A Visit to Brewers Union Local 180 in Oakridge
Confession: my wife’s birthday was crap. She was sick and it was a rough, rough week. So we made up for it with a really, really good Mother’s Day of hiking in the foothills of the Oregon Cascades, followed by a late lunch and a pint of English-style cask ale at the Brewers Union Local 180 in the wee town of Oakridge, about an hour’s drive southeast of Eugene. (The BUL is also part of the Eugene Ale Trail.)
Founder Ted Sobel learned the craft of cask ale from brewers in England. He brought it back Stateside and decided to set up shop in the downtown of Oakridge, a town once bustling with logging and now known more for mountain biking and outdoor recreation. It’s an unlikely spot for some unlikely beers, and we had a brilliant time.
Real ale is a natural product brewed using traditional ingredients and left to mature in the cask (container) from which it is served in the pub through a process called secondary fermentation. It is this process which makes real ale unique amongst beers and develops the wonderful tastes and aromas which processed beers can never provide.
In other words, instead of forced CO2 and a chilled keg, real ale is typically served between 50-55ºF, and the carbonation comes from continuing fermentation in the cask. The beers change over time, and are complex in flavor and aroma, while also smooth and fun to drink.
The BUL is very family-friendly, and is made with traditional view of a pub in mind: it’s a place for the public to gather and be together.
In addition to the regular pool table, there is also a kid-size one. Books and games are everywhere. Live music is common. There are LED lights and bright colors, and wood paneling and dark corners. If this place were near my house, it would be a second home.
We feasted on fish-n-chips, steak-n-chips, and pints of light rye mild and Young Harry Porter—quite possibly my new favorite beer name.
So, for a truly unique Oregon beer experience that hails from across the continent and across the pond to England itself, take any chance you can to get to the Brewers Union Local 180. And if I can’t be there, have a pint for me.