Only a decade ago, the concept of a beer festival was little more than a plastic cup and a few taps. But, like the microbrew industry itself, the beer festival has matured. Still fun and still an opportunity to sample, these festivals have become increasingly sophisticated, with events like the Little Woody emphasizing the brewing process (brewers are required to produce barrel-aged beers) and Sisters Fresh Hop Festival, which has breweries enter at least one beer produced with hops straight from the vine.
Not surprisingly, Central Oregon has a beer event almost every week—and as these festivals enter their fourth, fifth and sixth years (and some new festivals, like the Volcanic Bike & Brew Festival), the loyal crowds of returning fans has steadily grown.
Last year, the Oregon Brewers Festival drew more than 85,000 people (um, the population of Bend) to the waterfront in Portland, making it the largest beer festival in the country. And, some of the festivals in Bend aren't that far behind. In particular, the Bend Brewfest has become a mecca for beer makers around the state, featuring 72 breweries from nano to macro, like Deschutes.
"It is a wide range of beer styles and technical attributes," says Ryan Duley, Director of Sales & Marketing for Sunriver Brewing Company, which, appropriately, is bringing its S.U.P. Summer Ale, which is brewed with lemongrass and lemon peel; "perfect for a hot August day," says Duley.
Bend Brew Fest
Noon – 11 pm Thursday, August 13 – Saturday, August 15. Noon – 8 pm, Sunday, August 16.
Les Schwab Amphitheater
$15 tasting mug and five tasting token. $1 for additional tokens.
OTHER BEER EVENTS
A hop-centric event, the Fermentation Celebration has continued to grow, adding food carts but still remaining intensely local in its focus.
4 – 10 pm. Old Mill District, 450 SW Powderhouse Dr. $20.
Bite of Bend Beer Run
It is only a five kilometer run, looping through Drake Park, but what makes it difficult is the "race" hardly follows a straight line, stopping for beer tastings along the way, and greeting finishers with a cup of even more beer.
Noon. Start at Crow's Feet Commons, 875 NW Brooks St. $35.
Crux is pretty much a party every evening, with its lawns for drinking and corn holing, but this day-long event ups the ante, with local ska bands and, yup, even more beer.
11:30 am – 10:30 pm. Crux Fermentation Project, 50 SW Division St. No cover.
August 14 - 16
Brewtal Breakdown Music Festival
The annual summer music festival at Broken Top Bottle Shop features three days (as long as Woodstock!) of music, and a Deschutes tap takeover.
Music till 9 pm. Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Ln. Suite 1. No cover.
August 21 - 23
Volcanic Bike & Brew Festival
A new addition to the summer lineup, this event is geared (get it? geared!) toward the mountain bike crowd, as it is scheduled to synch with the third stop of the Oregon Enduro Race series.
Friday 11 am – 9 pm, Saturday 10 am – 9 pm, and Sunday 9 am – 4 pm. Mt. Bachelor, 13000 Century Dr.
September 4 - 5
The Cadillac of beer events, Little Woody insists that brewers do something unique and special for their brews—that is, age them in wooden barrels, a technique that deepens the taste and heft for the beer.
Friday 5 pm – 10 pm, Saturday noon – 10 pm. Next to the Des Chutes Historical Museum, 129 NW Idaho Ave. $12-$20.
Sisters Fresh Hop Festival
With an emphasis on hops, and within that category a specific requirement that at least one entry to the festival is brewed with hops fresh from the vine, this festival has increased in popularity each year.
Noon – 8 pm. Sisters Village Green Park, between Elm & Fir Streets. $5 tasting mug, $1 per taste.