So Jeanette has decide Ninkasi is her favorite brewery and we need to do a brewery tour. So she organized a road trip to Eugene to tour the brewery and try out some other brew pubs while we were there. So I was initially not that excited about driving a hundred miles to tour another brewery not much different then the forty some I have already been to. Boy was I wrong. Ninkasi is the biggest brewery operation I have seen. And to find it in Eugene, even more of a surprise. We met up with Mike and Audrey at the Ninkasi tasting room at noon and soon began our tour. Another surprise was Matt our tour guide. First time I have had a brewery guide who was highly informed on all aspects of the brewery. Matt first took us through what had been their old brew house and still handles their smaller batch production. Then we walked across the street to the new brew house. The place is big and definitely on the regional scale if not larger. It was new and shiny and very automated. After being wowed by the tour we return to Ninkasi’s tasting room to try all of their beers. Out of ten beers Jeanette finally found a few she did not like. Which according to Matt was good as it meant they were still pushing the boundaries. From Ninkasis we head on to try some some other breweries in the area.
After a short walk we arrive at Hop Valley. Here we did another sample tray and had a little something to munch on. I was starting to see a trend here on the beer. The IPAs were fine but when it came to darker beers they just did not get it. So another short walk to Oakshire tasting room and another sample try. Again IPAs OK but as you move away from that not so good. Another short walk to our last brewpub Steelhead. This was the first brewpub to open in Eugene when a brewpub was a new idea. It was opening just as I was moving to Portland. This time we were ready for food and this place has a complete menu. The beer was old recipes and just so so but the food was good. So ended out Eugene visit. An land of IPA brewing but not a place for porters and stouts and other dark beers. Time for that long drive back to Portland.
For our tour of Ninkasi we met a their tasting room.
Looking through large glass window into tasting room.
Ninkasi has a large outside patio with fire pit.
So I thought this barley bin a Ninkasi was a pretty go size but I found out this was the old small one.
We headed past a fermentation tank in the old brew house
At Ninkasi’s old brew house they still keep records on a white board.
When they first moved in this area housed the entire brewery. It is now just storage.
Firmamenters and conditioner in the old Nankasi brew house now handle small batch production.
One of the brew tanks from the old brew house.
Palettes of bottles waiting to be filled.
Bottling line at Nankasi. It is old but still working.
Walking the ally to Nankasi’s new brew house. Over head pipes allow for beer to flow between buildings.
Ninkasi’s new headquarters building.
The new brewhouse is three stories tall and only two years old.
Matt our guide fills us in on the barley handling before entering the new brewhouse.
Twin three story high gain silos.
Bags of specialty malts.
Nankasi new brew house has a separate room just for the grains. These a really big bags of German malted barley.
Specialty malt hopper
Boxes of hop pellets inside a big walk in refrigerator. They can only use pellets in the new brewery
Ground floor and you find the bottoms of the kettles and Mash Tuns.
Bottom of the mash tun
Biggest Heat exchanger I have seen.
Brewing on the industrial scale.
Lots of tanks of all sizes.
Top side of kettles and mash tuns. Everything is run by computer – no white boards here.
Top floor and top of the tanks.
Mike looks into the window of one of the tanks The tanks have their own lighting systems.
They did add a bit of style where they could.
At forrest of legs hold up the three story tall fermenters.
Tunnel through fermenters and conditioners.
At least the clean up area was about the same size as most breweries.
When brewing on this scale when it comes time to barrel age you need a lot of barrels.
They still have a home brew system for trying new brews.
Audrey checks cell phone pictures standing by the CO2 tank.
Lots of nice metal work around the place.
After the tour we had to try all of their beers.
Hop Valley Pub
At Hop Valley we did a ten flight sample of beer and tots on the side.
Taps at Hop Valley
A modest size inside pub area.
They have a large patio area. Some how they did not get the memo that it rains for nine months of the year.
Hop Valley has gone the can rather than bottles.
Hop Valley was running an operation the size I thought Ninkasi would be. Someone is drinking a lot of Eugene beer.
You can see the grain silo and outside tanks.
Small sample try at Oakshire.
Bar area at Oakshire tasting room.
Beer hall style seating.
Steelhead is across the street from 5th street public Market. At the time they open the 5th Street was a hot spot in town.
Steelhead is a restaurant style place.
Behind the bar is the small brewery. When this place first open it was the hot spot in Eugene.
Audrey gets a picture of the brewery sign.