Getting Started at OBF….. the Buzz Tent


The Oregon Brew Fest kicked off this morning and runs through the weekend (as if you didn’t know.)

Standing by the Buzz Tent I’ve heard a lot of “What is the buzz tent?” So here you go.

The Buzz Tent features an assortment of beer outside of the standard taps at OBF. The beers are generally a little more unique, smaller batch offerings such as the Quad belgian from Deschutes, the barleywine from Maui Brewing and the Pinot barrel aged strong ale from Oakshire.

Of course these beers don’t come cheap, they are 2 tokens instead of 1 for a taste. Nevertheless, given the unique selection offered at the Buzz Tent, I recommend you at least sample a few from here.

Portland’s Spring Beer AND Wine Fest

I’ve been in Portland for six years and somehow, I’ve never been to the Spring Beer and Wine Fest at the Convention Center… well that all ends today!

So what exactly am I walking into? According to the festival’s Website, there will be more than 80 beers, 30 wineries, local spirit makers, a curious and diverse food selection and cheese and chocolate. The festival press release also states there will also be “a global shopping marketplace, cooking demonstrations and educational seminars on the Chef’s Stage, and live music featuring Northwest bands including Keegan Smith & the Fam.” 

This year the festival is hosting a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). At the MDA booth you can purchase a 14 oz. beer or a 4 oz. pour of wine for $5. The beer and wines at the MDA booth are not available at the regular festival booths.

Spring Beer and Wine

The festival has a people’s choice award, so be sure to vote for your favorite festival beers as well. Astoria Brewing’s Bitter Bitch was winner the last two years, so we’ll see if they can make it three in a row.

The fest runs from noon – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 2 & 3.  If you’re cheap like me, show up during the first two hours and get your $5 admission waived. Costs are pretty standard, $5 admission, $5 taster cup and tasting token are $1 each.

Be sure to check in with us on Twitter @BSBrewing for live updates from the festival.

Beer Tours: Breweries and Brew Pubs in Eugene

In February Dave and I were invited by Travel Lane County to Eugene and Springfield to meet with local brewers and sample many great beers coming out of the area.

After a night at the KLCC Microbrew Fest and some sampling of the local bar scene, we started our day at the Broadway Inn where as you can see, all the classy out-of-town brewers stay. I also recommend the hotel’s neighbor, Burrito Boy, to satisfy your stomach after last call.

Broadway Inn

Hop Valley Brewing

Our first stop was Hop Valley Brewing in Springfield.  You couldn’t miss the giant sign right off of I-5 and the Gateway Mall.

Hop Valley

The location has quite a local history. Prior to producing beers for Hop Valley, the building and the 15-barrel system was home to Spencer’s Butte Brewpub and where the first Ninkasi beers were made.

Hop Valley fermenters

Open for one year, Hop Valley makes a wide variety of styles including the DD Blonde, 541 Lager, Step Child Red, a Vanilla Porter and, where they really excel, the Alphadelic IPA and the Alpha Centauri Imperial IPA.

Hop Valley Sampler

Stay in touch with Hop Valley on Twitter and Facebook.


Our next stop was Ninkasi. Our trip was during Zwickelmania and Ninkasi’s new tasting room was packed. The purple shirted clan was a “drinking club” named the Royal Drunks and some members certainly lived up to at least half of their name. The tasting room is open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.

Ninkasi Tasting Room

Head brewer Jamie Floyd led us on a tour of the brewery and showed us where the brewery will be expanding. Ninkasi’s growth is explosive. They started on a 15-barrel system at what is now Hop Valley, opened the brewery with a 20-barrel system and are now up to a 30-barrel system. Last year the company produced 19,500 barrels and estimates 32,000 barrels in 2010.

Ninkasi Expansion

Helping fuel that growth, Ninkasi is now available at all Safeways and most Costcos in Oregon.  Total Domination is the company’s top seller, accounting for 60 percent of their total sales.

Total Domination cases

Information from Ninkasi can also be found on Twitter and Facebook

Oakshire Brewing

Our day concluded at Oakshire Brewing which is growing at a significant rate as well. In 2006 the company started on a 4-barrel system as Willamette Brewing.  They are now up to a 16-barrel system and took production from 300 barrels in 2007 to 2,000 barrels in 2009. Built for growth, they have the capacity to produce 7,500 barrels and are aiming for 3,600 in 2010.


Brewer Matt Van Wyk was our host for the day and seeing as how it was Zwickelmania, he poured us a couple of tastes from the fermenters. Most notable was the 2-day old O’Dark:30 that to the surprise of everyone was already tasting great.Tasting from the Zwickel

Oakshire’s biggest sellers are the Watershed IPA and the Overcast Espresso Stout. The stout features cold pressed espresso from local roaster Wandering Goat that is added to the beer as it is being transferred from the fermenter to the brite tank.

Oakshire Espresso Stout

You can find out more straight from Oakshire by checking them out on Twitter  and Facebook.

Next stop… Corvallis.

KLCC Microbrew Festival in Eugene

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.

KLCC Brewfest

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.


Dave in his quest to drink 999 different beers over 999 days reviewed Ninkasi’s entry here.

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…