Portland isn’t shy about its love of beer — the city has nearly as many beer festivals as it does breweries. And with beer festivals all over the calendar, the city has thirst-quenching events year-round. Belly up to some of Beervana’s biggest annual suds celebrations:
Held over President’s Day weekend by the the Oregon Brewers Guild, Zwickelmania is a statewide tasting event with more than 80 breweries across Oregon — and more than 40 in the Portland metropolitan area — opening their doors and offering free tastings and food pairings to visitors. Brewer-led discussions and tours give visitors a unique backstage pass to some of the world’s best craft breweries and free shuttle buses ensure safe sipping.
Spring Beer & Wine Festival
Sampling, seminars, and chefs take over the Oregon Convention Center in late March or early April, teaching the masses about pairing beverages with everything from cheese to chocolate, with every course in between. Brewers from all over the West Coast, including Ninkasi, Fort George Brewery and Widmer Brothers, flock to the Spring Beer & Wine Festival, pouring rare beers and perennial favorites.
The Portland Mercury brings together Portland’s best brews and bands for a rocking weekend featuring one-of-a-kind craft beers and live performances by local bands at the annual Malt Ball. This two-day affair at the Wonder Ballroom is the either the best-sounding beer festival or the best-tasting musical festival out there.
Portland Beer Week
A celebration of the local craft brewing scene, the 11-day Portland Beer Week (because seven days cannot contain Portland beer) collection of events is packed full of tastings, festivals, parties and educational events, all over town. Highlights include:
Fruit Beer Festival
A weekend-long, street fair-style outdoor festival at the Central Eastside’s Burnside Brewing, the Fruit Beer Festival features more than 40 refreshing, well-crafted fruit beers from 25 Oregon brewers. The only festival of its kind, the event celebrates the wonderful, creative and uniquely crafted fruit beers of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Rye Beer Fest
A celebration of the revival of rye beers, the Rye Beer Festival features at least 20 special collaboration brews from 19 different breweries, backed by some great food and live entertainment, all at Southeast Portland bar EastBurn.
North American Organic Brewers Festival
Designed to raise awareness about organic beer and sustainable living, the North American Organic Brewers Festival serves up more than 50 organic beers, from summery Saison and Kolsch styles to rich and hearty stouts. Held in scenic Overlook Park, a sunny spot with great views of the downtown cityscape, the weekend-long gathering marks the start of Portland’s summer and pairs ales with eco-friendly ideals by serving all-organic beers and ciders in compostable drinking glasses, with a supervised bike corral, organic food and other sustainable vendors.
Oregon Craft Beer Month
As summer kicks into full swing, July is designated Oregon Craft Beer Month, with more than 500 events in 60 cities toasting the state’s suds with tastings, pairings, tappings, new releases and other special events, all leading up to the granddaddy of beer festivals, the annual Oregon Brewers Festival.
Featuring brews that range from “slightly funky” and “tart and fruit” to “mouthpuckeringly sour,” Puckerfest has established itself as one of the most popular events during Oregon Craft Beer Month. Adventurous beer lovers can sample from a rotating cast of more than 30 rotating sours, and enjoy numerous “Meet the Brewer” nights where beermongers share stories about their favorite creations, all at Southeast Portland bottle shop Belmont Station.
Portland International Beer Festival
Drawing more than 150 brews from at least 15 countries to a beer garden setting in the Pearl District’s North Park Blocks, the Portland International Beer Festival puts Beervana on the map, letting locals punch their passport with worldly offerings like barrel-aged strong ales, barley wines, sours, imperial stouts, farmhouse ales and double IPAs.
Oregon Brewers Festival
Held in the last full weekend of July for more than 25 years, the Oregon Brewers Festival brings more than 80 craft brews to Portland for a four-day brewfest, the largest gathering of its kind in North America. One of the country’s longest-running and best-loved craft beer festivals, the event is situated in downtown’s Waterfront Park, on the banks of the Willamette River, and attracts scores of award-winning beers, live music, food vendors, beer memorabilia, homebrewing demonstrations every year.
Deschutes Brewery Street Fare
A distinctly Portland party, the Deschutes Brewery Street Fare fills the block adjacent to the Pearl District’s Deschutes Brewery with food carts, local bands and, of course, beer — curated to pair with the food cart offerings. Proceeds of the summer evening fest benefit the Meals on Wheels People.
The world’s only bike-in Oktoberfest, Biketobeerfest is all about pints and pedaling. Four live bands, breakdancing, organic beer tastings, BMX stunt teams, bike-building demos, food, games (for both adults and kids), a climbing wall and a whole list of other activities fill the day at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Don’t miss their most noted tradition, the “Huffy Huck” — a contest (with men’s and women’s divisions) to see who can throw an old bike the furthest.
It almost goes without saying that “Munich on the Willamette” celebrates Oktoberfest with gusto. Though Oregon’s largest celebration is about an hour south of the city in Mount Angel, where thousands have been celebrating since 1966, there is plenty of German beer-fair fun to be had in the Portland. Local, neighboring German restaurants, Der Rheinlander and Gustav’s, have their own annual Oktoberfest celebration, as do the city’s most prominent German bar, Prost, Oaks Amusement Park and Widmer Brothers Brewing.
Fresh Hops Festival
“Fresh hop” beers – those made with hops picked in the previous 24 hours – are difficult or impossible to make for breweries in drier climates. But at least 75 of Oregon’s breweries lie within 100 miles of hop fields, making the state the epicenter of “fresh hop” beer production. Portland revels in its proximity to hop heaven with an annual celebration of more than 25 bright, earthy, pleasantly bitter brews at Oaks Amusement Park.
Holiday Ale Festival
Held under the city’s holiday tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square, the five-day Holiday Ale Festival features more than 50 of the Pacific Northwest’s best seasonal suds, all bracing winter ales designed to fend off the cold chill of a long winter’s night. With a reputation as the premier winter beer-tasting event on the West Coast, the gathering keeps attendees warm and dry under a large clear-top tent that provides cover while allowing for views of the city lights.