Finding myself with a free Saturday and wanting to get out of town, I decided to venture down to Eugene, Oregon to cross off a few more breweries from my list. The first place I stopped at was Viking Braggot Company, a brewery that specializes in a truly unique method of brewing. The style of braggot dates back at least to medieval times, if not further, and is a fusion of beer and mead, often with other herbs and spices thrown in. Done right it combines the best of both styles and creates a wonderful flavor profile, full of subtleties and nuances. Founded in 2013, Viking has been experimenting with this style and growing their offerings to include their main brewery and a secondary location on the southside of town. This review will focus on the brewery, so grab a braggot, ship your oars, and set sail with me on this brewing adventure.
- Beer – To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect before coming here. I had heard of braggot before, though I’ve never tasted it. I’m not a huge fan of mead, though I’ve warmed up to it more recently. Because of my trepidation I decided on a flight so I could both sample a wider array and not be stuck with something I didn’t like for a full pint. After my first sip I realized my earlier hesitation was unfounded. I was quite surprised at how smooth drinking their beers are. The combination of beer and mead mellows out the harsher aspects of each while bringing the subtle differences to the forefront. Each sip you will taste the flavors of the malt and hops but it is balanced by a slight sweetness from the mead. Having not had braggot before I cannot say for certain how true to form it is, but I can say I enjoyed their version of it. Along with well-crafted beer they have an excellent and varied tap list for all tastes, and of course all their offerings stick with a Norse theme for the name. Score: 4/5
- Brewery – Non-descript from the outside, the interior shows an attention to customer satisfaction and retention that I was not expecting. As you enter the brewery you traverse a spacious outdoor area with loads of seating for those sunny Oregon summers. Stepping through the door brings you in to the taproom and right to the bar, with a nice view on to the brew floor and one of the most intricate chalk drawings I have ever seen (see the picture below). The taproom itself is spacious, with plenty of tables and chairs scattered around the inside as well as the lengthy bar where you can pull up a seat. They offer a limited menu of pretzels and pizzas made on site, and hopefully they will continue to add to this in time as their hours encompass at least lunch and dinner most days and there is not much else around. Overall, Viking feels like a working brewery that happens to also have a tap room, giving it that authentic vibe that I love. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Release parties! Trivia! Bingo! Painting! All events that you can partake in at Viking Braggot, along with watching all the local sporting events, charity fundraisers, and live music. They even offer a more unique entertainment option called Ideas on Tap, a monthly pub talk featuring a speaker from the local Natural History Museum (this happens at their other location on the south side of town, but I still thought it was a neat idea). I love the variety of events and entertainment value they offer and could see this place being a regular for me if I lived in town. Score: 4/5
- Location – I’ll start off by saying don’t trust your GPS to bring you to the right spot. I ended up around the corner and had to walk around this business park for a few minutes before I found them. They are a bit hard to find without much visible signage from a distance and all the buildings looking similar. Look for all the cars parked out front, that will guide you in. There is not much else around if you are looking for other forms of entertainment or food, but the beer and brewery are strong enough draws to make that mostly irrelevant. Score: 2.5/5
- Customer Service – When I first arrived I was the only patron there so my service was excellent and expedient, with the bartender making some excellent suggests for a braggot novice such as myself! As it continued to fill up that quality did not diminish, and all refills and closing out my tab went smoothly and quickly. My only concern would be when they get busier as there was only one bartender. Hopefully they have more staff to help or I can foresee much longer waits. Score: 3.5/5
Total Score: 17.5/25
Favorite Beer: Winter Squash Porter – 8.4% Braggot
Final Thoughts: It only took one sip to sell me on braggot, and on Viking Braggot Company. I highly recommend making this a stop if you are passing through Eugene, and a regular in your rotation if you live here. Easily in my top 5 breweries in Eugene, I look forward to going back and trying more of their offerings.