A record 85,000 people celebrated the 26th annual Oregon Brewers Festival
Beer lovers traveled from all over the world to take part in the five-day event
A record 85,000 people traveled from all parts of the world to celebrate the 26th consecutive Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) this past weekend. The event, which opened on a Wednesday for the first time ever, took place July 24 through July 28 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland.
“We decided if we couldn’t add space to the footprint of the festival, then we’d add another day and see if that helped spread out the crowds,” explained event founder Art Larrance. The theory worked; the crowds on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were solid, yet beer lines ranged from non-existent to not long at all.
The other notable change to this year’s event was the switch to a tasting glass following 25 years of serving into a plastic mug. Despite consumer concerns of broken glass, there were very few issues on-site, and the response to the switch by the consumer was overwhelmingly positive.
“Beer should be enjoyed in a glass; it allows the consumer to fully enjoy the sight, smell and taste of the beer,” said Larrance. He added that the festival will continue to use a tasting glass in the future.
The five-day affair kicked off on July 24th with a two-mile-long parade of 600 brewers and beer lovers through the streets of Portland. This year’s Grand Marshal, local longtime beer writer John Foyston, led the parade, pedaling his way to the opening ceremonies on a beer-themed bicycle. Once onsite, Foyston drove a brass tap into the inaugural wooden keg – containing a Belgian blueberry by BridgePort Brewing Co – heralding the start of the festivities as beer flowed for all.
In two main beer tents, the OBF served 84 different craft beers, including two gluten free beers, from 12 states across the country. The most represented style was fruit beer, with 15 entries, marking a shift from the past, when IPAs ruled the festival. In addition to beer tasting, attendees enjoyed live music all five days, food from six area restaurants, homebrewers demonstrations, and a collection of beer-related vendors ranging from ceramic beer growlers to glass blown pints and kegerators to kilts.
Minors and designated drivers received complimentary cups of handcrafted root beer and free face painting in the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden, a benefit for the Community Transitional School for homeless children in Portland. In the same area, staff from Everyday Prevention provided education on the potential dangers, risks, and unhealthy community norms associated with underage drinking.
More than 2,900 bikes were parked in the Hopworks Urban Brewery Bike Corral, manned by volunteers for Transportation Solutions ByCycle. The festival brought in more than 2,200 volunteers to pour beer, sell tokens, and aid with recycling education.
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 succeeded, especially in Oregon, where 137 brewing companies operate 175 brewing facilities in 59 cities in Oregon. There are 51 breweries operating within the Portland city limits, more than any other city in the world. The 2012 Oregon Brewers Festival generated an economic impact of $30 million for the local economy.
The Oregon Brewers Festival always takes place the last full weekend in July. The 27th annual event will take place July 23 through July 27, 2014. For more information, visit www.oregonbrewfest.com.