Big wooden barrels fashioned into a sort of Viking chandelier hang from the ceiling. Long community tables span the restaurant like a Viking’s dream mess hall. Tall windows that spread across two sides of the building let in whatever light is available on a typical Eugene day.
Viking Braggot Company is not only a brewery in Eugene, but also a love letter to their namesake, viking history and a hearty alcoholic brew. The brewery had its grand opening on Aug. 11 for its Southtowne location on Willamette Street, but has had a tap room on Commercial Street open since June 2013. Viking Braggot’s Southtowne Location serves pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads and snacks to go along with their house brewed braggot.
Braggot is a blend of both mead and beer. Mead is a wine made of honey that was too expensive a little over 1,000 years ago, so these Vikings decided to mix it with the cheaper beer. The braggot takes more of its notes from beer but still has subtle hints of local Oregon honey to sweeten the beverage. Viking Braggot offers many different iterations of their braggot — from the hoppier IPA to a traditional, more roasted, coffee-tasting beer.
Viking Braggot also offers a large selection of food at their Southtowne location. The best selection on the menu goes to the pizza options. Chefs at Viking Braggot use their braggot to add a little taste to the crust of their pies. They also offer their pizza at the Viking Braggot tasting room, which comes in the form of a food truck that they call Pillage Pizza. The menu features an eclectic collection of different pizza options like the Wessex — a pie that combines caramelized onions, big blobs of ricotta, sausage and arugula with a base of mozzarella and tomato sauce. The Norfolk pairs more traditional toppings with pepperoni, green pepper, onion and black olive.
The crust of the pizza is by far the highlight of the otherwise average menu. It remains chewy with a little crunch and comes through with some interesting sweet and hearty tastes from the braggot. However, the pizza begins to fall apart without the help of the tasty crust. The tomato sauce is lacking the tartness and sweetness that usually accompany a good pizza base. Without the strong tastes at the center of the pizza, the Wessex’s caramelized onions and ricotta also disappear, as they are traditionally weaker toppings. The Norfolk may be a better pairing for the delicious crust by covering the more mild tomato sauce with spicy pepperoni and a good helping of veggies.
The other main item on the menu is Viking Braggot’s burger. Their burgers come in a few forms: the pub burger, the bacon & swiss burger and the berserker burger. The bacon & swiss burger combines bacon and swiss, but also adds caramelized onions and tomato to round it out. The burger itself came out a little overdone with no pink visible in the middle and an overpowering taste of pepper and not much else. The bacon topping the burger was flimsy and rubbery and didn’t add great texture or taste. Still, the thick-cut steak fries on the side were worthy of snacking on.
Viking Braggot creates a cool atmosphere with a niche beer offering that captures the essence of Eugene’s eclectic beer scene. While the burger isn’t something to call home about, the pizza will do well with a brew. And, in an effort to encourage more students to stop by, the owners added some well-placed power outlets to make getting work done and drinking braggot a perfect afternoon.