Taproom & Brewery: 1030 Tyinn St, Eugene, OR 97402 / Claim 52 Kitchen: 1203 Willamette St #140, Eugene, OR 97401
Claim 52 has undergone the most radical stylistic changes of any brewery in town. Trevor Ross started the brewery after years of making lots of beer for himself and his friends. He was a fixture at Valley Vintner & Brewer, the homebrew shop that grew into Falling Sky, and started Claim 52 as a nano brewery (the first in West Eugene) in 2012. Oddly, he chose to buy three identical 1-barrel homebrew systems from Synergy Metalworking and run them in tandem, which proved to be a major *spoiler alert* pain in the ass.
However, he was also the first brewery in town to brew Kolsch, right on the cusp of the style’s popularity in Oregon. He hired Joe Buppert, a homebrewer who had cut his chops with the Brew of O, a short-lived homebrew club comprised of UO students (many of whom went on to the beer world). Together, they brewed many unique Belgian-style beers and were playing with barrels and brettanomyces. Ross brewed up Olivia 9, a fantastic Belgian dark strong with cocoa, bottle conditioned with brettanomyces. It aged well even after he left the brewery.
It’s odd to hear of a founder leaving his brewery, especially a small one. Early on, he’d sold a majority share of the business to Mercy McDonald. As time went by, the business end of the brewery diverged from Ross’s vision, and he left/was pushed out in 2016.
Buppert had left, and so assistant brewer Bryce Fisher took over. Prior to Trevor’s exit, a beer called Fluffy had made waves in Eugene as an early-adopter of the hazy IPA. Fisher took Fluffy and ran, almost immediately converting Claim’s stock to a rotating cast of hazy/smoothie/etc. IPA. Claim had opened a satellite taproom in the SPROUT building in Eugene called The Abbey. It had served Trevor and Joe’s Belgian beers in a very fitting atmosphere; the shift in beer did not match the location, but definitely increased its popularity.
In the past two years, Claim has been the leader in hazy IPA production in Eugene, taking cues from Great Notion with absurd manipulations of the malt beverage. They continue to make the Kolsch, Westside IPA, and Admiral of the Red, though the Kolsch isn’t as good as it was. It also got a proper brewhouse, which was a good idea.
In 2018, almost simultaneously, Claim opened Claim 52 Kitchen on Willamette St. and closed The Abbey in Springfield (the decisions were not coincidental; The Abbey closed because the owners of Tap & Growler/Beergarden took over the master lease to create Publichouse.). The Kitchen has a full menu and is the most modern-styled brewery restaurant in Eugene.