Someone recently clued me in to the Eugene Ale Trail, a fun game where you collect stamps from all of Eugene, Oregon’s breweries and earn prizes as you go. As if I needed further encouragement, I decided to spend one afternoon getting started on this fun quest. I started my journey at Claim 52 Brewing on the west side of Eugene. Pulling in to the parking area I had flashes of nostalgia as its location reminded me heavily of Swamphead’s original brewery back in my undergrad days. Read on to see if it lived up to those expectations.
- Beer – Hops. Hops everywhere. The current tap list has 5 variations on an IPA, one milk stout, a farmhouse ale, and a saison (fresh hopped of course). I sound like a broken record at this point but as usual, they lose points for the lack of variety. I get that flavors and preferences vary from brewer to brewer, however brewing beer is about showing off your skills over a wide range of styles and pushing out of your comfort zone. Not to mention having offerings for folks who do not enjoy hop-heavy brews. That being said, the IPAs were tasty, and the milk stout was a solid offering that I could definitely bring a growler of home with me. The brews are well done, I’d just like to see more being offered on tap. Score: 3/5
- Brewery – As mentioned earlier, this tap room reminded me of Swamphead’s early days. Located in a cordoned off section of the brew floor with a bar and handful of tables, you really get the feel that you are in a working brewery. Nothing flashy or fancy, with miss-matched tables and piles of kegs as the dividing line, it still works well and is a comfortable place to sit and relax with friends. Rolling up the large bay doors in the warmer months can give it more of an airy feel and compensate for the lack of outdoor seating. The beers are reasonably priced, there is a tv to watch sports on, and they have food trucks that show up from time to time. I would like to see better hours of operation though as 3-8pm Wednesday through Saturday does not give much time for people to visit after work. It was an all-around solid tap room but would be nice to have more of an outdoor area. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance – I do not want to be too harsh here since I visited at an odd time (3 pm on a Wednesday afternoon) and I was the only person there. It was quiet with some very interesting music playing: a medley of French, Italian, and Spanish language music that was enjoyable but oh so hipster. It still seemed cozy despite the lack of patrons and I’m certain things pick up more later in the evening. Score: 3.5/5
- Location – Wow this place was hard to find, even with my GPS. Tucked back into a warehouse complex, it is not visible from the street. I had to drive around for a few minutes before I could find it. Parking is ample however there is not much else close to the brewery if you are looking for food options save some fast food down the street. Better street level advertising and this score would be a bit higher. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – Well, I was the only person there, so I had plenty of one-on-one with the bar keep. Quick and friendly, happy to pour me drinks, I have nothing but good thoughts on this one. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 16.5/25
Final Thoughts: If you are looking for a variety of hop-heavy offerings, you should stop in at Claim 52. A little more variety and an easier to find location would probably bump them up in to the must-visit category however they are still worth a trip if you are in Eugene and need to get your ale-trail book stamped.