I spent a Saturday afternoon down in Eugene recently to check a few more breweries off my list, and my first stop led me to Sam Bonds Brewing. A music venue and bar since the mid-1990s in the Whiteaker district of Eugene, they started brewing their own beer in the historic foundry building about 5 years ago while staying true to their musical roots. So, grab a beer, sit back, and let me serenade you with this review from another craft brew spot in Eugene.
- Beer – With 11 taps, they offer a respectable amount of variety for such a small venue, with a line-up that features year-round and limited release offerings. You will not find much on the adventurous or experimental side here (i.e. sours, barrel aged, etc.), with the styles limited mostly to traditional beers such as IPAs, porters, wheat beers, and the like, though there was a Belgian style beer that I found delightful. That is not meant to be a knock against them, as the beers were well crafted and easy drinking, and I certainly enjoyed the ones I tried. Score: 3/5
- Brewery – Dark, cozy, and warm, at least on the rainy day I visited. The tap room is small, consisting of less than a dozen tables and a small bar along the back, with another half-dozen or so tables on the sidewalk outside for when the weather is nicer. The interior is decorated with a lot of refurbished parts from the turn of the century foundry that was the original inhabitant of the building, imparting a sense of age and history to the place. Their food menu is mostly lighter fare, such as paninis and pizza, and decently priced to boot. Their hours are a bit limited and they are closed Mondays, so be sure to take that in to account when planning your visit. Score: 3/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Sam Bonds started as a music venue, and it has stayed true to those roots even at this new tap room. They have an extensive live music schedule, both here and at their original location. Add in card and board games that can be played as well as lots of televisions for watching sporting events and there is bound to be something exciting to do while here. Be sure to ask about the history of the building and check out the picture book they have behind the bar that details its origins. It is a fascinating look back at an iconic Eugene location. Score: 4/5
- Location – Located at the edge of downtown Eugene, everything you could possibly want is within walking distance. Breweries, bars, restaurants, take your pick and you can find it. Heck, the river is a short walk away if you want to take a stroll after a few beers. Even the event center that often features great acts is only a 10-minute walk in to downtown. Being Eugene, it is bike and public transit friendly, and there is a respectable amount of street and lot parking available for those who drive. Score: 4/5
- Customer Service – Since it was slow, I sat at the bar and was able to learn a little more about the history of the building from the bar tender, who also made some good recommendations on beers to try. The service was fast and friendly, and all ordering appeared to be at the bar so no table service, though the food is brought to you once it is ready. Score: 3/5
Total Score: 17/25
Favorite Beer: Java Porter – 6.7% Porter
Final Thoughts: Another solid entry in Eugene’s craft beer scene, and one I would frequent if I lived here for the live music. The beers are solid if not flashy while the tap room feels snug and cozy, and with the rest of Eugene within walking distance Sam Bonds is worth a visit if you are in town for any reason.