“It’s going to seem like we aren’t going anywhere,” my friend told me Saturday night as we drove further and further into the industrial west side of Eugene. “But we are, I promise. I swear I’m not going to murder you.”
I wasn’t convinced. We passed warehouses belonging to various lumber mills, saw companies, and excavating services. As far as I was concerned, Freddy Kruger could have been around each corner.
He told me to turn off into a parking lot and sure enough, around a corner, tucked away from the world a stenciled viking was spray painted on a door.
Enter Viking Braggot Company: Eugene’s newest alcohol establishment serving a new-to-the-commercial-industry beverage that is most easily described as part mead part beer. The BJCP states that the drink should have a honey flavor to it, but the style is open to interpretation and creativity of the brewer.
Viking was started by two University of Oregon business students, Daniel McTavish and Addison Stern, who I assume were working on a project in the craft beer industry. In their research, they saw what they thought to be proof that craft breweries could still open in a highly-competitive market in the form of braggot.
Rumor has it that these two built their business model and hired a couple of young brewers to head up the thing. So far, it seems to be catching on little-by-little.
The beer — ahem, I mean braggot — is a unique beverage. A light, varying aroma meets you. There is close to no head retention. The color ranges from a deep amber to a light pilsner-esque (I heard they also did a stout, which I would be very interested to try).
Here’s where they sort of lost me — the taste and feel of the beer is weak. Somebody who likes low-gravity beers would likely really enjoy this. I tried two of the braggots they offered on their rotating tap: a seasonal pumpkin ale-esque braggot and their Battle Axe (their flagship IPA-like offering).
The flavor on the pumpkin was subtle at best. The Battle Axe was actually not bad at all: hopped nose, sweet and lightly hopped taste, clean clean clean light finish.
And that is the danger with these guys. I took down both of these beers with ease, even though they sat at 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively. I wouldn’t say that I stumbled out of there, but if I drank until I was satisfied, I likely would have.
Also, unlike mead, I didn’t have a “sweetness headache” after drinking the braggot. So, +1 there.
The tasting room is actually their brewery with a couple of tap handles thrown in there. They added some pallet tables, old couches and park benches so you can enjoy whichever foodcart happens to be hanging outside. Stainless steel kettles, tuns, and fermenters dot the warehouse space. A TV is propped on the wall to make you feel like you’re not as isolated from the general population as you actually are. It’s a nice rustic feel that actually works quite well. And, something to keep in mind, they are only open to the public on Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10.
The head brewer (I assume), a younger guy, was interacting with customers and answering any questions they might have about the unique beverage. We called him over and said he was doing a nice job and asked what was next for them. So far, he says the community has helped support them thus far and it’s slowly catching on. If you’re up in Portland for the Holiday Ale fest, keep an eye out for them. The inside scoop told me they are going to be debuting a “turnip squash holiday braggot stout.” I have no idea what that will look like, but you bet I’m going to have my buddy grab me a growler of it.
My take: give them a shot. They aren’t bottling yet, so this only applies to people in the Eugene area. It’s a cool beverage that may be making its way into the market slowly as an alternative for people who don’t like those heavy, flavorful beers. Also, they are very much in the beginning stages of their work and only have more experimentation to go. I hope they are around for a couple of years so I can see what they come up with. Just make sure when you’re heading their way to type the address into your google maps — you’ll get lost amongst a weird part of town if you don’t.
Best of luck to the Viking Braggot Company. I’ll be stopping in when I’m in town.
Viking Braggot Company
520 Commercial St, Unit F
Eugene, OR 97402