or beer fans, August will be a difficult month to go on a diet. That's because the local area will play host to two separate enormous beer festivals—the Bend Brewfest, starting Thursday and going 'til Saturday late night, and the Redmond Brewfest next week, just in time for eclipse traffic.
The year 2017 marks the 15th Bend Brewfest, and through the years it's grown to one of the largest beer-oriented events in the state. Spread out across the fields around the Les Schwab Amphitheater, thousands of people show up for it, basking in the sun as they try out the massive cornucopia of adult beverages on offer. A total of 86 breweries, cideries and wineries will be attending, along with a swath of food carts and other sellers. It's a hallmark event—be sure to arrive thirsty (and don't try to drive anything afterward).
A few things to watch out for in particular among the booths:
One highlight of any Brewfest is getting to check out selections from breweries that don't normally distribute to Bend. Top among them is ColdFire, the small Eugene-based outfit that's been hitting it out of the park with their IPAs and farmhouse-style beers. They're keeping it a bit more relaxed for the undoubtedly-hot fest weekend, however, bringing along their flagship NW Ale and a German-style pilsner with an Oregon-style hoppy flair.T
his year's event also marks the unofficial debut of several breweries starting to ship kegs to Central Oregon. This includes places such as McMinnville's Evasion Brewing (gluten-free specialists), Oregon City's Coin Toss Brewing and Sedition Brewing, a small place in The Dalles offering a killer rye-infused IPA.
Cascade Brewing, the Portland stalwart that recently redid all their logo and label designs, is bringing their sour A-game to the festival. Three wild-fermentation beers will be lurking around the X-Tap tent, including Shrieking Violet (a blend of sours aged with blueberries in wine/bourbon barrels) and Suimo Amaimo, a pluot-aged sour brewed in conjunction with Y. Market Brewing in Japan.
Even for locals, though, the Brewfest is a good chance to catch up with close-to-home breweries that you might not visit very often. Take RiverBend Brewing, which has quietly been doing a lot to boost its quality lately. Look out for Rum Away With me while prowling around the Amphitheater; it's a stout brewed with oats for an extra-smooth finish, then aged for three months in Clermont Springs rum barrels.
Winter's coming sooner or later, after all.