The Brew Site

The Session #16: Beer Festivals

The first Friday of the month means it’s time for the group beer blogging session known, appropriately enough, as The Session!

This month’s theme is courtesy of Geistbear Brewing Blog: Beer Festivals:

As Summer approaches we are in full swing of beer festival season, so it seemed the perfect topic for the June Session. Do you have a favorite beer festival you like to attend or a particular memory of inspirational moment at a festival? Or perhaps talk about what you would like to see out of festivals or perhaps the future of them. All is fair game, I look forward to seeing where people take this topic.

Ironically, for the amount of talking I do about the subject, I’m still pretty much a Beer Fest Novice. By which I mean I’ve only actually been to a handful of festivals (not counting the beer garden-type areas of different fests), so my experience with the "Beer Festival" is colored a bit by that lack of, er, experience.

The Oregon Brewers Festival is the main one I’ve attended, and my favorite. (Is it a favorite because it’s the one? Or the one ’cause it’s the favorite?) My attendance for the OBF is sporadic, though; I was able to attend the past two years (2006 and 2007)—you can read all my OBF-related posts, reviews and photos here—but I had a five year gap or so between them and the last time I had attended, and will likely have a gap for the next few years (I won’t make it this year).

Part of the appeal of the OBF for me is Portland (Beervana) itself, and part of it is the simply the festival: everyone’s friendly, the beer is great, it’s a lot of fun. Even as the size of the crowd grows outrageously large, it’s still very civil and friendly—and ultimately you can slink off to one of the many other beer drinking options Portland has to offer.

What do I expect out of the Beer Festival? To be honest, I haven’t completely figured that out yet. The chance to discover some new beer, certainly, and share that experience with friends. The opportunity to "talk shop" with other beer enthusiasts. The chance to just find out what other festivals have to offer.

In general, though, I don’t think a beer fest should be just about drinking beer—otherwise you end up dealing with the people that are just there to drink (and get drunk). I think it needs to be about the experience (there’s that word again) and should offer something more, something unique, maybe.

I don’t have any answers, though—I’m still looking for it. I suspect it’s an ongoing process, but one I’m happy to keep writing about.