Zwickelmania, the annual Oregon-wide celebration of its wondrous beer and brewery scene, is coming next month. Why the early notice? Because with the way the 2017 version of this celebration is set up, Bendites may want to consider organizing a weekend trip to Portland for it.
An annual event since 2009, Zwickelmania is a one-day bash in which over 120 breweries across the state open their doors, holding tours, meet-the-brewer talks, special tastings and more. Except this year, it's actually two days. Breweries in metro Portland celebrate Zwickelmania Feb. 18, while the rest of the state, including Central Oregon, holds the event the following Saturday, on Feb. 25. It's really the best of both worlds for people in Bend, giving beer fans a chance to check out the Zwickel scene up in Portland without missing out on all the stuff the local joints are brewing up for the day.
First, the Bend highlights. Free shuttles connected to 14 different breweries holding events last year, the highlight of which being Boneyard and its parking-lot block party just south of downtown. Full pints served at the brewery? Sure—anything is possible during Zwickelmania! They'll be back at it this year, as will places like Worthy, Riverbend and Wild Ride. If the weather's nice, though, head for Crux for beers around the firepit and free tastes from their Banished series straight from the barrels they age 'em in.
But what about Portland, where the show kicks off on Presidents' Day weekend? The possibilities are practically endless. Check out Widmer, for example, to get a chance to tour their pilot system and chat with co-founder Rob Widmer. Grab some brunch at the Rogue Eastside Pub (formerly the Green Dragon, may it rest in peace). Check out some of the one-offs being produced by smaller guys like Baerlic and Grixen. It's also Migration Brewing's seventh birthday that weekend, and they're releasing a special stout with coffee and milk for the occasion.
No matter what winds up on the itinerary, though, it's worth making a few stops to see just how big this scene really is.