Eugene plays host to endless wine tastings and brew fests — now it’s time for distilleries to take the spotlight. The Hard Times Distillery Expo, featuring 17 Oregon distillers, takes place Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Hult Center.
Why drink local spirits? “On top of boosting the local economy, which is growing business, Oregon is really at the forefront of the craft distilling market and is putting out some really great products,” says Ben Maude, co-owner of Hard Times Distillery in Monroe, Oregon. “There’s the full gamut of spirits available that are made here.”
Hard Times Distillery produces vodka, whiskey and something it calls “Sweet Baby Moonshine,” made with oats and barley.
Maude says the expo will feature small craft distilleries, giving them an opportunity to get their names out to a Eugene audience. Participating distillery vendors include Vivacity Spirits from Corvallis, Still Wagon Distillery from Charleston, Immortal Spirits from Medford and New Deal Distillery from Portland.
Vendors will occupy the inside and outside of the Hult Center, Maude says, with display tables and samples ready for tasting. Cost of admission includes a Hard Times Distillery shot glass and unlimited tastings, within reason. Live music, spirits available for purchase, cocktails and food trucks round out the ensemble.
Hard Times Distillery has lacked a tasting room since losing its Whiteaker location earlier this year to zoning issues, but Maude says to look out for a Hard Times kiosk at Valley River Center in September. “It’s not a traditional storefront, but it’s right in the middle of everything,” Maude says.
Meanwhile, check out Maude’s distilled goods and many others at the Hard Times Distillery Expo, starting 4 pm Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Hult Center. Cost is $25 in advance and $30 day of the event. This event is 21-plus, and IDs are required.