Team: Eugene Emeralds
Affiliate: Chicago Cubs (A – Short Season)
Ballpark Basics: A shared ballpark that feels just like home.
Eugene, Oregon is the quintessential college town. The University of Oregon dominates the local sports scene whether it is football, basketball, or track and field. The university revived their baseball program in 2009 after being dormant for nearly three decades. The ballpark is named after the former athletic director, Pat Kilkenny, who helped fund the completion of the park. With Civic Stadium beginning to show its age it made sense for the Emeralds to move in as well, which they did in 2010.
Located across the Willamette River from downtown Eugene and next to the towering Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks play football. The teams share the vast amount of parking that surrounds both fields. With much smaller crowds for baseball games the wide swaths of parking can give it a little more of a desolate feel.
Walking up to the ballpark two angular brick buildings jut out from to form the entrance to the park. You walk up a set of stairs to wide open concourse that is covered by luxury suites and a cantilevered roof. Down the right field line you take another set of stairs down to the team store and a large picnic area that lines the first base side. Down the left field line a set of bleachers adds additional seating as well as another picnic area.
Local brewer, Ninkasi Brewing Company is the sole craft brewery supplier for the Ems. While you can find beer stands scattered around the park your best option is the Ninkasi Bar on the concourse along the third base side. Here you will find a 20-foot-long walk-in cooler, complete with over 10 taps. Ninkasi works with the Ems on various community projects, including Home Runs for Schools where for the 15-minutes after a home run, a portion of each pint sold goes back to schools. They also do various fundraisers for Military Appreciation, Breast Cancer Research, Pride Night as well as other community organizations.
The University of Oregon does not skimp on their athletics budget and PK Park is no exception. In a joint venture both teams get to benefit from one ballpark. However each team does a good job of making park feel like their own. From the large inflatable when you enter PK Park to Ems logo behind home plate (and around the park) to the Sasquatch statue on the concourse you don’t get the feeling that them Ems don’t share the park, but that it is their own.
Falling Sky Brewing
Rating: Home Run!
Brew Basics: Aptly named for the area, this group handcrafts pretty much everything, and is really good at what they do.
Like many cities today, Eugene has several options for beer connoisseurs. We had the opportunity to visit several and were never disappointed, but overall our favorite ended up at Falling Water. There are actually four iterations of Falling Water, the original brewery, a homebrew shop, a pizzeria, and a deli. The original (pour house) was walking distance from downtown and so that’s where we headed.
The place is a long rectangle with more of a modern feel. Walking in to the establishment you’ll note long family style tables in the center, some smaller tables near the brew tanks to the far side and bar stools on a long bar that overlooks the patio and a few self-busing stations interspersed. High ceilings with barn like exposed beams and large glass walls.
There’s also a good sized “trout friendly” patio running the length of the building. It’s got a nice fence helping provide some privacy and sound barrier, lots of plants and decorative lighting and fun artwork create a pleasant atmosphere. There’s even limited shade if you can get it, but if you’re there on an overcast day (very possible in the PNW) never fear – they actually give a very appropriate 10% discount when it rains.
To place an order, navigate through the seating area to access the counter in the back. It’s the short side of the rectangular space, so every spot seems to have a purpose. A large stainless steel oven to the left takes up a good third of the back wall, and there’s an opening that leads to the back kitchen. The rest of this area is glassware and storage, with beers are listed on three chalkboards above. One miss is that the information on the available draughts are limited to names, IBVs and IBUs. There wasn’t really any information to help differentiate them, but the bartender was attentive and willing to offer descriptions and opinions.
They offer flights which are even served up on a cloud shaped tray. We started with the smaller sampler which lets you select 4… and then went back for a few more:
7th Anniversary Doppelbock (8.1% ABV/23 IBU) Doesn’t taste like an 8.1, sweet bodied, ends with sparkle and a little bite. A raisin colored beer with caramel and toffee notes. The bouquet is light-brown sugar and mostly malts. It gets sweeter, with flavors of cherry juice and molasses as it warms up.
Chubby Cherub (6.4 ABV/18 IBU) The Cherub is a porter that smells just like chocolate. It’s smooth with maybe a hint of cherry. Not heavy or boozy at all, just easy summer drinking like a chocolate cream cold brew.
Trouble Every Day (4.5% ABV/62 IBU) Pours strong, bright, golden-yellow with white lacing. The aroma is grassy and a little funky. The taste is herbal and earthy and it has a pretty good bite to it. Already herbal to begin with, these notes strengthen as the Trouble sits. Jim thought this ISA tasted like pot.
Sky Island IPA (6.8% ABV/ 68 IBU) True gold color with a ring of white. The smell is light and mostly floral, and this conveys similarly to the as well. Ends dry, floral and hoppy.
Tippy Spruce Tip Berliner Weisse (3.1 ABV/ 3 IBU) This traditional German beer is as light as the abv and ibu numbers bely. A pale, pale yellow color that smells sour. Though light there is so much flavor, most of it tangy sourness with a light, piney finish.
3rd Rauch From the Sun (4.5% ABV/20 IBU) Light, golden lager in color, with light carbonation. This Rauchbier (say “Rau” like “cow” or just hear it here!) that smelled honestly like a good, smoked gouda (really!). The taste also leaves that dry smoked aftertaste that you associate with the delicious rind cheese.
Dry Hopped Brut (8.2% ABV/72 IBU) A softer golden yellow color that left white lacing behind. We’ve had a few of these Brut IPAs that are just like a chardonnay, but this one wasn’t Gillian found it smooth, Jim thought it had a bite. Either way, Falling Sky’s Brut is clean and clear, and finishes drier than it starts.
1334 Oak Alley
Eugene, OR 97401