346 Main St., Springfield, or 97477
Main Street, Springfield. The heart of the 20th Century American Experience. Plank Town Brewing came along after that, when Springfield was still Eugene’s dirty neighbor. Plank Town changed all that. As a brewery in a small city, it’s a quintessential model of the bellwether brewery, the one that calls people and businesses back. How romantic.
Plank Town was started by Bart Caridio, who has his hands in a few other pies in Lane County. Along with him came brewer Steve van Rossem, a local brewery veteran whose tenure stretches back to West Brothers in the mid-90s, and whose most recent engagement was the “One Hop Wonder” brewer at Block 15. We loved his beers; the Stein drank them up.
Living up to its name, the timber-clad restaurant gained a quick following for quality food without pretense, full-flavored beer, and a solid cast of characters behind the bar. The weekend brunch is a must, especially with a pint or two. As restaurants go, it’s had very little turnover, and Plank Town has publicly demonstrated its love for its staff through a series of Facebook posts called “Merry Planksters.” These in-depth mini-bios capture the stories of people you see there every day, and are a fantastic example of social media done right.
It was Plank Town, literally, that got me to go to Springfield, and it’s Plank Town that calls me back, since I will undoubtedly run into friends there. Always ask what’s on the beer engine; Bart’s Best Bitter is a favorite, even when doctored with other hops or citrus peel in the cask. The darker beers, Streetcar Stout and Highland Skirt, are luscious. The hop-forward beers can be a tad sweet, but Alpine Trail Pale never fails. For the river, a sixer of Blue Pool Pils is just right.
One of the things I enjoy about the beer, specifically the one-off types, is the story and joy with which they are presented. The brewers are stoked, the staff is stoked, and even if it’s not the best beer I’ve ever had, drinking it on location makes it better. What’s more, downtown Springfield is now more cohesive and successful than ever, with several Eugene businesses opening new locations there in 2019 alone. May it prosper.