Brew Review – ColdFire Brewing – A Gem in Eugene!
Location: 263 Mill Street, Eugene, OR 97401
Date of Visit: Sunday, March 5, 2017
As noted elsewhere, we started off TJLDC Journey #2 (off to Arizona in search of Snowbird Properties) with a stop at our younger boy’s house in Eugene, Oregon to visit David, Janet, Olivia, and Carter Wichman. I’d asked David to suggest a local craft brewery for us to visit so I could mark off that particular check box for the State of Oregon. He suggested ColdFire Brewing so about Noon on Sunday, off we went. To paraphrase that great American Philosopher Will Rogers, while at ColdFire “…I never met a (brew) I didn’t like!” And we tried them ALL!
Celebrating their first anniversary, the facility is the standard converted small warehouse that’s common for craft breweries across the country.
(For a full sized image, please click: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147592278@N03/33151302981/in/album-72157680992813016/)
The brew vats are prominently displayed in the seating area and there are minimally separated family-friendly and adults-only sections. Seating is provided with a selection of wooden tables and chairs, stand-up wall counters, and elevated wall counters with stools. Although the place was packed with both adults and kids early on a Sunday afternoon and finding seating was a challenge – we had to wait for other customers to clear out – it was surprisingly easy for David and I to hold a conversation. Whatever they did with the noise absorption/abatement for the open overhead spaces common in these types of facilities worked very well. Very little obnoxious quacking even though the venue was loaded with Ducks. And it seems that David and Janet and the kids have drunk the Kool-Aid and become Ducks fans as well, so I avoided wearing Husky apparel as an expression of my innate sensitivity and concern for avoiding any micro-aggressions against whatever snowflakes might be present. And I also didn’t want to get beat up!
(For a full size image, please click: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147592278@N03/32436368904/in/album-72157680992813016/)
(For a full size image, please click: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147592278@N03/33279466885/in/album-72157680992813016/)
There is a designated play area for the kids, with a pretty eclectic selection of both kids and adult games and puzzles. It seems to be very effective because all the kids were pretty engaged in what they were doing, and there were none of the screaming monsters that can sometimes be encountered when you’re getting into nap times.
(For a full size image, please click: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147592278@N03/32896437540/in/album-72157680992813016/)
Food service was provided by the Haybaby Food Cart (https://www.facebook.com/haybabyfoodcart/) positioned out the back door of the Brew house. Haybaby has an outdoor seating area chained off for patrons, but hey (baby…) – it was the 5th of March in the Pacific Northwest! Even though it was sunny to partly cloudy that day, it was a little brisk to be sitting outdoors! The menu is simple and looked absolutely delicious! All home-made or locally sourced ingredients, with HUGE burgers, a couple of salad and sandwich options, and the obligatory french fries. We’d just finished lunch, so we didn’t eat except for an order of fries to go with the brew flights, but looking at their burgers I surely wish we’d have skipped lunch and eaten there instead! You walk outside to stand in line and submit your order, and each order is prepared from scratch individually. No large batches of fries here (recalling the snarky little brat from the early ’70’s and her “take that, McDonalds!) – each order is cooked individually and only when it’s ordered. And it is hand delivered to your table inside the Brew house by some magical process where the guy just seems to mysteriously appear with your hot-off-the-grill or -out-of-the-fryer order and remembers who ordered it! Mouthwatering pics of their fare are on their Facebook page.
The clientele appeared to be pretty representative of the local population – a mix of college-age and young white- and blue-collar types, with a few dinosaurs like me mixed in. The family friendly section included what appeared to be some 3-generational family groups and everyone was enjoying themselves.
On the day of our visit, ColdFire was serving 11 different brews. With 2 of us, David and I chose the divide and conquer strategy where we each ordered a 6-serving sample flight of generous pours. That allowed us to sample all of the different varieties offered, with one duplicate. We shared the offerings, so we were both able to sample the entire menu. And I’ll repeat myself from above (and this is NOT something I’ve been able to say about all the local craft breweries I’ve visited, by a loooooong shot!): While at ColdFire, “…I never met a (brew) I didn’t like!” They’re offerings included:
- Farmhouse Saison – A classic pale ale in the Belgian style, ABV 6.7%, IBU 38, and Plato 12.5. (Note: prior to visiting ColdFire, I had never seen reference to a Plato scale. Please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_measurement#Strength.)
