By Pete Dunlop
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Portland Beer Week returns for 2017, its seventh year, with a calendar packed full of events, as well as some new twists. It runs Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, June 18.
This year’s official beer is Hop Berry IPA, brewed with marionberries by Culmination Brewing. It will be available on draft and in limited-edition bottles at Whole Foods Markets and other beer-centric retailers in the Portland area.
Although beer is the main focus, Portland Beer Week extends that theme. It features a variety of activities that happen alongside opportunities to enjoy great beer. The event is effectively a celebration of Portland’s beer, food and arts culture rolled into one.
“Our goal is to showcase the world of beer in the greatest beer city on earth,” said Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Portland Beer Week founder. "We do that through brewer’s dinners, tastings, educational seminars, festivals, games and more.”
One of the big additions this year is an indoor Marketplace at the Kickoff Party, Thursday, June 8. Beer-related merchandise will be available for purchase along with free food and drink samples. The party will be split across two separate levels: the Exchange Ballroom and the Cascade Rooftop, which features spectacular views of the city.
“I’m really excited that folks like the Oregon Cheese Guild are joining us and our collaborative beer and food project vendors like Salt & Straw ice cream and Blue Star Donuts,”
Johnson-Greenough said. “Kickoff attendees can sample spirits, chocolate, jerky, hop candy. We’ll have beer schwag, too.”
Another addition this year is the Dinner Series, which features a handful of collaborations between top local breweries and chefs. Organizers have built the schedule to avoid piling up dinners on the same date.
“I’m looking forward to Firestone Walker at Hair of the Dog, Culmination Brewing at The Woodsman, Block 15 and Ruse at an Imperial Session pop-up dinner and Modern Times at Pizza Jerk,” Johnson-Greenough said.
Returning this year is the Seminar Series, presented by Oregon State University and the HR Group. Several forums will explore subjects like beer industry branding, starting and building a brewery from nano to production, sustainability in brewing, barrel-aging beers and the making of sour and wild ales.
The beer event schedule jumps into action shortly after the Kickoff Party with the Fruit Beer Festival at Burnside Brewing, Friday, June 9 through Sunday, June 11. Billed as the premier showcase for brews spiked with fruit, the all-age event also features local vendors, food, DJs and non-alcoholic drinks.
“We’ve moved back to Burnside after last year’s experiment in the Park Blocks,” Johnson-Greenough said. “We’re spreading the beer stations out and the venue will have more shade and seating than in previous years at Burnside. We’ll also have more help at check in to speed entry.”
Next up is Masters of IPA, an invitational event highlighting 14 of America's best brewers of the hopped-up style. It moves to a larger venue, Ecliptic Brewing, and includes collectable glassware and meet-the-brewers sessions on Friday, June 16.
The Rye Beer Fest, in its sixth year, returns with a new date and venue: the Happy Valley Station indoor/outdoor food cart pod and taproom on Saturday, June 17. The all-age event will feature more than 20 beers and 18 food carts.
Portland Beer Week’s official finale, Snackdown, is back for a second year on Sunday, June 18. Presented by Gigantic Brewing and taking place in The Evergreen event space above Loyal Legion, it offers more brewer and chef pairings.
“It’s going to be another great year for Portland Beer Week,” Johnson-Greenough said. “We’re reaching out to tourists and casual beer fans in our marketing efforts and it seems like we’re getting more of those folks. Attendance has been increasing every year and I’m confident it will again.”
Follow Portland Beer Week’s social media channels for updated news and information. Advance tickets for most events are available online.
By Aaron Brussat
For the Oregon Beer Growler
If you think of Portland’s beer scene as the sun, Portland’s beer festivals would be its solar flares, sunspots and cosmic wind. It’s always burning — exothermic blasts of molten malt, hops, yeast and beards swirling and bubbling with every new beer release party. A tower of foamy fire appears on the horizon; we shield our eyes and say, “Oh look, a beer festival!”
