A road trip to Beervana
In a chapter of his 2004 book, “Travels with Barley,” Ken Wells wrote of visiting Portland, Oregon, or as he discovered it was known, “Beervana.” A Wall Street Journal editor and writer at the time, Wells wrote of the enormous variety of craft beer available in the state from its 71 microbreweries and brewpubs and of how craft beer represented 40 to 50 percent of all beer sales in Portland.
Six years later, Beervana has grown. The Oregon Brewers Guild lists nearly 150 breweries and brewpubs on its website, and beer road trippers still consider the Pacific Northwest state as a kind of a mecca for craft beer lovers.
On Saturday, May 15, many of those breweries will be present at the eighth annual Sasquatch Brewfest in Eugene, a town of 155,000 at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about 50 miles east of Oregon’s Pacific coast.
But this festival will be so much more than beer tasting. There will also be a home brew contest, administered by the Cascade Brewers Society, a Eugene-based beer club. Live music from local bands and food from area restaurants will be featured. And some of the proceeds from the festival will go to help novice brewers further their craft.
The festival will move inside this year to the ballroom of the Eugene Hilton, 66 E. Sixth Ave. For beer road trippers not staying at the hotel, the local public transportation system LTD offers a free one-day pass to get to and from the beer festival.
On the night before, organizers will present the Sasquatch Beer Fest Beer Dinner, which will pair select cuisine with craft beer. It will also be held at the Hilton. The bar opens Friday at 6 p.m. and dinner courses will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 for the dinner, and you can check out the menu and buy tickets here.
An unusual aspect of this festival is that it “pays it forward” in helping to develop new craft brewers’ talents. Produced by the Northwest Legends Foundation, the nonprofit Sasquatch Brew Fest provides proceeds to the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation to pay for two professional brewing scholarships to worthy candidates each chosen by a committee. The scholarships pay for the World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute in Chicago.
The Sasquatch Brew Fest is dedicated to the memory of Glen Hay Falconer, a well-known and leading Pacific Northwest professional brewer. Falconer was the skilled and popular head brewer at the Wild Duck Brewery in Eugene until his passing in 2002.
Oh, and the beer.
Organizers say they will try to post a list on the website within a week, but John “Chewie” Burgess, president of the Northwest Legends Foundation says there will be at least 55 to 60 breweries representing. Among the sponsors are Oakshire Brewing, Rogue, Hop Valley Brewing Co. and Ninkasi Brewing, so you know there will be some good beer flowing at this festival.
If you plan on making a road trip for beer to Eugene during this festival, be sure to check out the Sasquatch Brew Fest website for more information and to purchase tickets.
Golfers also may want to check out the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation Brew Am Golf Tournament scheduled for Friday, July 23, in Troutdale, Oregon, a tourney that will help raise more money for the scholarship fund and that will help kick off the Oregon Brewers Festival on July 22-25 in Portland.