Oregon Brewers Festival 2016 – What you need to know

Oregon Brewers Festival 2016You probably don’t need me to tell you the Oregon Brewers Festival is taking place next week in Portland. This year marks the 29th annual iteration of this event, one of the oldest and largest in the country, and it’s pretty well known so I’ll dispense with the usual event details; you can find what you need on the website.

So how about some things about the OBF that you may not know? Fortunately I’ve got a few to share.

(Plus my usual disclosure: I will be attending OBF under media credentials, and I’ll be selling books on Thursday and Friday. The media credentials usually come with some free beer.)

There are 88 beers pouring from American breweries this year, and then the International Beer Garden pulls in additional beers and brewers from around the globe and looks pretty great:

The International Beer Garden will feature another 25 products, with six breweries from Japan – Baird, Iwate Kura Beer, North Island, Shiga Kogen, Shonan and Y Market; seven breweries from The Netherlands – De Molen, Frontaal, Maximus, Oedipus, Oersoep, Oproer and Van Moll; one brewery from China, Jing-A; plus two breweries from Germany – Brauerei Nothhaft and Lang Bräu. The brewers from each country will be available daily to talk about their beer. The International Beer Garden was incorporated three years ago as part of a cultural exchange of ideas, knowledge and the celebration of craft beer.

I think this is the first year that breweries (and brewers) from Japan will be there. And in fact on Thursday the 28th, Belmont Station is hosting a public meet-the-Japanese-brewers event from 6 to 8pm. (I will be attending the media-only version the hour before.)

So that’s 113 beers pouring, and there are a surprising number of German-style sours:

  • Gose: 5
  • Berliner Weisse: 8

Together these make up 11% of the total, which is pretty impressive to me. Some of the names of these are great too: Boom Gose the Dynamite (McMenamins Edgefield), Gose Gose Gadget (Stone! Who would have predicted they would bring a gose?), Disco Lemonade (Aslan).

And then there are the just-plain-unusual beers by style, or ingredients, or whatever. Such as:

  • Mango Helles from Base Camp Brewing
  • Cedar IPA from Burnside Brewing
  • Japanese Herb Ale Sansho from Iwate Kura Beer
  • Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Mexican Spice Cake from New Holland Brewing
  • Kentucky Refresh-Mint from Old Town Brewing (“Mint Julep Beer”)
  • Lemon Curd ESB from Pints Brewing
  • Luikse Vechter from Van Moll (55% spelt malt)

Among others. Go check out the online list; it’s pretty great. (And I’m sure Jeff will post his usual deep-dive style breakdown to get a sense of what hot (and not) this year.)

And there’s a new mug this year! Here’s the scoop, and a picture:

For the first 25 years of the OBF, beers were served in a thick, milky white plastic mug. In 2013, we switched over to a glass to better allow the color of the beer to shine through. That continued in 2014, but last year the Portland Police and Portland Parks decided to ban glass from all parks, so we switched to a high-quality, BPA-free plastic glass. This year, we are returning to a mug, but now it’s a 12 oz. clear styrene plastic free of BPA and phthalates.

Oregon Brewers Festival 2016 mug

See you at OBF!

Received: 2 Towns Ciderhouse Cot in the Act

The latest summer seasonal from Corvallis’ 2 Towns Ciderhouse arrived this week:

Received: 2 Towns Cot in the Act

Cot in the Act is their apricot cider, and they say: “each gallon packs two pounds of Washington- grown, ripe and juicy Rival Apricots.” Should be tasty!

Bend Brewing Company purchases adjacent lot

Bend Brewing Company

For many years, the lot adjacent to Bend Brewing Company sat vacant and fenced, an unsightly eyesore next to the brewpub. It was purposefully left that way, as I understand it, because the owner also wanted to buy the land BBC sat on to develop (into condos, retail, whatever), but since BBC would not sell, he refused to do anything but leave the lot empty and ugly.

Not anymore! Bend Brewing announced today the purchase of that lot in a press release:

Bend Brewing Co. (BBC), established in 1995, and the second oldest brewery in Bend, Oregon, is pleased to announce the purchase of the riverfront lot next to its downtown brewpub location. This premier piece of real estate, on Bend Brewing Co.’s neighboring south side, stretches from Brooks Street to Mirror Pond and has sat vacant for over 10 years.

“I am absolutely thrilled to announce the purchase of the neighboring lot to our BrewPub on Mirror Pond.” said Packy Deenihan, President & Co-Owner. “Our intent is to create an outdoor environment for the patrons of Bend Brewing Co. that will be uniquely Bend, and uniquely BBC, in the heart of downtown Bend.”

