Not to alarm you, but in addition to everything else taking place over Memorial Day weekend, Central Oregon Beer Week kicks off on Friday and proceeds for the next week-plus. A 10-day beer week? Well, why not? (And, if you actually attempt to hit up all the events taking place across the region's breweries and bars, you'll have trouble counting the number of days in a week as well.)
"There is a lot going on this year," said Carlos Perez, part of the group organizing the fourth annual COBW. "I'm definitely looking forward to all the events once again, but I'll be sure not to miss this year's SMaSH Fest at the back end of McMenamins Old St. Francis School. You could enjoy yourself at any one of the Beer Geek Week nights taking place at Broken Top Bottle Shop as well, such as the one taking place May 27 that features Sunriver Brewing, Cascade Lakes and Caldera."
The SMaSH Fest, kicking off 1 pm on Friday (giving you plenty of time to visit if you're hitting the Decemberists concert later that night), is certainly COBW's most ambitious event. In fact, the beer fest—featuring nothing but SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beers from 18 breweries around the area—is totally unique in the United States, a chance to sample beer made with just the basic ingredients and see how choices of malt and hop variety can have huge effects on the resulting taste profile.
Hot beer debuts don't end there, either. Friday will also see the Deschutes Brewery pub debut the 2015 of The Stoic, their whiskey barrel-aged Belgian, in bottles and on tap alongside the past two years' worth of Not the Stoic releases. The next day, Crow's Feet Commons will hold a party to celebrate the launch of 3-Way IPA, Fort George's annual collaboration IPA; they brewed it with Pfriem and Georgetown Brewing this year.
Last year's 3-Way was a citrusy joy that dominated Oregonian drinking habits all summer. Will lightning strike once again? If it doesn't, you won't have to go far to drown your sorrows. Bend Brewing Company, Silver Moon, Riverbend, Three Creeks, Worthy, Wild Ride, Growler Phil's, and more are all holding special tastings, tappings, or meet-the-brewer dinners—have a peek at centraloregonbeerweek.com for details. "One more recommendation I'd have," Perez added, "is to track down a pint of the 'COBW IPA(ish),' the official COBW beer brewed by Sunriver Brewing. A full description and where to get it will be in the guide!"