Where the OBF is today is something of an enigma given the event's pedestrian beginnings. The story has been told before here and elsewhere. The first official OBF happened in 1988, when there was really nothing like it around. I say "official" because there was a precursor in 1987, when Art Larrance got Portland Brewing involved in supplying beer for Papa Aldo's Blues Festival. Once the taps were turned on, they ran continuously, perhaps suggesting craft beer needed a festival of its own.
|Before the masses arrived last year...|
The first OBF happened in July 1988. It was miniature next to what the event is today. There was a single tent and 22 breweries pouring something like 30 beers over two days. The plastic festival mug (the city did not want broken glass in the park) cost $1. Half a mug of beer was $1 and a full mug was $2. Logistical issues were rampant, largely the result of the fact that the expected crowd of 5,000 tripled to 15,000. They couldn't pour the beer fast enough.
|McMenamin's Hammerheads with the 2011 ceremonial first keg|
As we look ahead to the 25th rendition of the Oregon Brewers Festival next week, there are some significant details worth listing:
- There will be 82 breweries from 14 U.S. states pouring 84 beers
- Some 40 beer styles are represented...IPA being the most popular
- Kona traveled the most miles to get here: 2,600
- The highest alcohol beer is Positive Contact, by Dogfish Head, at 9%
- More than 2,000 volunteers make the festival possible
- A Buzz Tent will be pouring an as-yet unspecified number of specialty beers
- A Sour Tent will be serving an unspecified number of sour beers
- The average ABV this year is 6.2%, lower than year's past
- The event will inject more than $23 million into the local economy
|An awkward pour...from 2010|
For those who want some direction, I'll make some recommendations early next week. Picking beers to taste at the OBF is a bit of a slippery slope because there are so many good ones. I'll break my list down into several categories because that's how I like to taste. Check back next week for a cheat sheet.