Portland, OR – It’s only been a few days since this writer and his spouse took the annual visit to downtown Portland, for the Oregon Brewers Festival. Despite what many people groaned about (long lines, large crowds) the event was quite comfortable for those willing to ‘play hooky’ or vacation in PDX.
However you classified yourself during those four days and nights, you can include yourself as one of 80,000 that took home memories. Here is what the Oregon Brewers Festival organizers had to say about 2011’s iteration of this 24 year tradition.
"Portland has had a slow start to summer, with cooler than average temperatures and not a lot of sun," explained festival director and founder Art Larrance. "The warm spell kicked in just in time for the festival, and it brought a lot of people outdoors to celebrate."
The four-day affair kicked off on Thursday, July 28, with a mile-long parade of 800 brewers and beer lovers through the streets of downtown, led by beer writer Fred Eckhardt in a PDX Pedicab and accompanied by the Transcendental Brass Band. Upon arrival at the venue, Eckhardt swung a wooden mallet to drive a brass tap into the official first keg of the festival, presented by McMenamins Breweries.
In the two main beer tents, the OBF served 85 different craft beers from 14 states across the country. New this year was a tap devoted to a gluten free beer, a welcome addition for a number of attendees who drank the kegs of Deschutes Gluten Free NW Pale Ale dry. An additional 40 beers were tapped in the "Buzz Tent," which offered tastes of rare and specialty beers from the participating brewers, and ran out late Friday night due to an overwhelming demand.
On Sunday of the event, Larrance presented a check for $10,000 from the Oregon Brewers Festival to Pints for Prostates, an organization that uses the universal language of beer to reach men with an important health message about the need for regular prostate health screenings and PSA testing.
The festival grows in popularity every year, and beer lovers came from every state in the nation, and many countries around the world, to join in the celebration. In addition to beer tasting, there was live music all four days, food from six area restaurants, a collection of beer-related vendors, homebrewers, and breweriana displays.
Minors and designated drivers received complimentary cups of handcrafted root beer and free face painting in the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden. Staff from Everyday Prevention provided education on the potential dangers, risks, and unhealthy community norms associated with underage drinking in the same area.
Nearly 1,200 bikes were parked in the complimentary and secure bicycle parking area, manned by volunteers with the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition. The festival employed nearly 2,000 volunteers to pour beer, sell tokens, and aid with recycling education; plastic mugs from this and past year's festivals were collected at exits to be recycled.
About the Oregon Brewers Festival
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, where 91 brewing companies operating 121 brewing facilities in 50 cities in Oregon. There are 40 breweries operating within the Portland city limits, more than any other city in the world; the Portland metro area is the largest craft brewing market in the US, with the greatest amount of breweries, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild. The Oregon Brewers Festival annually generates an economic impact of close to $2 million for the state.
The Oregon Brewers Festival always takes place the last full weekend in July. The 25th annual event will take place July 26 through July 29, 2012. For more information, visitwww.oregonbrewfest.com.