When Southtowne Lanes burned down in 2015, the Viking had nothing to do with it. As a major tenant in a new commercial building though, Eugene-based Viking Braggot Company is now celebrating the opening of their 3,000-square-foot taproom and restaurant where the bowling alley used to sit.
In the wake of the fire, a new owner decided to tear down the old structure and build an 11,800-square-foot commercial building. When the search for tenants began, Viking Braggot co-founder Dan McTavish and his team were realizing they needed to expand.
With a production brewery, tasting room and pizza cart in west Eugene, along with more than 400 barrels produced in 2017, Viking Braggot had been growing steadily since brewing its first 57 barrels in 2013. However, McTavish knew that in order for the public to keep learning about braggots — a not-as-well-known hybrid of mead and beer — Viking needed to establish a more centrally located presence.
Technically, braggot is part of the mead family. However, instead of being made only with fermented honey, braggots are a 50-50 mix of honey and malted barley and may also incorporate fruit, hops or other ingredients. Part of the appeal of braggot, explains McTavish, is the lack of hoppy bitterness, as braggots are typically hop-less.
“Even our IPA-style braggots have a huge amount of hops but aren’t over-the-top bitter.”
As with beers, braggot colors range from pale to dark, with rich honey aromas and textures. When braggots are hopped, they typically balance bitter and sweet. Instead of cloying sweetness, braggot brewers focus on developing a full-bodied smoothness with a touch of honey.
In January, Viking filed an Oregon Liquor Control Commission application for the Willamette Street location. Viking Braggot Company Southtowne adds 13 employees, bringing the total head count to 18. All production will continue at Viking’s brewery and tasting room at 520 Commercial St.
The key to the new space, says McTavish, is having a more accessible location where food can be developed that pairs well with braggots, and where Viking staff can educate the public about braggots.
Building off the success Viking Braggot has seen with their pizza cart at the tasting room, the menu will feature hand-tossed, thin-crust pizzas with dough that uses braggot in the recipe. “We will be offering some of the existing styles that people know and like from the brewery,” says McTavish, “along with additional chef specials, salads and appetizers.”
The new location will also be a spotlight for Viking Braggot new releases, such as a Pineapple IPA, which was made with regular additions of hand-chopped pineapple and tropical blossom honey.
“Summer events will be mainly centered around seasonal-release brews,” says McTavish.
Taking advantage of outside space, Viking Braggot Company Southtowne will seat around 24 on a patio and 80 inside. Fifteen taps are primarily devoted to Viking flagship braggots, seasonal releases and specialty offerings, with some guest handles pouring ciders and meads.
A soft opening was held in May. This Viking has arrived — and plans to stay. •