This weeks marks the 27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival, the Ur-Fest of Oregon’s beerfests, which kicks off Wednesday the 23rd and runs through the weekend to end on Sunday, July 27. This is one of those festivals that every beer lover should attend at least once, for this final full weekend of July on the Willamette River in Portland is (in my experience) always a hot, beautiful weekend, and in addition to being immersed in Portland’s amazing beer culture you’ll see costumes, a wandering Oom-pah band, brewers, homebrewing, amazing beers that you probably won’t find anywhere else, and much, much more.
I won’t be able to attend this year, alas, but I wish I could: there are more brewers and beers than ever (88 pouring in all), the Specialty Tent will have another 100 beers pouring, and for the first time ever, brewers from outside the United States will be pouring beer! (In the Specialty Tent.)
The Oregon Brewers Festival is flying over both beer and brewers from Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij Rodenburg, Microbrouwerij Rooie Dop, Brouwerij Maximus, Brouwerij Duits & Lauret, Brouwerij de Molen, Oedipus Brewing, Het Uiltje, Oersoep and Ramses Bier. Bierbrouwerij Emelisse is also sending beer as well, although no brewer representation.
Each brewery will serve five of their beers daily in the festival’s Specialty Tent, an area where vintage, barrel aged, blends and esoteric one-offs from participating breweries are also offered. The brewers will be available for daily meet the brewer sessions at the event. They will also be doing a special Meet & Greet and beer tasting event at Belmont Station, a local bottle shop, on July 24 from 4 to 8pm.
Dubbed NL to PDX (#NLtoPDX), the program started when festival director Art Larrance learned that Portland has a Friendship City relationship with the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Upon visiting, he discovered a growing craft brewing movement that reminded him of the Northwest craft beer industry in the 1980s; brewers who are just beginning to explore new flavors and styles.
The Brewfest is open from noon to 9pm each day except Sunday, when it closes at 7pm. Admission int the fest is free, though you’ll need to purchase the 2014 souvenir glass for $7 in order to drink beer, and the wooden tokens good for a sample cost $1 each (though I believe you have to buy them in packs). You can use tokens from previous years as they recycle them, but you’ll have to buy the glass.
This is my favorite all-around festival, and I’m sorry to be missing it this year. But I’ll still be posting more about it this week, in particular some of the beers I think you should be looking for. There are also some fun factoids sent out with the press kit that make for a fun read, and perhaps for nostalgia’s sake I’ll re-run some pictures from past years.
In the meantime, clear your calendar and get ready for Portland!