By Matt Scotton
The Whiteaker neighborhood is chalked full of breweries, but not everyone loves beer the second they try it. Nevertheless it seems as if everyone has an opinion and wants to help you as you try them all.
EUGENE, Ore. — It’s a beautiful Eugene day and the sun is out in full force. Everyone seems to be outside soaking up the rays. The residential area of the Whiteaker neighborhood to the left is juxtaposed with Hop Valley Brewery. It stands in between two pretty bland buildings, so the splash of green like the inside of an avocado really pops to the naked eye. The rest of the building is dark wood paneling that lay horizontally with varying shades of brown. A man and his son sit out front discussing the Major League Baseball draft, which was currently taking place.
While many people are enjoying cold beers, not everyone is ready to jump right in and drink the many different kinds of craft beers. However the Tasting Room Manager at Hop Valley, Holly Emery-Wallen, does not always think that is the case. When a customer comes in who has never tried craft beer before, Emery-Wallen says that it is important to follow up and find out what they like to drink. She says that “the great thing about beer is there is an infinite amount of styles.”
People often times come in with misconceptions like that all IPAs are the same, but that’s not the case. “People are often times surprised by themselves,” says Emery-Wallen. “I kinda just let them taste it and let the pallet decide without all of the extra information.”
Another option for people as they gain more experience drinking beer is to create the perfect brew for themselves as part of the art of homebrewing. “The hobby of home brewing has really exploded in the last ten years,” says Homebrewers Association member Denny Conn. “The American Homebrewers Association has gone from a membership of you know maybe 6,000 people up to nearly 40,000 people now in the last nine years.”
One option for people who are interested in homebrewing is joining a local Homebrewers Association affiliate. It is an organization where a community can get together and help each other through the learning experience and teach newcomers everything they need to know.
The trick with brewing your own beer is not to get discouraged if the first couple of batches do not turn out as well as you would have hoped. “Practice makes perfect,” says Oakshire Brewing Co. Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk. “Keep making beer to get better. I got lucky and only made about a dozen beers prior to getting a pro job, so I don’t have a lot of homebrewing experience, but the more you brew, read, and learn, the better your beers will be.”
College towns like Eugene get a giant boost in population during the school year due to all of the students flocking into town for school. And many businesses realize and capitalize on the fact that students like alcohol. This can be seen in the fact of the number of how many bars there are right next to campus. This should not be taken lightly as the number one rule in owning a business is location, location, location.
Granted this alone does not solidify that students drink beer because bars serve so many types of drinks that are not beer. However, this year the Erb Memorial Union started a “Pub Night” so that students and faculty would have a place to drink beer and wine on campus.
The EMU Director of Food Services Allen Faigin says that simply having a spot to drink on campus was not the end goal. “We were looking for a spot to present responsible alcohol consumption to students,” says Faigin. “We wanted it to be for all ages.” Faigin says that they wanted to show that you did not have to get drunk to enjoy beer.
The ultimate goal of turning The Buzz into a pub style venue is starting to come to fruition. This way it is a place where someone came come and have a beer while his or her friend has a soda. They did not want to make it a restrictive area, but an inclusive one where everyone is welcome and Fargin could not be happier with the results so far.
However there are still a number of students who do not like beer for many reasons. A junior at the University of Oregon, Kellie Welsh, is not a huge fan herself. The first beer she ever tried Budweiser and she was just never a huge fan. “I think that the taste is a little bitter; there is always an after taste,” says Welsh. “I think for your money you can get a better drink.” Welsh prefers harder liquors such as Fireball Whiskey as opposed to beer.
Love it or hate it everyone has an opinion on beer. University of Oregon student and local minister Matt Allhands, who considers himself somewhat of a beer connoisseur, has a piece of advice for everyone trying to find their way through the topsy turvy world of beer. “Own what you like,” says Allhands. “If you want to drink PBR or Bud Lime, do it and don’t listen to snobby nonsense. Although you should be willing to try new things and expand your horizons.”
Holly Emery-Wallen Profile
It may be a hot day outside, but it is nice and cool inside Hop Valley Brewery. Holly Emery-Wallen proudly wears the avocado green shirt, predominantly displaying the Hop Valley logo. Running from hanging up signs she runs behind the counter. “Is this your first time here?” The pair of ladies she was speaking with replied with a chuckle and a “No.”
After growing up in Corvallis she decided to attend the University of Oregon for her higher education. After graduation she got involved in the craft beer industry in Portland. She worked at Belmont Station for six years. A little over a year ago a position opened up at Hop Valley and Emery-Wallen could not wait to return to Eugene.
“The great thing about the craft beer industry is that everyone is so darn nice” says Emery-Wallen. She has spent so many years working in the craft beer industry because “it’s really a reciprocal community where people look out for each other.” However, hands down the best part for her is the beer. Her favorite is Hop Valley’s Blonde Ale. “I could probably drink that all day” she say.
It is great for her to see all the creative people who work in the craft beer industry. People are making all sorts of interesting, creative and different beers and Emery-Wallen is happy to be apart of it. “We get to share the excitement with the general public all of the time” and she would not have it any other way.
Matt Allhands Q&A
Matt Allhands is a 30 year old campus minister in Eugene who is majoring in Medieval Studies, and hoping to move on to a Master’s in Divinity (maybe PhD work in Biblical Narratology).
When did you first try beer, tell me about it. What was it?
I first tried beer when I was about 10. My dad caught my brother and I sneaking some of his Hamm’s and made us finish off the cans…it really sucked. I first tried micro brew when I was 15 or 16 (my dad’s attempt to spoil my brother and I with good beer so we wouldn’t get wasted at high school parties).
What is your favorite beer? Why that one?
I have several favorite beers. Ninkasi Believer, Full Sail’s Amber and Session Lager. Celebrator Doppelbock. Chimay Premium. North Coast: Red Seal, Old ’38, actually..pretty much everything made by North Coast, and Mendocino County Brewing Company (must be a hometown brewery bias). I like them all for different reasons. I also dig just about any Munich/Oktoberfest style Lager As far as places are concerned I really dig.
Is there any beer you don’t like?
I’m not a big fan of super hoppy IPA’s and sour beers (saisons, flanders reds and so on). Although there are some that I do like.
Where is your favorite place to have a drink? Why?
The Cannery, First National Taphouse, and (although to a lesser extent due to the ambiance) The Bier Stein. I’m all about tap handle variety and the environment. I feel like walking into a good pub should feel like putting on an old pair of sneakers…worn, comfortable, and perfectly molded to you.
What is some advice you have for people who are new to drinking beer?
My key piece of advice is this: own what you like. If you want to drink PBR or Bud Lime, do it and don’t listen to snobby nonsense. Although you should be willing to try new things and expand your horizons.