This announcement comes just 3 weeks after the grand reopening of the ‘Brooks Street Taproom.’ The remodel is now complete with a new bar, 4 additional taps, and a large hydraulic door with bar top seating that gives customers an open air atmosphere. “The new taproom brings a real eye catching and unique presence to the brewpub, ideal for both big groups and families,” added Deenihan.

In addition to the lot purchase and completion of the remodel, BBC is still celebrating their recent Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup for their Volkssekt Berliner Weisse. “It’s been an exciting couple months for us. Our Brewmaster, Ian Larkin, really set the tone with bringing home Gold at World Beer Cup back in May. It was a real testament to BBC and a continued validation that we are among the best in the craft beer industry.”

This is a terrific development for the brewery—it potentially gives them room to expand, but having a larger outdoor area or beer garden (overlooking Mirror Pond) would be a welcome addition, and definitely improve downtown overall. Great news.

Beer Bloggers Conference thoughts

BBC 16: Welcome Beer Bloggers

We’re a bit more than a week past the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference that took place in Tampa, Florida, and while I’m still digesting a lot of it, I do have some thoughts, and questions, to share. Perhaps fellow attendees will read this and contribute, and perhaps if there are any bloggers and writers on the fence about attending a BBC in the future, this will help them to make a decision.

Thought #1

BBC 16: Night of Many BottlesIt’s hard to talk about the conference without making it sound like a weekend drinking party. To be honest, that’s because it is a weekend drinking party—sort of. The conference itself has value, in the variety of content and education sessions, in the networking, in the exposure to other sides of the industry (or other tangential industries) you may not have considered before. But this is a beer and beer bloggers conference, and beer bloggers (shockingly!) drink, and share, beer; so there are beers being opened at tables and passed around, and samples being poured by vendors, and beer-themed meals, and brewery excursions, and live beer blogging—it goes on! Not that I minded, of course, I’m happy to partake. But it is definitely exercise for the liver.

Thought #2

Now I’ve only been to three out of the seven BBC’s so far, so perhaps this is simply cyclical, but I feel that the actual content (in sessions) was a bit thin compared to the number of excursions and social events on the agenda. (I did mention this in the post-conference survey to the organizers as well.) Perhaps this is in part because I feel like several of the sessions didn’t really give me much I didn’t already know; I would love to see some advanced topics covered. (Then again, I might be atypical in this regard; I’ve been doing this for many years, plus come from a techy, web development background.)

Thought #3

That being said, most of the sessions were good, informative, and fulfilled my expectations and left me with some interesting tidbits to mull over. For example:

→ More than 1.2 million homebrewers in the U.S. brew 2 million barrels of beer per year. [per Julia Herz]

→ This slide from the cornucopia of data from economist Lester Jones:

BBC 16: What's the next brewery name?

→ Having a media kit available, which includes things like the blog history, analytics/stats, about the blog, your rates (if applicable). [via Caitlyn Connolly]

→ Stan Hieronymus‘ entire keynote speech. (Especially: journalistic integrity, echoed by Julia as well.)

Question #1

I asked variations of this of several fellow attendees during the conference and wish I’d kept better track of answers: Why are they attending, and what are they hoping to learn? Alternatively, was the conference valuable to you?

If you’re reading this and attended, feel free to answer, here or on social media. I’m also looking for and reading other people’s BBC posts to get a sense of answers.

Thought #4

We went on the post-conference excursion on Sunday after the conference, hosted by Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater, and that was a terrific experience. We visited three breweries, all only three years old or younger: 3 Daughters Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, and Rapp Brewing. (Four breweries, actually, with an unscheduled stop in at Cycle Brewing as well. They have some of the most unique artwork.) Overall the VSPC folks did a great job, not only hosting the beer trip but also working some history and culture of the St. Pete’s area into the excursion, which is what I would have liked more of when we were tooling around Tampa the day before.

BBC 16: Taps at 3 Daughters Brewing

All three breweries were incredibly gracious and welcoming with us, no mean feat I’m sure when a busload of bloggers shows up looking for beer, and overall I was very impressed with the attention to detail and quality they are focusing on.

And incidentally, 3 Daughters’ biggest account? Disney.

Question #2

How many attendees were there because they want to know how to monetize their blog? (Be it sponsored content, advertising, working/consulting with brands, etc. Or perhaps to put it another way, who wants to be the next Good Beer Hunting?) Conversely, how many were not there for that? I’d be curious to see a breakdown.

More soon.