With a quick turnaround and concentration of planning and execution, Gratitude Brewing opened to the public on December 16, 2019. A bit of demo and reconstruction in the restaurant, plus rearranging and blinging out the simple brewhouse were the brute force tasks, but founders Tristan Cooley and Josh Cosci (head brewer) nailed down an experienced staff for the kitchen and bar, which will have a more lasting impact on patrons’ memories.
Gratitude’s beers are good already. Anymore in the 21st century, we should be experiencing this more often as the industry workforce grows; I would like to say, “gone are the days when we walk into a new brewery already cringing,” but that’s wishful thinking. Cosci’s got ten years’ brewery time logged, and his beers are bright and exciting (or warm and fuzzy, as appropriate to style), brimming with hip flavors. My only kvetch was that they were nearly all the same color, albeit my favorite beer color.
Check out the small plates menu below. When Cooley first wrote to me that the food would be “elevated pub grub,” he hadn’t hired chef Raymond Garcia. Garcia’s experience opening a handful of restaurants around California makes him seem overqualified to work in a brewery, but his work offers a lot to both the business and the beer. Without a deep fryer, there are certain items that may be expected at a brewery that just won’t be there, but one is apt to forget that when presented with the menu.
Upon my visit, a chilly Monday evening, some people hung around. At the bar (hand-polished by Cooley to an obsessive luster), I was treated to a flight of all seven beers, plus a sampling of the menu. This has literally never happened to me before, and I am forever a spoiled and grateful beer writer. I was going to order something anyway, but not this much. The bar staff was getting the beer conversation down, batting around flavors and making comparisons, all good practice for when nerds like me show up.
The food was nicely plated, and clearly offered a palette of flavors, chosen and combined by chef Garcia and his small crew. I was able to find, in this sudden smorgasbord, beer to match nearly every dish; major bonus. The super tender Foundry beef and accompaniment (I may have used my finger to sweep up the demi on that plate…) was well suited to the Keep it Hazy Eugene, with a great fat-acid balance. The Buffalo chips (Kettle chips tossed with Buffalo sauce and bleu cream; eat it quick!) was good with the Helles and Lovin’ It Out West IPA. The stuffed creminis would have been great with a pale or amber Belgian ale – I heard that may be in the works – but were fine with the Hummingbird Porter. There is also a selection of sandwiches and salads, as well as daily specials.
The beers were nearly all yellow, with the obvious exception of a chocolate porter. The hopped and tropical fruited kettle sour was not too acidic for my sensitive tongue, meaning I could probably have a second round. Keep it Hazy Eugene and Juicy Wally Wally were my top picks, though I’m sure that will change. The beer names are generally derived from the hip hop genre, although Daddy Said I Could Have Unicorns was first uttered by Cosci’s daughter, not relating to a beer.
The restaurant space has evolved a bit from Sam Bond’s Brewing, though the ambience was still a bit dark; the brewery closed for several days around Christmas to do some more work, and likely regroup after the nervous “I-just-opened-a-brewery” jitters.
Having followed Gratitude’s progress since the beginning, my confidence in the quality is high. The building is perfect for a brewery, though its location takes some getting used to; just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there! It is quite easily accessed on foot or bike, and driving there is best done (from Eugene) by hopping on Franklin for, like, a block and turning left on Ferry. One block north and voila! The address is 540 E. 8th Ave, and it’s open from 11-11 daily for now.