Winter temperatures seem to have eased up a wee bit and a few brave beer lovers have been spotted around town at outdoor tables, with beanies snugly in place and mittened hands cupping their pints. It's just another reason why the whole world is seemingly envious of Portland, not only for our magnificent beer bounty, but our iron constitutions, as demonstrated by nearly year-round outdoor bar dwelling. And while it’s true the rainiest months of the year are yet to come, grey skies and still fairly brisk temps give us reason enough for now to hunker down and drink up indoors or, for the hardier souls among us, out.
News Item: By now, local brew believers have undoubtedly noticed the return of the Portland Brewing brand (formerly MacTarnahan's since 2004). It's a shrewd marketing move because it gives a much-needed regional identity boost to a brewery that began its life as Portland Brewing in 1986, founded by local beer pioneers Fred Bowman and Art Larrance. In addition to the brewery's flagship MacTarnahan's Amber Ale, expect to see some new titles under the Portland Brewing label, including an IPA, an oyster stout, and currently, a seasonal release called Rose Hip Gold. It's a tasty, easy drinking Belgian-style ale that we're hoping earns its way to fulltime status, because it's definitely a keeper.
News Item: Congratulations to Colin Rath and the good folks over at Migration Brewing for helping to open the doors to craft beer in a far-off land where, until recently, beer over 2.25 percent ABV was forbidden. Rath and his comrades head to Reykjavik, Iceland for the Annual Icelandic Beer Festival Feb 27–March 2, and if all goes well, perhaps we can add Iceland to the list of nations with a craving for the taste of Northwest ales. It would be awesome if Colin returns with enough photos for a slide show!
Old Lompoc Black Out Beer Fest
Friday, Feb 22, 4–11pm
Fifth Quadrant & Sidebar
Dark beer lovers, this brew's for you: Old Lompoc’s Black Out Beer Fest will feature a dozen of Lompoc’s own dark beers, along with guest taps from Breakside Brewing, Columbia River Brewing Co, and Widmer Brothers, as well as live music and food specials. And despite the name, it is not an enticement to attendees to consume until the arrival of unconsciousness. The Fest precedes the Seventh Annual Chowder Challenge on Feb 23, also at Lompoc’s Fifth Quadrant, a fundraising event for Portland’s Community Transitional School.
McMenamins 20th Annual Hillsdale Brewfest
Saturday Feb 23, all day
Hillsdale Brewery & Public House
Dust off your gavel and powdered wig, because at this brewfest you are the judge! Grab a table at McMenamin’s Hillsdale, order a tray of samples of this year’s nearly 20 beers vying for title of best McMenamins beer of the year, and cast your vote for your top three favs. Oh, and may the force be with you: Among the entries are three Star Wars inspired brews—Chewbaccan Stout, Jabba the Porter, and Dark Star CDA. Jedi knight-wannabe brewers aside, however, the best-named beer at this contest has got to go to Hot For Teacher IPA, hands down.
Lucky Lab Barleywine & Big Beer Fest
March 8–9, 12–10pm
$9 for two 4 oz. drink tickets + tasting glass
Barleywine is a style of beer known for its opulent taste, smooth drinking style, and dizzying alcohol content, closer to that of wine’s, hovering somewhere between 7-12 percent. Its origins are British, and it was really introduced to contemporary American beer drinkers in the 1970s with Anchor Steam’s beloved Old Foghorn. Each year Lucky Lab Brewing brings in some 40 barleywines for their Barleywine and Big Beer Fest. Winter is the time to enjoy barleywine’s substantial style and this year the line-up includes Anchor Steam’s latest version, as well as many others from Oregon, California, and beyond.
Pouring at the Coast Craft Beer Fest
March 15–16, Seaside Convention Center
Friday night Brewers Dinner, $50; Saturday tastings, $10-50, includes tasting tokens + souvenir glass. Food available Saturday.
This aptly-titled event reminds us that there may be no better time than late winter to take in the spectacle of the wind and waves on the Oregon coast, preferably while savoring a fortifying pint. Pouring at the Coast brings beer lovers together to taste dozens of craft beers from breweries around Oregon—including homebrews. A brewers dinner Friday night and special seminars from the group Women Enjoying Beer on Saturday are part of the program.
Double Mountain Sixth Anniversary Party
March 16, 11:30a–11pm
$5 admission; includes souvenir glass mug, kids welcome until 5pm
This year, Hood River's Double Mountain Brewery will kick it up a notch with all-girl AC/DC cover band Hell’s Belles. Trust us, beer and raucous rock is a righteous combination that can't be beat. Three bars will be dispensing two dozen different house ales and lagers, many of them from the brewers’ reserve stash. Pizza by the slice and sandwiches will be available to keep the revelers fueled.
Spring Beer & Wine Fest
March 29-30, $8 admission
Over 100 breweries, wineries, distilleries, restaurants, cheesemongers, and chocolatiers from all over the Northwest will be offering their wares at this mega fest, dubbed “A Taste of the West.” And it’s a great kickoff to spring drinking days ahead. Cheers!