Way back when, The Little Woody started with a small group of local brewers getting together to share the barrel-aged beers they were producing. The small batches of brew were made as a way to celebrate craft brewing as an art form, back when every element of beer culture wasn't soaked up by the general populace and their craft brew-loving ways. Today, the 8th annual version of The Little Woody combines Central Oregon's love of beer, whiskey and cider, while keeping it all in a historical perspective.
Creative and Vendor Director of Lay it Out Events Karin Roy explains more about the rising popularity of the event: "The Woody...particularly in the last couple of years because of the cumulative momentum of the event, there is just so much more interest (in terms of the amount of breweries that want to be involved) than there is space. We're physically constrained by the location, which is great. I actually love that about the event. We'll never grow beyond that still pretty intimate setting."
The list of breweries and cideries is an impressive one. Along with local favorites such as Three Creeks, Worthy, Silver Moon, Deschutes, Atlas and Wild Ride, there's an even larger selection of national and regional mainstays. For example, Eugene's Ninkasi Brewing is bringing the "Oak Ages Sleigh'r," a dark double alt aged in Heaven Hills bourbon barrels for 16 months, as well as a Belgian style tripel.
My personal favorite Portland brew team, The Green Dragon Brew Crew, is bringing "Summer Wood," a pale with Centennial and Simcoe hops aged for three days in a Rogue whiskey barrel, as well as "Descent into Darkness." For that one, Green Dragon took their Russian Imperial Stout recipe and aged it in a bourbon barrel for several weeks before cellaring it for eight months.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Allen from Worthy Brewing gave us a hint of what they would be bringing to the tap. "Tap one is 'Lyrical Genius' (ABV 8 percent), our take on a Belgian Flanders Red that was aged in Sangiovese barrels for 18 months, resulting in notes of tobacco, dried fruit and fresh berries. Tap two is 'Green Gose' (ABV 4.5 percent), which isn't barrel aged and perhaps sort of a respite station from some of the bigger beers being poured at the fest. We went classic with malted wheat and sea salt, but instead of coriander, added fresh Thai basil and lime leaves for an herbal and tart finish. We have a library of barrel-aged beer that we bust out just for occasions such as this. It's all chosen based on what's tasting good and then blended accordingly."
The event is nestled in the lawn and parking lot outside the Des Chutes Historical Museum, giving the entire affair a sense of a beautiful, well-attended secret. Roy explains: "It's more intimacy than exclusivity. The nature of those kind of brews (and we're not just talking beers, but cider as well now) tend to be more expensive because there's a lot more time and effort invested into that. That tends to weed out the drunk-a-thon piece of it."
The Little Woody truly celebrates the artistic side of the craft brew culture. That artistry is what gets Roy excited for the event every year. "My deep dark secret is that I'm really not that into beer...but I love the creative process. The Woody is about that, about the individual expression of small batch beers."
The Little Woody
Friday, Sept. 2 & Saturday, Sept. 3
Friday, 5-10pm & Saturday, noon-10pm
Des Chutes Historical Museum, 129 NW Idaho Ave., Bend