I’m glad to see Oregon has been keeping up with celebrating local and American beer during the month of July. The Brewers Association first promoted July as American Beer Month and encouraged events throughout the month, to mixed results. A couple of years ago, they quietly dropped it in favor of American Craft Beer Week in mid-May. And while I like the new May holiday, personally, I felt they abandoned American Beer Month too quickly without really giving it time to develop. Holidays normally take years and even decades to catch on. One that seeks to highlight a niche product in our society is bound to take even longer. That’s why I still continue to celebrate it each year, not that my lone voice will likely make any difference. Happily, the Oregon Brewers Guild, along with the support of the many beer enthusiasts in the state, have for three years made July Oregon Craft Beer Month. If we can’t have it nationally, at least we can have it in one of the best beers states in the union.
From the press release:
Oregon celebrates its profusion of good beer all year, but July is the state’s official Craft Beer Month. 2007 marks the 20th anniversary of the Oregon Brewers Festival from July 26th to 29th. This year’s festival features 74 beers from craft brewers around the country along with educational displays and live entertainment.
Soft, pure water cascades down from the mountains, aromatic hops spring from the valley’s fertile soils, and barley thrives on the high plains over on the state’s dryer eastern side. Oregon beers are truly local and incredibly delicious. The state’s brewers produce traditional styles from pale ales to dark stouts, but they’ve also pioneered new beer styles, created organic beers, and breathed new life into the typical American beer style with handcrafted lagers.
Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland provides the Willamette River and Mount Hood as backdrops for the Brewers Festival. At least 50,000 beer enthusiasts are expected at the Festival during its four-day run.
Other Craft Beer Month events include a beer and sausage fest, cheese pairings by the dean of American beer writers, Fred Eckhardt, an Oregon Brewers Guild barbecue featuring 24 special beers that you can’t get at the Brewers Festival, and a rousing parade of brewers strutting along Portland sidewalks to the beat of the March 4th Marching Band.
“We are proud to be the only state that has designated a special month to recognize our local craft brewers,” said Brian Butenschoen, Executive Director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. ”Beer is one of Oregon’s iconographic agricultural products and Oregon Craft Beer Month is a wonderful opportunity to stop and lift a glass to all the passion and success we have had here.”
America’s beer revival began in Oregon in the early 1980s, and the state, the second largest producer of craft beer in America, is home to 82 craft breweries. Portland has 29 breweries, more than any other city in the world. Industry pioneers such as BridgePort Brewing, Widmer Brothers, McMenamins and what is now Pyramid Breweries started in Portland. Full Sail Brewing, Deschutes Brewery and Rogue Ales also started in Oregon and now have regional, national and international distribution. Emerging breweries such as Terminal Gravity, Ninkasi and Cascade Lakes beers can be found all around the state and local breweries like Amnesia Brewing, Laurelwood Brewing and Roots Organic Brewing offer unique beers on tap at their neighborhood pubs.
Another big media coup surrounding the month-long festivities is a 16-pg. pullout in the Portland Oregonian. Co-edited by Lisa Morrison and Chris Crabb, with help from Don Younger and Brian Butenschoen (with the Oregon Brewers Guild) along with a handful of others. It was a special section of the newspaper and is also available online. It contains of wealth of information about Oregon beer and the various events going on throughout the state during the month of July.