Every beer festival fills a niche, and many open beer drinkers’ eyes to what lies just beyond their experience, that errant bottle in the back of the fridge. Portland Farmhouse Weekend provides a city-wide opportunity for beer lovers to go deep into a largely misunderstood sect of beers. The “Weekend,” set for Friday March, 31 through Sunday, April 2, is an extension of the Portland Farmhouse & Wild Ale Festival, now in its fifth year, held at Saraveza Bottle Shop.
To say that founder Ezra Johnson-Greenough has a few beer festivals under his belt is an understatement. He’s been conceiving and organizing events in Portland for years. Johnson-Greenough started the Portland Fruit Beer Fest, and his fingerprints are all over Portland Beer Week and many other tap-related happenings. Some are annual; others spring up and are gone, not unlike styles of beer on a taplist suited for today’s fickle consumer.
Johnson-Greenough’s goal for the Farmhouse & Wild Ale Festival is to “make it the best fest of its kind. We’re increasing the size of tents, hours and beer. The last couple years have been more stagnant. There was no marketing budget for the fest.”
This says a lot about the popularity of the event; Saturday’s general session last year was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people vying for tastes of rare beers from big names like The Ale Apothecary and Jester King Brewery.
In expanding the festival, Johnson-Greenough has also expanded the concept. On top of Upright Brewing’s eighth anniversary party, beer releases and educational seminars around town, Wander Brewing, from Bellingham, Wash., will bring its 25-barrel coolship to town for a collaboration brew with Breakside Brewery. The project will generate beer for the event in coming years.
The festival includes a beer release specifically for attendees. Last year, The Commons Brewery produced The Croze, a pale beer fermented in open-topped barrels (croze is a cooperage term referring to the groove at either end of the barrel that holds the head in place). This year’s very limited release is a lambic-style beer from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. Brewer Shilpi Halemane, who’s been at the Hood River brewery a year-and-a-half, started a program of beers brewed in the “Methode van Lembeek” with veteran wild ale brewer Curtis Bain. For the festival, “We thought it might be nice to showcase and sneak preview a single barrel that tasted really good.”
The beer, Saraveza Sour, is brewed with Pilsner malt, raw wheat and aged hops. The brewing process uses a multi-step mash (raising the temperature several times to activate different enzymes) and a two-hour boil. The beer is transferred from the kettle to a coolship — a wide, shallow metal vat open to the country air. There it picks up a bevy of microscopic hitchhikers that will eat their way through the complex sugars in the wort. The inoculated wort is transferred to conical fermentors for two weeks before it is racked into used American oak barrels.
The final product is “in the 5.5% alcohol range. It is tart and Brett-forward with a funky aroma, very clear and bright. It has a classic lambic profile; that’s kind of the goal.”
More and more breweries in the country are experimenting with spontaneous fermentation. They pay homage to the classic Belgian appellation while showcasing the “terroir” of local yeast and bacteria. The wort can be produced in the same way anywhere, but it is the surrounding air that ultimately gives the beer its personality.
What Is Farmhouse Beer?
In our modern era of opaque, flesh-colored IPAs that taste like the Tropicana test kitchen, it’s easy to lose sight of the creative work being done with Oregon’s state microbe Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ale yeast) and its cousins Brettanomyces (a “wild” yeast), Lactobacillus (a common fermenting bacteria), and others — the fermenting family tree is more like a forest.
Most brewers will credit Saison Dupont as the godfather of farmhouse-style beers. It was first imported to the United States in the 1980s, and helped to usher in the idea of beer as a flavorful beverage. It defies accurate reproduction by way of its yeast, which some speculate to be a blend of strains. With a simple malt and hop regimen, the beer gets its particular spicy-fruity profile from unusually high fermentation temperatures.
The new, Americanized genre of “farmhouse” beers encompass a range of styles, flavors and colors, as their origins are multifarious and knotted in untold agrarian histories.
