I spent two days at the Oregon Brewers Festival, and I drank my fill. I fired off summary tweets, snapped a few photos, and joined in the spontaneous group whooping, a periodic exclamation ("woooooo!") that seemed to express the idea of, "We’re here, there’s beer, and we’re not working." A Dionysian declaration of defiance, if you will.
My only regret was drinking three citrus-based beers in a row on Friday; the Ginger & Meyer Ann from Blue Frog Grog & Grill (meh), 10 Barrel’s Zitrone Kolsch (zesty), and Cascade Brewing’s Buzz Tent entry, a head-snapping honey, ginger, and lime hybrid that tasted like it came from a Norman Rockwell soda fountain. Who knew beer could be thirst quenching? Despite subsequently sucking down two bottles of water, my palate was whack.
As usual, navigating the beer tents took the balletic grace of Baryshnikov and a storm trooper’s indifference to one’s fellow man, but it was a manageable chaos. If the crowd seemed more substantial than in year’s past, it’s because it was. According to numbers released today by brew fest organizers, this was the fourth year in a row that new attendance records were set, with more than 80,000 brew believers from all parts of the planet landing in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Guests guzzled 85 craft beers from 14 different states, not to mention another 40 small-batch specialty beers in the Buzz Tent. Moreover, a growing number of Portlanders exercised the two-wheeled option. Members of the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition counted 1200 bikes in the bicycle parking area.
On the philanthropy front, the event raised $10,000 for Pints for Prostates an organization dedicated to getting the word out to men of a certain age (the dominant brew fest demographic, by far) that regular prostate screenings are a really good idea.
So what’s in store for OBF’s 25th anniversary next year? New, bigger, location? Sedan chair taxis? Ale dunk tank? Ponder a while, drinking buddies, and peruse our web exclusive slideshow from the 2011 Oregon Brewers Festival. Cheers!