- West IPA – A more heavily hopped pale ale, ABV 6.7%, IBU 68, Plato 13.5
- East IPA – A pleasantly hopped but heavier pale ale, ABV 6.6, IBU 60, Plato 15
- Belgian Dubble – A mild amber ale, ABV 7.6, IBU 28, Plato 16.5
- The Bier Stein Collaboration Double IPA – Pale ale with a kick, ABV 9.1, IBU 80, Plato 20
- Amarillo Sky Pale Ale – Classic American style pale ale – ABV 5.6, IBU 37, Plato 13
- Little Rebellion Brown Ale – A nutty brown ale, ABV 5.5%, IBU 28, Plato 14
- Czech Pilsner – A pleasant Pils (recalling my entire Deutsch vocabulary: “Ein grosse Pils, bitte!”), ABV 5.6, IBU 40, Plato 12.5
- Saint James India Red Ale – a hoppy dark amber ale, ABV 6.1, IBU 60, Plato 14.5
- American Stout – a dark, heavy ale, ABV 6.5, IBU 65, Plato not listed
- La Leche Double Milk Stout – another dark, heavy ale, ABV 7.5, IBU 55, Plato 20
(For a full size image, please click: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147592278@N03/32896431110/in/album-72157680992813016/)
- Farmhouse Saison – Opens with a mellow, buttery flavor, very mildly bitter as the IBU would indicate. This is a thoroughly pleasant offering, light colored and mildly cloudy.
- West IPA – A light-colored pale ale, nicely hopped with a pleasant after-taste that rises on the tongue. Subtle overtones of honey without being sickly sweet.
- East IPA – A pleasingly sharp, mildly hoppy ale with cloudy blonde coloration. The flavor stays the course, fading slowly through to a mild, pleasant after-taste.
- Belgian Dubble – An amber-colored ale with a sweet, malty and mild flavor – of all the offerings, this one’s probably the most forgettable, but good nonetheless. Dunno whether the forgetfulness results from the lack of clear definition or the high ABV. I’ll have another, beer tender, ’til I can get this thing figured out!
- The Bier Stein Collaboration Double IPA – That’s a mouthful – even for a sip! And it’s also (tongue in cheek) their sobriety test for this 9.1 ABV confection: They make you say the name in full before they’ll give you a refill! With a bit heavier flavor than their East and West IPA offerings, it has a pale amber coloration. Nicely hopped with hints of citrus, great taste masks the high ABV. They can add “Sneaky” to the name – as in “The Bier Stein Collaboration Sneaky Double IPA.”
- Amarillo Sky Pale Ale – With the classic pale ale coloration, this brew comes across with a firm but not dominating flavor, tailing off to a slightly bitter after-taste.
- Little Rebellion Brown Ale – Surprisingly light weight and impact for a brown ale. Very smooth flavor, with a hint of roast pecan. A wholly agreeable offering!
- Czech Pilsner – With a light, golden color, this is the lightest of their offerings. This Pils has a subtle flavor that avoids tastelessness. There is a slight bite in front that slowly disappears to almost no after-taste at all.
- Saint James India Red Ale – This outstanding brew offers a beautiful red-amber coloration that prepares you for its smooth – no, make that smmmooooth! – beginning, with just a nip – no real bite – in the middle, and into a gently fading aftertaste with just a hint of sweetness. Very nice!
- American Stout – This dark ale offers a pleasant nutty opening, coalescing into a friendly, long-lasting and slowly fading after-taste. Yet another success!
- La Leche Double Milk Stout – Sweet! Both in terms of the slang for a positive quality rating, and in terms of the hints of honey that complement the slight hoppy nip. Weighty without being overly heavy, this is yet another very nice brew!
Little Dickey Carroll’s Stack Ranking:
With 11 samples to work from, I’d have needed a lot more time to develop a reasonably accurate ranking, and the ingestion of the samples would have invalidated the results in any case! Sounds like particle physics… Basically, there were none of them I didn’t like. Bottom of the line would have been the Belgian Dubble, and the Pils would probably have been ranked lower as well – only as a matter of personal preference, not because of quality for sure!! Up top would have been the Red and the IPA offerings. The darker ales were really good as well. As I said earlier, while at ColdFire, I never met a brew I didn’t like!
ColdFire Brewing Says:
Actually, they don’t say anything about their brews other than what is posted on their menu board. You can check on their current events on their Facebook page, though, at https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=coldfire%20brewing%20company.
As always: May you never stop learning, and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!