“I like how broad a term it is for the range of things you can use,” says Halemane. “I dislike it for the same reason. If I read a description and it says ‘farmhouse ale with cherries,’ that could mean anything.” At Logsdon, “By virtue of brewing it in a barn, we could make anything and call it a farmhouse ale.” Very tricky. Overall, the farmhouse flavor relies on the characteristics of fermentation and is augmented with the brewer’s choice of malt, hops, wood, fruit and/or spices.
The Farmhouse & Wild Ale Festival has one rule: only U.S. farmhouse-style beers.
“There’s no reason to discriminate if it was made on a farm or not,” says Johnson-Greenough. “It matters how good it is. I’m looking for yeast-forward, Belgian-inspired beers from breweries known for their farmhouse beer — mostly. It’s a very exciting year because there’s more and more options.” Some of the breweries making their debut this year include Alesong Brewing & Blending, Astoria’s new Reach Break Brewing, Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery and Yachats Brewing.
Learn more about Portland Farmhouse Weekend at portlandfarmhousefest.com.
By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Love to drink beer but short on funds? For a few hours of your time you can gain free entry to most festivals, a T-shirt, the requisite drinking vessel and some tasting tokens. All you have to do is sign up to volunteer. Options usually include pouring beer (OLCC license required at some fests; be sure to check online to verify), handling token sales and recycling duty. For those with more experience, you can become a supervisor, thereby earning even more tokens. Taking the last shift of the day or of the festival often gets you free food and pitchers of beer or a gift certificate to a local business. Most volunteer tasks are for adults age 21 and over. Many festivals donate some or all of the net proceeds to local charities, so be sure to toast yourself for your efforts!
The Oregon Beer Growler also uses volunteers to help run our booth at festivals. Interested beer lovers should follow our Facebook page for sign-up announcements or email email@example.com.
Event: Spring Beer & Wine Fest
Dates: April 3-4
Location: Oregon Convention Center, Portland
Description: Sampling, seminars and chefs teach the masses about pairing beverages with everything from cheese to chocolate. Brewers from all over the West Coast flock to the Spring Beer & Wine Fest, pouring rare beers and perennial favorites.
Volunteer Info: http://www.springbeerfest.com/volunteers.htm
Event: The Rogue Valley Fermentation Celebration
Dates: April 24-25
Location: Harry & David Field, Medford
Description: This inaugural celebration will gather some of the best beers and whiskeys from across the Northwest, in addition to regional wines and ciders. Local foods to compliment craft beverages will be available at the event.
Volunteer Info: http://roguebrewfest.com/volunteer/
Event: Cinco de Micro
Dates: May 1-2
Location: Salem Convention Center, Salem
Description: The fourth-annual Cinco de Micro Brewfest features favorite local and Northwest brews, eateries and distilleries, musical entertainment and the unique opportunity to taste hard-to-find, spring-release brews. Proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Salem.
Volunteer Contact: Stephanie Compton firstname.lastname@example.org 503-581-7383, ext. 20
Event: Cheers to Belgian Beers
Dates: May 8-9
Location: Metalcraft Fabrication, Portland
Description: Cheers to Belgian Beers is back for its ninth year in 2015. The Belgian-style Ale Festival will feature a single yeast strain for the beers entered, determined by a dart throw to diversify the color and strength of the beers.
Volunteer Info: http://ocb.events-connect.com/
Event: Brewer’s Memorial Ale Festival
Dates: May 15-16
Location: Rogue Ales Brewer’s on the Bay, Newport
Description: This annual event was created in memory of Rogue brewmaster John Maier's faithful companion Brewer, who passed away on May 20, 2006. Brewer grew up in the brewery and eventually rose to the rank of CEO of Rogue Ales. The dog-friendly festival is held inside the brewery and includes more than 50 microbrews, live music and many dog-themed events.
Volunteer Contact: Al Jorgenson email@example.com 503-241-3800
Event: Eugene Beer Week
Dates: June 1-7
Location: Eugene Beer Week takes place at more than 20 venues including breweries, bars, restaurants and other beer-centric businesses.
