ColdFire Brewing

263 Mill St, Eugene, OR 97401
Founded: 2016

Stephen and Dan Hughes, the founding brothers, came from the lab and financial sides of the medical industry, respectively. They worked very conservatively at the brewery project that would eventually be called ColdFire (rather than Hughes Brothers Brewing… good choice, no offense!). Over years, they brewed pilot batches at home, courted investors with private tastings, and developed a business plan that’s built to last without outgrowing its britches.

The 10-barrel brewery and taproom opened in early 2016, and was an immediate success. Stephen and Dan are introspective guys who think deeply about the beer, the business, and how they relate to their community. Both are family men who take that role seriously, but they can also be found drinking fine whiskey at Izakaya Meiji some late nights. It’s all about balance.

The first beers were fermented with kolsch yeast, and had the characteristic body and enduring haze that yeast gives; it was soon abandoned for yeasts that match their styles better. Currently, the brewery pumps out 20 barrels of Cumulus Tropicalis, a Northeast IPA with solid Northwest bitterness, every week. That’s become de rigueur, but Stephen’s passions lie in other places. The first two 500ml bottles of right tasty wood-aged wild beer were released in mid-2018, and signal the beginning of a strong program and the end of a brewer’s patience. A Czech Pils often graces the beer list, though it is far more German in execution with a solid pale gold color and firm bitterness with just a lick of pils malt sweetness. The Tanuki was a schwarzbier brewed for Izakaya Meiji, and actually got me to drink something other than a cocktail or straight whiskey there.

I’ve brewed with Stephen several times, and his manner on the brew deck is as measured as it is anywhere else. Everything is considered and prepared before the brew, and the conversation that creates a new recipe tends to follow through to the glass.