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Taste testing at three local breweries in search of the best

The Eugene area is a great place for beer aficionados, with local breweries like Ninkasi, Oakshire, Hop Valley (technically in Springfield), Steelhead and McMenamins.@@names [email protected]@ Emerald reporter and sophisticated man Alando Ballantyne, photo editor Alex McDougall and I went on the hunt to discover the best that Eugene breweries have to offer, which included trying four samples at three of our local breweries: Oakshire, Hop Valley and Ninkasi. We tried IPAs, ambers/reds, stouts and a special brew at each.

Oakshire Brewing, located at 1055 Madera [email protected]@

This was our first stop. We got a flight of four samples: Watershed IPA, Oakshire Amber, Overcast Espresso Stout and the seasonal O’Dark:30,@@all names [email protected]@ a Cascadian dark ale. It’s important to know that the three of us have very different tastes in beer, and rarely did we agree on a favorite. Mine and Alando’s favorite was the stout; the espresso flavor is strong and rich but not overpowering. Obviously, it’s not one to chug one after another at a party; it’s meant to be savored.@@that is what beer is [email protected]@ Alex’s favorite was the O’Dark:30, which Alando rated as his second favorite. The general consensus was that the IPA was good and easy to drink. The amber was also good, but left some of us wanting a bit more flavor.

Hop Valley, located at 980 Kruse Way in [email protected]@

Here we tried Alpha Centauri IPA, Natty Red, Mr. Black stout and Vanilla Porter. Alex and I preferred the Vanilla Porter;@@names checked but mr. black stout doesn’t come up. [email protected]@ like the Oakshire Espresso Stout, this porter’s flavor was rich and tasty but not overpowering. The Vanilla Porter was one of my favorites of all the beers we tried here. Alando preferred Hop Valley’s red and IPA to Oakshire’s but said the stout at Oakshire was better. I agree with him, especially regarding the stout. Mr. Black did not have nearly enough flavor, with Alando remarking that it “tastes like water.” To me, it seemed a little flat.

Ninkasi Brewing Company, located at 272 Van Buren [email protected]@

Our four samples here were the Total Domination IPA, Believer Double Red Ale, Oatis Oatmeal Stout and the seasonal Renewale porter.@@names [email protected]@ Although the IPAs at the other two breweries were easier to drink, to me, the Ninkasi Total Domination IPA had the most flavor. Despite this, it wasn’t my favorite Ninkasi beer; that honor belongs to the Oatis. While Alex also marked the Oatis as his favorite, Alando said, as far as stouts were concerned, his favorite was a tie between the Oatis and Oakshire’s Overcast. He also liked the Hop Valley red more than Ninkasi’s.@@argh!!!! i am so [email protected]@ The Renewale was good, but nobody’s favorite.

So which beer or brewery is the best? Short answer: None of them.@@sux to be them, [email protected]@ Each offers something different, and since we all have different tastes, our favorites might be your least favorites.@@no, kelly! [email protected]@ The great thing about Eugene is the opportunity it gives us beer lovers. There are so@@i’d say ‘too’@@ many different beers to try, so do your own taste test. Check out the breweries for samples, pints and good food, or you can buy a variety of beers at 16 Tons.@@ Just remember to taste test responsibly and don’t drink and drive.

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