Feb. 26's Oregon Brewers Guild's 14th annual Zwickelmania may seem slightly confounding since the event is all about getting everyone to crowd into every craft brewery in the state, and we've been told for the last two years not to crowd into anywhere. So if you want to try a bunch of beer—wait, let me try that again—if you want to try a bunch of free beer, then just be grateful for participating breweries.
The event began as equal parts incentive and invitation to visit Oregon breweries and sample ultra-fresh beer off a zwickel. A whatel? If we can all wrap our head around what a Wordle is, we should be extra excited about zwickels, because they're the valves that allow the contents of a fermentation tank to release a sample into your waiting glass. It's like being invited into a restaurant's kitchen to take a bite of your food to make sure you like it before they've even plated it.
This statewide hoppy holiday has recently bifurcated into a Portland-wide version (which was last Saturday) and a de facto Rest-of-Oregon version (this Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.). Use this opportunity to know your preferred spot more intimately or transfer new breweries from your Need-It list to your Got-It list.
Because not absolutely every brewery participates, it's recommended to check with any and all places where you may plan on zwickeling.
Deschutes Brewery will get into the scaled-down Zwickelmania spirit by celebrating at the OG Bond Street brewpub (and not at the Simpson Avenue brewhouse), pouring samples—Symphonic Chronic IPA, and Whiskey Butte Porter, which is the barrel-aged version of Black Butte—outside the front door. And, you'll soon note the theme, Deschutes is pairing beers with Girl Scout cookies. (Lemon-Ups with the IPA and Samoas with the porter).
At Deschutes subsidiary Boneyard Beer, a special firkin—a vessel of cask conditioned ale—will be brought out and there will be food specials. Given that the Boneyard brewing facility is now the Van Henion facility, the festivities are taking place at the independently-operated Boneyard Pub.
Bend Brewing Company once again feels flush with the Zwickelmania spirit by opening its top-secret production facility in Boyd Acres, meaning to get your zwickel on at BBC, do not head to the brewpub on NW Brooks Street. (That said, there will be Girl Scout cookie pairings at said pub!) Visitors to the super-secret facility can get tours led by brewers or just queue up for samples of Dank Commander IPA out of the fermenter. They'll also be popping some bottles from the vault such as Hypnotist Collector Barleywine and Daytime Black Imperial Stout.
That section of Boyd Acres is really brewery central. There's 10 Barrel Eastside, Bridge 99 and Craft Kitchen and Brewery, which will zwickel its luscious Granola Porter, pairing perfectly with smoked meats out of its kitchen.
Both Crux Fermentation Project and GoodLife Brewing are doing scaled-back versions, but given the crowds on a regular Saturday, my crystal ball predicts surges. Crux will zwickel number eight in its Aromatic Variance series of IPAs featuring experimental hop numbered 1019 (big tropical hit) as well as "pulling nails," brewery parlance for sampling barrel-aged beer straight from the barrel to test how it's coming on its oaken journey. GoodLife won't be pouring from the tank but will have samples available of its new Cherry Chocolate Stout. Additionally, they're holding a dock sale with steep discounts on cases of cans as well as barrel-aged bottled numbers. Look for happy hour prices all day long.
Cascade Lakes Brewing's Bend and Redmond pubs are giving away six-ounce pours of customer's choice since they aren't opening their actual brewery (also in Redmond). That said, the first 100 customers will get a free Cascade Lakes koozie and everyone can take a buck off all six-packs to go.
Wild Ride Brewing will zwickel folks on its Great American Beer Festival gold-medal winning Whoopty Whoop Hefeweizen—a style that deserves to reclaim more mainstream popularity—alongside the finished draft version for a true (and tasty) educational experience. Rounding out the Girl Scout cookie pairings, four such treats will be available.
Last but not Least, Sunriver Brewing will take Zwickelmania to heart by re-opening the production brewery in Sunriver with tours every half hour, samples of its incredible barrel-aged beers and discounts on to-go beers.