Last month, Claim 52 Brewing opened its third location. Adding to the brewery’s taproom in downtown Springfield and production brewery and tasting room in West Eugene, Claim 52 Kitchen gives downtown Eugene a new space for craft beer, fresh food and gathering.
“To be right in the heart of downtown Eugene with other cool businesses nearby, we just couldn’t pass up this fantastic opportunity,” says Claim 52 co-founder and co-owner Mercy McDonald. Co-owned by McDonald and Jeannine Parisi, the “community-scale brewery” focuses on beer innovation and serving the local area. The name Claim 52 is an homage to the donation land claim settled by pioneer William Luckey in what is now South Eugene and where the brewery’s first recipes were developed.
Claim 52 Kitchen’s 3,000-square-foot space on Willamette Street is part of a refurbished 1940s building. A stained wood front adds organic pop to downtown’s cement and pavement, and evokes Eugene’s timber history. A street-side covered patio seats 36, with seating for another 80 inside (plus roll-up doors for sunny days). There’s also a private room for events. The build combines “a clean, modern feel,” says McDonald, but they balanced the design “to stay true to the history.”
Most exciting for McDonald is expanding not only their tap selection, but adding consistent food in a central location. It’s a big evolution given that when the opportunity came in 2017, Claim 52 had recently wrapped up a brew system expansion and wasn’t looking for a new space.
“A good friend told us about this project he was doing in downtown and he said we should open a taproom there,” says McDonald. “The more we talked about it, the more it felt right.”
From behind the custom-built L-shaped granite and stainless steel bar, Claim 52 Kitchen has 24 taps (instead of the six available at the other locations). Wine, cider and kombucha pour alongside the brewery’s diverse range of beer. A crowler machine is also available for freshly poured beers to go.
Instead of the digital tap boards that have become popular in recent years, Claim 52 wanted to stay old school, says head brewer Bryce Fisher. “We made the tap list with a light box in the style of a theatre marquee board,” he explains. “The beers will be displayed as if they’re the features at a movie house.”
The Claim 52 team has spent months developing a lunch and dinner “fusion menu that celebrates Latin and Asian flavors at good price points,” says McDonald. “We like the idea of plate shares.”
All menu items are under $14. Standouts include Thai Chili Green Beans with lime and garlic ($6); three Beef Bulgogi Tacos with marinated beef sirloin and daikon-cilantro ($8); Garlic Yucca Tots with ancho chili cream ($11); and the Croque Norvegien sandwich with lox, cheese and a fried egg served on toasted brioche ($13.50).
Special events are not yet on the menu. “We’d like to get a sense of the space and what it wants to be,” explains McDonald. However, “you can count on weekly beer releases and probably bi-weekly can releases.”
Claim 52 also sees the Kitchen as a way to spotlight its innovative offerings. One tap will be devoted to a nitro beer, and the flagship Kolsch has a permanent handle. Other beers include Honey Bunches of Goats, a tart farmhouse ale brewed with honey, and Down with the Thiccness, a coffee and chocolate imperial stout. Among the multiple IPAs will be Bird Up, with strawberry and lactose; Fluffy, citrus-forward and hazy; and the “piney and dank” Westside.
“Everyone can try multiple beers,” explains Fisher. “Instead of just getting a big meal and a pint, you can have smaller plates and smaller size drinks and feel like you can just stay longer.”
McDonald sees opportunity and upside not only for the brewery, but for the neighborhood. “We can see a core group coming each week to downtown, and that block being alive, and us being a centerpiece at a stretch of Willamette Street that’s been more quiet,” she explains. “You can roll into downtown and have all these options. And we’ll be walking distance to campus. It’s an ideal location.” •