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Food & Drink » Beer & Drink

High Gravity in the High Desert

Big beers (and bands) take over McMenamins

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As the brewing industry matures, specialty beer festivals have become prized as a way to showcase particular and peculiar styles. This is a great trend. The inaugural Central Oregon Winter Beer Festival back in December was a huge hit and The Little Woody Barrel Aged Beer and Whiskey Festival in August is one of the best beer events in the West, showcasing the entire breadth of a specific niche. These days, it's not enough to just pour standard fare beers, call the event a beer festival and expect people to get excited—specialization is key.

McMenamins' High Gravity Extravaganza on Saturday is a festival that has that focus figured out. The theme here is BIG, as in big alcohol content. And in that boozy vein, McMenamins Old St. Francis School has curated 17 freakishly boozy specially made beers from nine select McMenamins breweries across the state, as well as six local breweries. Not just winter warmers, there will be an array of high-gravity beers on display here, including imperial IPAs, Scotch ales, barley wines, ESBs, Russian Imperial stouts and English Browns.

Beers we're particularly excited about include Worthy's Dark Muse Imperial Stout (10.1% ABV), Solstice's malty Winter Schnocker (9.25% ABV), Bend Brewing Company's Big Bad Russian Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV), and McMenamins beers, Highlander (7.6% ABV) from Portland's Crystal Brewery and Aristocrat IPA (8.4% ABV) from Bend's Old St. Francis Brewery.

High Gravity Extravaganza

1-10pm Saturday, Jan. 18

McMenamins, 700 NW Bond St.

Free entry, $1.25 per taste

High-gravity beers from select McMenamins breweries, as well as six other area breweries. Live music from 3-6pm and 7-10pm; meet the brewer from 2-5pm.

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