OK, I’m sticking my neck way, way out. But I want folks to take a good look at what is happening here and in the rest of the U.S.A. The great beer districts of the world are no longer located only in Belgium, Germany and England! We are developing some fantastic new beer venues here in this country, and the U.S. has become (in Slow Food terms) the Ark of World Beer, preserving the best of the world’s great beer styles.
It is only fair to ask, “How did a relatively small/large city like Portland manage such numbers of brewers in a mere quarter century?”
Here in Portland, we have no less than 31 breweries and brewpubs within our city limits (a city of about 530,000), and if we allow the usual 40-km/25-mile stretch beyond those (pop. 750,000 plus), we have something like 47 brewers, producing close to 500 brands among the over 80 different beer styles we actually produce here (forget American Lager or American Light).
The great European brewing centers mostly produce a particular genre of beer. In London, there is a wide variety of wonderful pale and brown ales, porters and stouts. In Belgium, the beers include that country’s lambic or abbey styles, and in Southern Germany the pilsen/Bavarian style of lager beer dominates. Not so here among U.S. craft brewers, and that is especially true of Portland’s brewing community. There is tremendous stylistic diversity among our brewers and their products. These are all very individualistic brewers.
True, we make a number of fantastic India pale ales and what have come to be called “Imperial” or “double/triple strength” brews of many types; but so do most American brewing centers. Please note, I don’t want to denigrate the great brewers of New England, Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Wisconsin and certainly not our Colorado friends.
Our great Oregon beer festivals (and there are an increasing number of them appearing each year) feature some of our best brewing efforts. The Holiday Ale Fest (November-December), the Spring Beer Festival (March-April), the Oregon Brewers Festival (July), Portland Brewers Festival, Organic Brewer’s Festival (June, and nearly unique in the world of beer festivals) plus numerous small barleywine festivals appear annually. There was even an IPA festival here last year!
We call ourselves Beervana. That’s Beervana on the Willamette (the beautiful river that runs through downtown Portland). But to compare München am der Isar to Portland am der Willamette is akin to comparing apples to oranges and peaches to pears. We have many more beer styles right here in town than you’ll find in any of those great European brewing districts. We have good (not excellent) public transportation; but not in comparison with almost any city in Europe. So it is only fair to ask, “How did a relatively small/large city like Portland manage such numbers of brewers in a mere quarter century?”