business lunch or the cool pint after work.
For a funkier experience – and not exactly a brew pub, but a Eugene restaurant with a fine changing selection of Northwest micro brews on tap – try the Cornucopia at 295 West 17th. (eugenecatering.com/cornucopia-menus.html) This is an eating establishment tucked into a neighborhood in what used to be a corner market and it has a cozy neighborhood feel to it. Extremely casual, don’t expect stellar service and do expect to shoulder your way up to the tiny bar to request a refill on your pint, but it is a great place to while away a rainy afternoon sipping good beer. The menu features lunch and dinner and there are daily specials scrawled on a signboard at the curb. Seating is both indoors and an outdoor garden enclosure where there is the occasional live musical performance.
Located in an old craftsman-style house with lots of dark wood and a porch/garden seating area, the High Street Brewery and Café is a McMenamin’s Restaurant (http://www.mcmenamins.com/index/php?loc=19) centrally located between the University of Oregon and downtown Eugene. The address is 1243 High Street and there is both street parking and parking in back of the establishment. The High Street Brewery boasts a menu with weekly food specials and adequately tasty “pub food,” but it is the original micro brews that make it worth the trip. A customer favorite is the cool “Ruby” ale, made from fresh, masticated raspberries. This pub collects an eclectic crowd of students and regulars and is extremely casual.
One of the newer pubs on the block (although it has been operating under various proprietors/names for the past decade or so) is the Rogue River Brewing Company, also known by its former name: Eugene City Brewing at 844 Olive Street. This brew pub is right downtown and within walking distance of the Hult Center, public library and other downtown activities. With 34 taps, this restaurant has a real Northwest feel to it and promotes a real micro-brew culture. There is a full menu and information about this and other Rogue ale houses is available at www.rogue.com/locations.eugene.html.
Finally, although also not an official brewing house, a new establishment that’s getting some good press is the Beer Stein Bottleshop & Pub (http://www.oregonbeer.org/retail.html) located at 345 E. 11th in what used to be a fresh pasta shop. With a few tables and a limited menu of grilled sandwiches and appetizer plates, this is truly the place to come for the beer. There is an extensive bottle collection (bottles of beer from all over the world) and rotating beers available on tap. This place can get pretty busy and there is a discount for purchasing bottles to take home. But, if you’re in the mood to sample and experience a pub vibe with other beer-lovers, this is a good place to go.
If you’re new to Eugene or an old native, you have no excuse – get out and enjoy some of the flavors of our local brew pubs!