The Brew Site

Oregon Garden Brewfest wrap-up review

Yesterday I posted my thoughts and notes about the Brewer’s Tasting Dinner for the Oregon Garden Brewfest, so today is the rest of it: my review of the Brewfest (from attending on Friday). Interestingly the press release just came out yesterday highlighting the record attendance for this year’s Brewfest (6000 vs. 3200 last year which seems pretty respectable for Silverton) and the People’s Choice beer of the Fest—more on that in a bit.

First off, the Oregon Garden itself is a pretty amazing place. It opened in 2001 and consists of some 80 developed acres, with 40 more acres planned, and among its features are an artificial wetland (part of a deal with the city of Silverton to help cool and process their treated water), an old-growth oak grove (including a 400-year-old oak tree), market garden for growing food (all of which is donated to local food banks), a rose garden, tropical greenhouse (closed during the Brewfest unfortunately), children’s garden, “Northwest” garden (featuring every plant native to the Pacific Northwest), the Gordon House (the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in the state of Oregon), and much more. If you get the chance to visit the Oregon Garden just for its own sake, I highly recommend you do that, it’s pretty spectacular what they’ve accomplished in just a dozen years.

The Brewfest itself took place in the Frank J. Schmidt Pavilion, the Garden’s event center, with an additional tent to hold the 45 breweries as well as the food vendors, music stages, tables, wineries, and more. A big space that can hold a decent amount of people and as the day progressed there was a decent amount of people showing up, yet it never felt overly crowded.

The Fest started just after noon (about 15 minutes late actually as they worked out some last-minute kinks) and the first two hours featured the “connoisseur’s tasting” with brewers on-hand to talk about the beers that were being poured. Since my rule of thumb with beer festivals is to get there the earlier the better, this was of course the best time to attend: light crowds, easy access to any of the beers, and I got to introduce myself and chat with a number of brewers which, you know, is beer geekery at its best.

My wife and I split our time at the Brewfest that day, from about 12 until 3:30 or so, and then back later from about 5:30 to 7:30. It was a good gauge of the crowd and overall Fest scene: by the early evening it was significantly busier and people were having a good time, without the crazy loud crowd scene that was the Oregon Brewfest last year on a Friday afternoon—less people, sure, but definitely a mellower vibe which I prefer rather than the “college frat house” feel.

And of course, it’s a Brewfest, so it is all about the beer. I took brief notes on nearly everything I tried—I did a good job of hitting many if not most on my personal must-try list—so here are those notes:

Here are some of the Brewfest photos I took (I have a lot more of the Oregon Garden itself that I may post as well just because it was so cool—but not really beer-related.)

And finally, the disclosure I posted yesterday: I was offered not only a media pass to the first day of the Brewfest (Friday), but also a pass to the Tasting Dinner and a free night at the Oregon Garden Resort. The media pass consisted of two commemorative glasses and ten tasting tickets. (We paid for a second Dinner for my wife, and paid for a second night at the Resort to stay until Saturday, as well as  extra tasting tickets.)