Description: Have fun and help promote craft beer in Eugene and craft beer culture in the Willamette Valley with the annual Eugene Beer week. With more than 60 events last year, the festival plans to expand even more for the 2015 celebration!
Volunteer Contact: Mike Coplin firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Sasquatch Brew Fest
Date: June 6
Location: Hop Valley Brewing, Eugene
Description: The annual Sasquatch Brew Fest will be hosted outdoors in the “Fermentation District” of the Whiteaker neighborhood. This celebration features food vendors, a silent auction, raffles, a beer dinner and a homebrew contest. Winner of the “Best of Show” award will be announced live during the festival.
Event: Molalla Brew Fest
Dates: June 11-13
Location: 123 Ross St., Molalla
Description: Celebrating the craft beer industry in and around the Pacific Northwest, the Molalla Brew Fest features more than 25 taps, plus wine, hard cider, draft root beer, food concessions and great local bands.
Volunteer Contact: Kristy Wheeler 503-970-8859
Event: Portland Fruit Beer Festival
Dates: June 12-14
Location: Burnside Brewing Company, Portland
Description: A weekend-long, street fair-style outdoor festival at Burnside Brewing, the Fruit Beer Festival features more than 40 refreshing, well-crafted fruit beers, most of which have been brewed specifically for this event.
Volunteer Info: http://www.fruitbeerfest.com/
Event: The Oregon Garden Brewfest
Dates: June 19–21
Location: The Oregon Garden, Silverton
Description: Enjoy 65 breweries pouring 130 beers, ciders and meads from producers throughout Oregon and across the country, plus 12 great regional bands on two stages and food from local vendors. The brewfest is held indoors, but guests are welcome to explore the 80-acre botanical garden.
Volunteer Contact: Beth Mauer email@example.com 503-874-2533
Event: Eastern Oregon Beer Festival
Dates: June 19-20
Location: Union County Fairgrounds, La Grande
Description: La Grande Main Street Downtown organization is pleased to announce the second-annual Eastern Oregon Beer Festival will be a two-day event with special beers never before poured in the Pacific Northwest, regional food and craft vendors and music and entertainment.
Volunteer Info: http://www.eobeerfest.org/volunteer/
Event: Portland International Beerfest
Dates: June 26-28
Location: Holladay Park, Portland
Description: Drawing more than 150 brews from at least 15 countries to a beer garden setting, the Portland International Beerfest puts Beervana on the map, letting locals punch their passport with worldly offerings like barrel-aged strong ales, barley wines, sours, imperial stouts, farmhouse ales and double IPAs.
Volunteer Info: http://www.portland-beerfest.com/volunteerinfo.php
Event: Portland Craft Beer Festival
Dates: July 3-5
Location: The Fields Neighborhood Park, Portland
Description: This new festival’s goal is to host an annual premier craft beer event that enables all breweries within the city limits of Portland to showcase their beers on a common stage. Aside from beer, there will be selections of Portland-crafted ciders and wines, as well as locally based food vendors.
Volunteer Info: http://www.portlandcraftbeerfestival.com/volunteers
Event: Oregon Brewers Festival
Dates: July 22-26
Location: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland
Description: Celebrating its 28th year, the Oregon Brewers Festival brings more than 80 craft brews to Portland for a five-day brewfest, the largest gathering of its kind in North America. One of the country’s longest-running and best-loved craft beer festivals, the event features scores of award-winning beers, live music, food vendors, beer memorabilia and homebrewing demonstrations.
Volunteer Info: http://www.oregonbrewfest.com/index2.php?p=volunteer
Event: Bite & Brew of Salem
Dates: July 23-26
Location: Riverfront Park, Salem
Description: The Bite & Brew of Salem is a three-day festival featuring more than 15 bands on two outdoor stages, several local eateries, more than 60 beers on tap, Willamette Valley wines and endless entertainment for kids of all ages.
