*This past weekend my wife and I volunteered to pour samples at the Spring Beer and Wine Festival. We had a blast, and this event review is a copy of a newsletter article I wrote for the Oregon Brew Crew newsletter.
“Beer and Wine” in the title of the Spring Beer and Wine Festival is a bit of an understatement. Because, joining the thirty-three breweries and fourteen wineries in attendance were seven cider makers, nine local distilleries and a handful of local artisan cheese and chocolate makers in a huge celebration of Portland and the Northwest. Also joining the party were dozens of merchants selling everything from kilts to timeshares; wrought iron beer bottle holders to massage chairs and everything else imaginable. The festival is a Portland institution now in its 21st year. The website touts it as the nation’s largest, sampling related springtime event.
For those of us who have caught the brewing bug, the Oregon Brew Crew were on hand showing off some nice homebrewing gear and answering questions. They were also showcasing a couple of beers from the Collaborator series, which are homebrew recipes that are chosen in a competition and brewed on an industrial scale by Widmer Brothers. Proceeds from the sales of Collaborator beers fund scholarships in the brewing program at Oregon State University.
Whether or not it was intentional on the part of the organizers is unclear, but this festival seems to be geared towards the smaller local breweries. Noticeably absent were the major local players like Widmer, Full Sail and Deschutes. One of the major national figures was present and pouring some of its smaller craft-style offerings. Blue Moon, Leinenkugals and Crispin Cider (All distributed by MillerCoors) were pouring samples as well. Rather, this festival was filled with small breweries with funky, fun names like Rusty Truck, Calapooia, Awesome Brewing and Sasquatch. The festival has a “trade show” type feel, in part from being hosted at the Convention Center and each brewery has an individual booth, but also there weren’t the huge lines of a lot of other festivals, as there is ample seating and people mostly mill about and enjoy the atmosphere.
One of the breweries in attendance was so new, they haven’t actually opened yet. Coin Toss Brewing out of Oregon City is set to open their tap room in June or July and this festival was their first time serving beer to the public. Brewer/Owner Tim Hohl was on site most of the time anxiously watching people’s reactions to his beers.
Throw in some perfect Spring weather and you have a great weekend to be a beer drinker in Portland. Cheers!