A few weekends ago we headed out for dinner--1 hour and 45 minutes away. It was a crazy trip to take late Sunday afternoon with a toddler, but it was the last day of the Hop Harvest at Agrarian Ales outside Eugene, and we didn't want to miss it!
Agrarian Ales is a farmhouse brewery growing their own hops and a variety of brewing herbs. It started in 1985 as Crossroads Farm, an organic vegetable farm, and transitioned to hops when the family's boys moved back home 8 years ago and took over. It's a beautiful area chock-full of community, good food, and fun. Open year-round, the small kitchen serves true farm-to-table fare that rotates through the seasons. We ordered delicious pizza out of their hand-built wood fired cobb oven, with a few cheese-and-pickle plates to start.
The beer list is a rotating seasonal selection of Belgian-influenced styles like the Hopfenweizen ("a hoppy Hefeweizen"), the dark wheat beer Uncle Dunkel, a German style called Altbier, and several saisons. We tried a few but beware--many are 9% or more! One glass went by us with a thick head of red foam--raspberry? cherry? Nope, beets. The farm grows all the hops they use, over 15 varieties. Every year they host a community-driven Hop Harvest, when everyone is invited to help pluck fresh hop cones from the bines they grow on. Each tray of picked hops can be turned in for a ticket, which is then redeemable for food and drinks, folks also get access to special "Pluckers Taps." Sadly, we waited too long to check it out, and by the last day of the last weekend of the harvest all the hops were already plucked. Next year!
The tasting room and kitchen is a 4-acre outdoor (some of it is covered) area that's great for kids. You can find playground equipment, lawn games, picnic tables, a sand pit, and strings of twinkle lights that come on as dusk approaches. When we were there a gentleman was making giant bubbles, imploring the kids to stay back: "Bubbles are shy, you know. You need to give them space. Let it be free!"
We stayed to close the place down, just after dark. Next time, we'll plan on coming earlier for more time to hang out and harvest some hops!
If You Go:
Agrarian Ales' Tasting Room is open Friday 3-8pm, and Sat-Sun 12-8pm. You can also find them at the Lane County Farmers' Market Saturdays 9-3pm.