Guest Post – Oregon Brewers Festival Review

14 Aug

Behold, the first GUEST POST on The Hops Honey blog! So, who is the lucky author?! It is none other than my kick-ass step-father, Timmy McKane!

Timmy and I sharing some Life & Limb at Dogfish Head!

My mom married Timmy when I was 13, and after I started getting into craft beer in my late 20s, so did Timmy… and we found yet another wonderful way to expand our ‘kid-parent’ relationship into a friendship!

Timmy & my mom (Sandy!) have been taking amazing 2-3 week summer vacations the past several years, while my younger sister is at sleep-away camp, and while in past years they have gone to Europe, this year they went cross-country via Amtrak, & at one point [conveniently] ended up in Portland, Oregon while the Oregon Brewers Festival was taking place!

Naturally, I asked Timmy if he would do a guest post on his experience there… so what follows is his review of the festival! Enjoy!



I’m honored to have been asked to guest write a post for the lovely Hops Honey.  During my West Coast trip this summer, I had the luck to be able to attend the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, a city with a great craft beer history and distinction.

The event was the 25th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival, one of the longest running brew festivals in the United States, held every year on the last weekend of July, beginning on Thursday with a parade and the ceremonial tapping of the first keg. Held in beautiful Tom McCall Waterfront Park, it featured over eighty craft breweries from around the country, demonstrations on home brewing, live music, and vendors of food and beer paraphernalia.

Although entrance to the festival is free, a souvenir mug for tasting cost $6.00, and wooden tokens for 3 ounce tastes cost $1.00 – four tokens will get an attendee a 14 ounce beer from any of the breweries.

So, with a mug in my hand, and twenty tokens in my pocket, away I went.  I made the conscious choice, a few weeks in advance, to visit only the Oregon breweries, and only ones whose products I’d never tried. Full Sail, Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Rogue products, I find in Upstate New York, for example. Additionally, I had the opportunity to have dinner at the Bridgeport Brewing Company, in Portland, during my stay, so its product did not make the list. Also, I have a leaning for BIG taste in my beers, so IPAs, strong ales, and pale ales were musts – with 80 brewers at the festival, I had many to choose from.

My selections were:

Caldera Brewing Company, Caldera Hop Hash (an American-Style Strong Pale Ale) Brewery, Armory XPA (an American Style Strong Pale Ale) Brewing Company, Dynomite! Imperial IPA Gravity Brewing, XIPA John Barleycorn’s, Free Will IPA Mountain Brew House, Tan Line (a summer IPA)


The best way to describe this event is “controlled chaos”.


Imagine 10,000 beer drinkers, all with bar-voice, live music, and over eighty queues in front of each of the represented breweries, under a number of different tents, that seemed to have no logic for brewery or beer style. As I was in line for my first taste, at Terminal Gravity Brewing, about a twenty minute wait, I met Stephen, who had been a volunteer server at the festival from its third annual through last year, deciding he wanted to be an attendee this year.  He told me that the organization had gotten better in previous years, actually. The goal, he said, was to not sample all I wanted in one day, but to come for a few hours each day. Explaining I was only here for the one day, Saturday, he smiled and wished me luck.

Making friends in line for more beer

With that advice, I realized that my best bet was to peruse the handy map and guide given to me as I entered, and rank the choices. I gave myself two hours, and, as it was, I was able to visit five of the six brewers on my list, missing out on the Fire Mountain Brew House sampling.

In spite of the chaotic feel of the event, I found that the craft beer appreciators were not in attendance for mere revelry, although there was that, but more so, were there as educated drinkers who really had a sense of the craft brewing world. Many were taking notes about their drinks, or having serious conversations about qualities of the products they were sampling. I was particularly impressed by the number of younger people, in that 25 to 35 year-old range, who really had a sense of brewing and the qualities that they found intriguing in the beers they had sampled. This was true for both men and women.  Some of these attendees found themselves on the receiving end of the tokens I did not use by my day’s end.

Some great t-shirts were walking around

Were there drunks among us? Yes. But I’d say, from my vantage point, most people were sincere and mostly sober, enjoying their drinking experiences.

I’d highly recommend visiting the Oregon Brewers Festival, but do so taking Stephen’s advice – expect to spend a few days if you’d like to really explore the fine craft beers that the Northwest has to offer.


While reading about an awesome beer festival in one of the best beer cities in the US that you [*I*] didn’t get to go to can sometimes feel like salt to a wound… I more so think it’s fun to hear first-hand experiences about festivals near & far, where everyonne is sharing in the craft beer-love!! Thank you SO much to Timmy for sharing his eperiences with us!

I also love that he wore his Ommegang shirt to the festival, representing our local brewery – Timmy & my mom live in Oneonta, NY, which is only 30 minutes from Cooperstown! The other thing that was SO “Timmy” in this write-up, was how he gave his extra tokens to some fellow attendees! It really is true that happiness, sharing, and fun abound in the craft beer community!

Were you at the Oregon Brewers Festival as well?! If so… did you see Timmy?? 😉


** FYI, historically, my mom and I have been the only ones to call him Timmy… to everyone else, he’s Tim… but I can’t call him anything BUT Timmy! **

One Response to “Guest Post – Oregon Brewers Festival Review”

  1. Beausant August 14, 2012 at 3:16 PM #

    Great guest report! It’s so nice to hear positive family stories- very cool!

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