This year, for the first time since 2007, I was able to make it up to Portland for the Oregon Brewers Festival—the biggest beer festival in Oregon, if not the Pacific Northwest. (They bill it at “North America’s largest gathering of independent brewers” which I’m not so sure about considering the Great American Beer Festival, but anyway.)
You can read all the various related blogging bits about the OBF over on The Brew Site, my beer blog; beer reviews, vignettes, pictures (soon), that sort of thing. It was a really good trip, and a good festival; the amount it has grown even in the past four years since I was last there is amazing—used to be, you could hit the Fest on the first or second day early, right after they opened, and you’d have the run of the park and the beers, sure there were people there but there were no real crowds and no real lines anywhere.
That seems to have changed; even Thursday (the opening day) within the first couple of hours the crowd was bigger than I remember and there were lines to beers—in fact, the Maui Brewing CoCoNuT Porter apparently ran completely out by 12:30 (gates open at noon) on the first day—which if you ask me is just insane.
Because of my beer blog, I was able to get into the special blogger preview early on Thursday, tasting 15 beers to write about (which had to be done by the next day), plus I got a “media” badge and a mug as part of the package. I always feel a little conspicuous and slightly sneaky wandering around wearing the media badge, like I need something more to show for it than just carrying a notebook and a small camera along with me. (Okay, to be fair I had a backpack with those items in it plus the netbook computer, extra water, tokens, and Brew Site business-type cards.)
I also got the opportunity to meet and hang out with some bloggers and industry folks, which was a nice bonus to the weekend (of course). And hit up a couple of breweries: the Tugboat Brewery which I absolutely love but hadn’t been too in many years, and the new Burnside Brewery which I’ve been reading great things about (and who have some of the more unusual beers that I’ve seen).
Altogether, a really good weekend.