Volunteer Contact: Krista Unruh firstname.lastname@example.org 503-307-6256
Event: Bones and Brews
Dates: Aug. 1-2
Location: Rogue Ales Public House, Portland
Description: Bones and Brews is an annual event held by Rogue as the annual meeting of Rogue Nation Citizens. More than 30 different beers, ciders and sodas from Rogue and other breweries are featured. Local barbecue restaurants and catering companies set up shop to cook new and classic barbecue dishes and participate in a friendly competition. Rogue Nation Citizens also form barbecue teams and compete for People's Choice Awards.
Volunteer Contact: Al Jorgenson email@example.com 503-241-3800
Event: Oakridge Keg & Cask Festival
Date: Aug. 8
Location: Uptown District, Oakridge
Description: This small festival in front of the Brewers Union in Oakridge gives a taste of the many small breweries and wineries in Oregon. Now in its fifth year, they are expanding to include additional food and craft vendors as well as a slate of musicians.
Volunteer Contact: George Custer firstname.lastname@example.org 541-225-8484
Event: Bend Brewfest
Dates: Aug. 13-16
Location: Les Schwab Amphitheater, Bend
Description: Four full days of hop, yeast and malted barley bliss on the banks of the Deschutes River. Featuring more than 170 different options of beer, cider and wine and a fine selection of food from local vendors.
Volunteer Info: http://bendbrewfest.com/volunteer.html
Event: North American Organic Brewers Festival
Dates: Aug. 13-16
Location: Overlook Park, Portland
Description: Designed to raise awareness about organic beer and sustainable living, the NAOBF serves up nearly 60 organic beers & ciders from around the nation. From summery saisons to rich and hearty stouts, the festival offers beers to please every palate. There’s also live music, organic food, sustainability-oriented vendors and nonprofits, and a children’s area.
Volunteer Info: http://www.naobf.org/volunteer-signup/
Event: Nano Beer Fest
Dates: Aug. 14-16
Location: Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub, Tigard
Description: Featuring more than 25 different special and seasonal beers from smaller nanobreweries in Oregon, Idaho and Washington as well as live music and meet-the-brewer sessions. Beer stations are set up under a large tented area in the back parking lot, with seating there, along the creek side of the pub and on the patio.
Volunteer Info: http://nanobeerfest.com/volunteer.asp
Event: The Little Woody
Dates: Sept. 4-5
Location: Des Chutes Historical Museum, Bend
Description: To commemorate one of Central Oregon’s hallmarks — craft beer — and lend a nod to the historic techniques used by brewers with oaken casks, The Little Woody features small-batch beers aged in wood barrels by top Northwest breweries.
Volunteer Info: http://thelittlewoody.com/volunteer/
Event: Eugene Brews Cruise 5K
Date: Sept. 7
Location: Hop Valley Brewing, Eugene
Description: This year’s Brews Cruise will be a Labor Day celebration! Runners will start at Hop Valley Brewing and wind their way to Railroad Boulevard, continuing on down River Road. Loop back around for a tour of the Maurie Jacobs Park paths and return to the North Whiteaker District for a finish line celebration at Hop Valley.
Volunteer Contact: email@example.com
Event: Oregon Brews & BBQs
Dates: Sept. 11-13
Location: Granary District, McMinnville
Description: Oregon Brews & BBQs is all about great food, great regional brews and a whole lot of fun! This event features more than 50 taps serving craft beer from at least 35 breweries for your enjoyment throughout the weekend, delicious barbecue and other food delights, as well as live music.
Volunteer Info: http://oregonbrewsandbbq.com/volunteer/
Event: The Taste of Oregon’s Old West
Date: Sept. 12
Location: Cottonwood Canyon State Park, between Condon and Wasco
Description: This new festival showcases the beverages (including beer), food and recreation to be found in the beautiful John Day River basin. Every year, the event will rotate through the four sub-regions of the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association: John Day River Territory (Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler and Grant Counties), Northeast Oregon (Wallowa, Baker and Union), Oregon’s Rugged Country (Umatilla and Morrow) and Southeast Oregon (Malheur and Harney).
