Summer is flying by, but the beer festival season is, if anything, just kicking off. Next month is gonna be hopping locally, of course, with the big annual Bend Brewfest unfolding across the Old Mill August 13-16 and the Little Woody barrel-aged beer-and-whiskey festival pouring closer to downtown just two weeks later. (Pro tip: Volunteers can pour for a few hours at either event, which earns you some free tokens and is a total blast besides. Signup info at bendbrewfest.com or woodybeer.com.)
But beer festivals are also a great excuse to roam around the Northwest, gawk at the exotic people, and examine their indigenous beverages. Here's a sample of what's coming up around Oregon before Labor Day:
Oregon Brewers Festival (July 22-26): The state's largest in terms of attendance, Oregon's original brewfest—sprawled across the waterfront just outside Old Town Portland—isn't exactly an exclusive venue. But braving the crowds will get you samples from 90 brewers, including a dozen from New Zealand and the Netherlands making special appearances for this event.
Bite & Brew of Salem (July 23-26): Happening at the same time as the Oregon Brewers Festival is this much more low-key event, one that'll give you a chance to try offerings from local places like Santiam, Vagabond, and Salem Ale Works. (You'll be within shooting distance of all of Eugene and Corvallis's brewpub hotspots, too.)
Bailey's Taproom Barrel-Aged Beerfest (August 2): Portland's premier beer bar celebrates its 7th birthday with 20 different massive beers on tap, from a 10 Barrel pumpkin sour made in 2011 to a Pinot-aged cherry beer made by Upright Brewing just for this event. Try to arrive with a full stomach.
Nano Beer Fest (August 15-17): Beer fans of the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality should check out this event, hosted by Max's Fanno Creek Brewpub in Tigard. Small breweries from across the Northwest take center stage here, from Chetco way down in Brookings, to 1188 Brewing way out in John Day. (Bend's own Bridge 99 Brewery is showing up, too.)