I may be prejudiced, but the Portland area is shaping up to produce some of the best beers and brewers in the world. Our pubs are interesting and well managed. They often serve a wide-ranging selection of draft craft beers, accompanied by good food. Craft beer sells well in these parts, with sales in the 11-percent range (as compared to the national craft-beer market share of 3.4 percent sales), and those sales have grown at something like 10 percent in the last year. Moreover, mega-brewer sales here have fallen off at even higher ratios than the average national rate.
“The sponsors of that first festival were astounded when 10,000 people descended on Portland’s Waterfront Park. Last year, some 53,000 beer enthusiasts swarmed over the park for four days, as part of Oregon Beer Week’s festivities.”
The best time to visit Portland is during the last week of July. That’s Oregon Beer Week, starting Saturday, July 22nd and culminating with the Oregon Brewers Festival, which is held Thursday, July 27th through Sunday, July 30th. These events will be held at Portland’s beautiful downtown waterfront park, located between the Burnside and Morrison Bridges on the Willamette River. Our town has some 26 (of Oregon’s 87) breweries and brewpubs inside its city limits—more than any other place on the planet.
This year will be the 19th running of the Oregon Brewers Festival, which was established in 1988 as the first exhibit of independent small brewers ever held (the city’s then-popular mega-brewer Blitz-Weinhard was not invited). Twenty-two of America’s smallest and finest craft brewers were on-hand to present 49 of their best efforts, to the delight of Portland beer lovers. The brewers represented a good percentage of the approximately 100 “micro” brewers that were active in the U.S. at that time. Nineteen of them remain today, as part of the 1400 currently in production.
The sponsors of that first festival were astounded when 10,000 people descended on Portland’s Waterfront Park to enjoy that first three-day gathering. Last year, some 53,000 beer enthusiasts swarmed over the park for four days, as part of Oregon Beer Week’s eight days of festivities. The 72 breweries invited included 12 of those original 22! (For more info on the Oregon Brewers Festival, visit www.oregonbrewfest.com.)
For visitors to Portland, the beer events are many and varied, and our fine public transportation system (free in downtown’s “Fareless Square”) allows one to wander about, avoiding the dreaded drinking-and-driving problems so common in our society. The 70-odd breweries (supplying one beer each) invited will suffice, but the reader may wish to expand his or her range, as we shall point out.