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A ‘pour’ excuse for a friendly feud

Master Brewer Stephen Mathys at Coast Fork Brewing, served up a Keizer Creek Kolsch. Named for one of the two waterways that flow through town, this beer is bright, crisp, and light gold in color.

Nate Sampson and his team at Covered Bridge Brewing, served up tall glasses of Slabtown Pilsner.

While our region may be best known for the annual feud between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, a friendlier and tastier feud occurred this weekend in Cottage Grove. One might call it the battle of the beers, hops at high noon, or a keg-sized kerfuffle, but one thing is clear: this town is actually big enough for the both of them. On the west side of Highway 99 stands Coast Fork Brewing and Feed Store, and on the east side stands Covered Bridge Brewing Group. Both local institutions have produced a special beer for Bohemia Mining Days over the past few years to provide thirsty visitors with a chance to sample some good-natured rivalry in the form of refreshing microbrews. And this last weekend was no different as both establishments catered to record crowds under sunny skies. At Covered Bridge Brewing, Nate Sampson, Founder and Chief Brewing Officer, and his team served up tall glasses of Slabtown Pilsner. “It’s a pre-Prohibition-style pilsner with a blend of a little corn and Galena (an old-world variety of hops) and some Czech Republic hops called Saaz,” he said. “People really enjoy it, and of course I think it’s the best beer you can have during Bohemia Mining Days!” Over at Coast Fork Brewing, Master Brewer Stephen Mathys and his crew served up Keizer Creek Kolsch. Named for one of the two waterways that flow through town, this beer is bright, crisp, and light gold in color. “It’s a lot of fun to rekindle the friendly rivalry between Slabtown (Covered Bridge’s side of town) and Lemati (Coast Fork’s allegiance and Cottage Grove’s first town name),” he said. “In fact, Coast Fork served as the official Lemati City Hall during the festival, and we donated our sales of Keizer Creek to the festival itself.” While the competition is all in good fun, both Sampson and Mathys agreed that it’s wonderful to be back to somewhat normal operations after two tumultuous years during the worst of the pandemic. “It’s just great to be back and serving a lot of people at our brewery,” said Sampson. “Just returning to normal and being busy with both the folks at Bohemia Mining Days, as well as folks visiting from Eugene and the World Track Championships – we felt like we were ground zero for the excitement.” Mathys added: “It just feels awesome to have people back. We were down to just three employees on the floor during the pandemic, but last year as more people came back to the festival, we actually ran out of food. That’s a good problem for a restaurant and brewery – especially after the year-plus with Covid.” So, whether it was a pint of Slabtown Pilsner or a tall glass of Keizer Creek Kolsch, residents and visitors from around the region were able to raise a toast this past weekend to whichever side of Cottage Grove they preferred – Slabtown or Lemati. And while their glasses were held aloft, I’m sure a few words of hope were uttered for many more days of sunshine.