The Oregon Brewers Festival witnessed a banner year with a record attendance of 60,500 beer lovers at the 20th annual festival, and the largest number of kegs poured to date. The four-day event concluded on Sunday, July 29, at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
The event kicked off on July 26 with a one-mile brewers parade on the city sidewalks, led by Portland Mayor Tom Potter and accompanied by bagpipers, drummers, and beer lovers. Upon arrival at the venue, Mayor Potter followed the Oktoberfest tradition in which the Lord Mayor taps the first keg, by swinging a wooden mallet to drive the tap into the official first keg of the festival.
The Oregon Brewers Festival served 73 different craft beers from 14 states across the country. The top sellers were the light, refreshing fruit beers, including 21st Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat, Cascade Brewing’s Razberry Wheat, and Eugene City’s Honey Orange Wheat.
Beer lovers came from every state in the nation, and many countries around the world, to join in the celebration. One particular group flew in from Holland, volunteering as token sellers before partaking in the festivities.
The festival’s minor and designated driver program, which offered participants dog tags with the logo "None Before 21," was a great success. Minors and designated drivers received access to the Crater Lake Soda Garden, which served complimentary handcrafted sodas and ice cream floats. Staff from the Wallowa Valley Together Project offered education on the potential dangers, risks, and unhealthy community norms associated with underage drinking.
The Oregon Brewers Festival was founded in 1988 as an opportunity to expose the public to microbrews at a time when the craft brewing industry was just getting off the ground. Today, that industry has succeeded, especially in Oregon, a state that has more craft breweries per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Oregon’s beer production grew at a rate of nearly 17 percent in 2006, pumping more than $2.2 billion into the state’s economy. The Oregon Brewers Festival alone has an estimated economic impact of $1.5 million on the city of Portland.
The Oregon Brewers Festival always takes place the last full weekend in July. The 2008 dates will be July 24 through 27. For more information, visit www.oregonbrewfest.com.