fter surviving the summer heat, wildfire smoke and the Apoc-Eclipse (seems like so long ago now, doesn't it?), all of Bend deserves to relax with a beer. The rest of September offers a vast range of opportunity for this, both locally and across the state.
Right this weekend is Bend Oktoberfest, the unofficial beginning of autumn for any beer fan. The city's downtown never needs an elaborate excuse to close a couple streets and party it up in the non-winter months, but Oktoberfest is a sillier one than most, with wiener dog races, stein-holding contests (the USA record is 25 minutes, so get those forearms limber) and 18 different fall-oriented beers from Central Oregon breweries.
Mt. Angel Oktoberfest (and beyond)
Looking for German-themed debauchery outside of downtown? Oregon's largest fest is held simultaneously this weekend in Mt. Angel, outside of Salem, and there are similar events in Newberg, Canyonville, Brookings and Bend, once again next weekend, over at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. (And speaking of Old St. Francis, Sept. 16 is their annual Halfway to Saint Patrick's Day celebration, featuring bagpipes, stout beer and all the iced Irish coffee anyone could want.)
All hail the hop harvest
But lager and brats aren't all September has to offer—this is Oregon, and around here, the falling temperatures means it's time for the hop harvest. Several fresh-hop beers are already on tap around the region, including Three Creeks' annual Cone Lick'r ale, made with Centennial hops trucked in straight from the B&C Hop Farm in Woodburn, on the north end of the Willamette Valley. These hops went from B&C's fields straight to the brew kettle in a little under four hours, assuring that all the aromatic intensity of the freshly-picked cones makes it straight into the glass.
Cone Lick'r, and several dozen fresh-hop beers like it, will be all over the region shortly. It'll figure prominently in the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival Sept. 30, which focuses a bit more specifically on both Central Oregon breweries and the hop farms supporting them right here in Deschutes County. There's a similar fest taking place in Portland that weekend too, but the biggest fresh-hop bash is still the one held in Hood River Sept. 23, with over 75 varieties available from beermakers up and down the Pacific time zone. It's a "style" that Oregonians should be proud to call their own, and just like every early fall, there's no better time to dive right in.