Zwickelmania Hits Oregon this Saturday

An expected 100 breweries across the state will open their doors to the public for free tours and tastings at the event organized by the Oregon Brewers Guild.

By Nathan Tucker February 11, 2014

Get pumped, craft beer fans, day-drinking champions, and people who like free things: Zwickelmania is this Saturday.

But what the hell is a Zwickel, you might ask, and why does it deserve my mania? No, a Zwickle isn’t some frightening German torture device, nor is it the surname of an obscure Swiss composer of Romantic music.

Rather, it’s the name for the sampling valve on a fermentation tank, which explains why you should be so pumped.

From 11-4 pm this Saturday, an expected 100 breweries across the state will open their doors to the public for free tours and tastings. Organized by the Oregon Brewers Guild, the afternoon is a great chance to meet your favorite brewers, learn something about the brewing process, and taste beers in various stages of completion before they get bottled or kegged.

Any event as self-evidently awesome as this attracts some major boneheads, though. As any college kegger experience can attest, “Beer plus free” can result in some pretty obnoxious behavior. In that light, here are three common Zwickelmania attendees to keep away from (and to avoid becoming yourself):

  • The bored friend/girlfriend/boyfriend: This person doesn’t care about beer, will sniff warily and furrow their brow at the unfiltered, unfinished drink in their tasting cup, and will glaze over at the slightest mention of brewing techniques. They will be in your way, all afternoon.
  • The home-brewing showoff: This person will make a point of loudly asking esoteric brewing questions using vocabulary that ensures everyone knows of his home-brewing prowess. His beer probably tastes like fermented molasses.
  • The plastered disaster: This person has had one too many draws from the ol’ zwickel. They’ll cut in front of you in line, talk loudly over the tour leader, and will probably walk into you at some point. Don’t be the person who gets cut off at the free sample table.

Given only five hours and dozens of breweries in town, it’s inevitable that beer lovers citywide will attempt some ambitious itineraries. But by the fourth or fifth free tasting, you’re not in any condition to hop behind the wheel and speed off to the next stop on your list. So if you’re not into condemning a friend to be designated driver (see common Zwickelmania attendees to keep away from #1), you’ll be pleased to know that there are various festive transportation options available.

  • Kells Brewpub is sponsoring a free bus that takes riders to Kells and other NW Portland breweries, including Deschutes and Bridgeport.
  • A free party bus from Brewvana Brewery Tours will take riders to breweries across Portland, including Hopworks, Gigantic, Portland Brewing, Laurelwood, and Ecliptic.
  • A mere five greenbacks will score you all-day rides on any of Rogue’s three buses, traveling throughout inner SE and NW. 
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