Friday, May 31, 2013

Looking Ahead to Festival Season

This past weekend, Memorial Day, was the unofficial start to summer and while the weather in Portland has been slow on the uptake, the beer festival scene is moving forward regardless.

June kicks off with the third annual Portland Beer Week, which includes the Rye Beer Fest and the Portland Fruit Beer Festival. Rye Beer Fest will celebrate its second year with a new venue, more beers and expanded hours. Held at EastBurn on Friday, June 7th, you can find a full beer list and additional details on their website.

Portland Fruit Beer Festival is in its third year, as a two-day festival taking place at another East Burnside establishment, Burnside Brewing, June 8th and 9th. "Main Stage" beers will be available for most of the festival (although going the first day is your best bet to make sure you don't miss out on anything) while the "Rare & Rotating" beers will be on two to four at a time, being replaced as the kegs are emptied. If you think are fruit beers are fru-fru, just take a look at the beer list and you'll soon find out otherwise.

After two festivals focused on beer flavors, the North American Organic Brewers Festival shifts focus and invades Overlook Park in North Portland. The festival, in its ninth year, offers three days filled with organic beer and ciders, live local music, organic food and more. Starting on Friday, June 27th and running through Sunday, June 30th, the festival bridges the gap between the younger, shorter duration festivals that started June and the larger, longer, more established "Big One" in July.

That "Big One" is none other than the Orgeon Brewers Festival which comes at a time when summer *should* be in full swing. Now in its 26th (!) year, the festival has expanded to a full five days running Wednesday, July 24th through Sunday, July 28th at Waterfront Park. Over 80 craft beers will be available, hailing from across the U.S., and for the first time those beers will be poured into glass tasting glasses. These replace the plastic mugs that are so prevalent at Oregon festivals, a move which I'm hopeful will continue to spread.

These four festivals are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of beer events, especially during Portland Beer Week, but they offer a chance to try a multitude of beers that are often not available elsewhere. So mark your calendars, put your liver on notice and enjoy the bounty of the Portland summer beer scene!

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