More than 70,000 beer lovers are expected to travel from around the world to attend the 31st annual Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) this summer. Considered one of the nation’s longest-running and best-loved craft beer events, the outdoor festival will take place July 26 through July 29 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the west bank of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. daily, and taps are open from Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
The OBF will serve 80 craft beers from small, traditional, and independent craft breweries located in 10 different states, as well as The Netherlands, and Baja, California. The northwestern Mexican state of Baja has defined itself as the country’s largest contingent for “cerveza artesanal,” and the festival is excited to present five breweries from that region.
The complete list of participating breweries includes 54-40, Agua Mala, Anderson Valley, Backwoods, Baerlic, Bayern, Belching Beaver, Boneyard, Boulder, Boundary Bay, Breakside, Buoy, Caldera, Cascade, Coin Toss, Crooked Stave, Depoe Bay, Deschutes, Double Mountain, Ecliptic, Everybody’s, Fauna, Fort George, Fortside, Freebridge, Fremont, Gigantic, Golden Valley, GoodLife, Great Divide, Great Northern, Great Notion, Heathen, Heretic, Hopworks, Insurgente, Iron Horse, Kells, Laurelwood, Lompoc, MadTree, Maui, McMenamins, Melvin, Migration, Monkless, Natian, New Holland, Ninkasi, Old Town, Oproer, Oregon City, Pelican, Perennial, pFriem, Portland, RiverBend, Rogue, Royale, Rusty Truck, Sasquatch, Scout, Silver Falls, Silver Moon, StormBreaker, Sunriver, Terminal Gravity, Three Creeks, Three Mugs, Thunder Island, Transpeninsular, Upright, Uptown Market, Vertigo, Von Ebert, Wendlandt, Widmer, Wild Ride, Wolf Tree, and Zoiglhaus.
The festival will present more than two dozen different beer styles ranging from Berliner Weisse to Belgians, IPAs to IPLs, pales to Pilsners, and sours to stouts. For the first time ever, the OBF will also offer two ciders – one from Cider Riot! and the other from Reverend Nat’s – as well as one red and one white wine.
The vibrant festival will also feature live music all four days with no cover charge, six food booths, a number of beer related vendors, souvenir sales, and homebrew demonstrations.
The OBF is not a ticketed event; it is free to enter the festival grounds. In order to taste beer, the purchase of a souvenir tasting mug from the current year is required, which costs $7. Beer is purchased with wooden tokens, which cost $1 apiece. Patrons pay four tokens for a full mug of beer, or one token for a taste. The purchase of mugs and tokens is made on-site. The event is cash-only, with eight ATMs located on-premise.
The festival encourages responsible drinking and urges patrons to take Tri-Met; the MAX Light Rail has a station one block from the main festival entrance. Alternately, attendees who ride their bikes can park them for free in the Hopworks Urban Brewery secure bike corral. For those who bring a designated driver, the Crater Lake Soda Garden provides complimentary handcrafted soda (no mug purchase required). Minors, who are allowed into the event all hours when accompanied by a parent, also receive free Crater Lake Soda.
In celebration of their impact on Oregon brewing history, the McMenamins family has been chosen as this year’s ceremonial Grand Marshals to lead the parade and tap the official opening ceremony first keg. Soon after McMenamins opened Portland’s Barley Mill Pub on S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. 35 years ago, Brian and Mike McMenamin, along with other craft brewing pioneers, successfully lobbied their elected representatives to pass an Oregon bill allowing people to make and sell their beer onsite. The “brewpub” concept was born and McMenamins opened Oregon’s first post-Prohibition brewpub, the Hillsdale Brewery & Public House in S.W. Portland. Today, McMenamins remains a family run company and offers hundreds of varieties of handcrafted beers.
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 flourished, with more than 5,300 craft breweries in America, according to the Brewer’s Association. The economic impact of the Oregon Brewers Festival on the local economy is annually more than $20 million.