Several accomplished beer writers (John Foyston, Lisa Morrison and Abram Goldman-Armstrong), bloggers (Portland Beer) and somehow BS Brewing were invited by Travel Oregon and Travel Lane County to visit Eugene for the KLCC Microbrew Festival and spend Zwickelmania with local brewers.
I give this fest high marks, more than 50 breweries and 110 beers, a homebrew competition, vendors selling classic vinyl records, live music and a People’s Choice Award (won by Hop Valley’s Alpha Centauri). The lines and crowd were very manageable, hardly waited more than 30 seconds for a fill and it’s a pretty standard $1 ticket per taste and your $12 admission gets you an actual glass taster. Proceeds benefit the listener-supported station.
Definitely the most interesting aspect of the festival was the inclusion of a collaboration brew, where participating brewers each developed their take on a (get this…) Belgian Style Cascadian Dark Rye Ale. In the description of the beer below they used the phrase “Because we can,” perhaps because some said “Oh no, you didn’t?” Overall, I think each of the beers suffered from being a bit of an over-engineered concept, any two of the three (Cascadian Dark, rye malt, Belgian yeast) would have been fine, but all three together created some odd flavors regardless of the skill of the brewer making the beer. A good thing to remember is just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Aside from the collaboration brew, there were handful of seasonals but most brought beers that are available in some form here in Portland. That didn’t crush our enthusiasm for seeking out old favorites like Maui Brewing’s IPA and breweries we’ve never tried such as Wakonda Brewing’s Imperial Pilsner.
As our Twitter post summed it up that night, it’s like a mini-GABF but instead of beer geeks there are college girls and old hippies. I would definitely recommend checking the festival out in future years, either on its own if you’re in the area or as a part of of a beer weekend to check out the all great breweries in the area.
More on our Zwickelmania trips later…