Volunteer Contact: Janet Dodson firstname.lastname@example.org 541-786-8006
Event: Single Batch Bier Fest
Date: Mid-late September (TBD)
Location: Oakshire Brewing Public House, Eugene
Description: The Single Batch Bier Fest celebrates creative, single-batch brews, and the annual hop harvest season including fresh-hopped beers, pumpkin beers and other fall varietal favorites.
Volunteer Contact: Meridy Wheeler email@example.com
Event: Mount Angel Oktoberfest
Dates: Sept. 17-20
Location: Downtown Mount Angel
Description: This year marks the 50th anniversary of this philanthropic event that celebrates the harvest, Bavarian style. Along with 50 food booths and a large arts and crafts show, the traditional Biergarten, family Weingarten and interactive Alpinegarten entertainment venues have something for everyone.
Volunteer Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Newberg Oktoberfest
Dates: Sept. 18-19
Location: Memorial Park, Newberg
Description: It’s the third year for this family-oriented event brought to you by the Rotary Club of Newberg Early Birds along with local sponsors. Highlights include the grand opening parade, craft brews, live music, a wiener dog race, lederhosen contest and children’s activity tents.
Volunteer Contact: Chris Irwin email@example.com
Event: Bend Oktoberfest
Dates: Sept. 18-19, 2015
Location: Oregon Avenue, Bend
Description: Sample traditional Bavarian foods, beers from Central Oregon breweries, wines and ciders and listen to live music at this 10th-annual celebration of Oktoberfest. This all-ages festival offers something for everyone, including wiener dog races and absurd games of skill like yodeling, stein holding, hammerschlagen and more.
Volunteer Info: http://bendoktoberfest.com/volunteer/
Event: Independence Fresh Hop Fest
Dates: Sept. 18-19
Location: Riverview Park, Independence
Description: The Independence Hop & Heritage Festival happens every last full weekend in September. It features vendors who sell local crafts and foods along with contests like pie eating, scarecrow building and homebrewing.
Volunteer Info: http://www.hopfestival.org/#!contact/c5fi
Event: Southern Oregon Brew Fest
Dates: Sept. 18-20
Location: The Expo, Central Point
Description: Celebrate abundance and reap the rewards of harvest time at the Southern Oregon Harvest Festival and Brew Fest. Featuring more than 60 craft beers, a fierce homebrew competition, plus food, music and lots of old-fashioned fun for the whole family.
Volunteer Info: http://www.attheexpo.com/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=3
Event: Pacific Northwest Brew Cup
Dates: Sept. 25-27
Location: Various locations, Astoria
Description: Now in its 14th year, this festival features more than 30 Northwest beers on tap, along with live music, food vendors and activities for the kiddos. Enjoy some limited-edition beers at the Brewer’s Reception on Thursday night and fuel up at the Brewer’s Breakfast on Saturday morning.
Volunteer Info: http://pacificnorthwestbrewcup.com/volunteer/
Event: Hood River Hops Fest
Date: Sept. 26
Location: Downtown Hood River
Description: The Hood River Hops Fest is a beer lover’s dream, serving up 65 fresh-hop beers from more than 45 regional breweries. Fun for the whole family, this festival offers a full lineup of live music, great local food, arts and craft vendors and a children’s area.
Volunteer Info: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hood-River-Hops-Fest/127886120593522
Event: Sisters Fresh Hop Festival
Date: Sept. 26
Location: Sisters Village Green Park, Sisters
Description: This fifth-annual event features brews from around the state of Oregon and their unique fresh hop flavors. All breweries that participate bring at least one fresh-hop beer (meaning the brews are made with hops straight off the bine)!
Volunteer Contact: Jeri Buckmann firstname.lastname@example.org 541-549-0251
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.