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Oregon Brewers Festival celebrates milestone, toasts 30 years of commemorating craft beer

Thirty years ago, in 1988, there were a mere seven craft breweries in Oregon, and only 128 in America. All were invited to take part in the inaugural Oregon Brewers Festival, a two-day event billed as “the first gathering and exhibit of independent brewers in the United States.” This summer, the Oregon Brewers Festival will celebrate its 30th annual event; now a five-day affair, the festival will run from July 26 through July 30 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland.

Portland – aka Beervana – is currently the #1 large metro area for beer tourism, according to Travelocity’s first Beer Tourism Index, so it’s no surprise the Oregon Brewers Festival is also a considered a destination. An estimated 80,000 people annually travel from all parts of the world to drink up what the festival has to offer.

The main festival serves 84 beers from craft breweries across the nation (each brewery serves one product). This year, the festival is reviving its popular Specialty Tent, where participating brewers send one-off kegs of rare, bold, and experimental beers. Festival attendees can try another 50+ rotating craft beers in the Specialty Tent throughout the duration of the festival.

The Oregon Brewers Festival offers a wide variety of beer styles, ranging from Belgians to braggots, cream ales to coffee beers, goses to gluten free, pales to Pilsners, radlers to reds, and saisons to stouts. The complete list of participating breweries will be announced by March 1 on the festival website. The event also features live music, food booths, craft vendors and homebrew demonstrations.

The Oregon Brewers Festival is not a ticketed event, and it is free to enter the festival grounds. In order to taste beer, the purchase of a 14 oz. souvenir tasting mug from the current year is required, which costs $7. Beer is purchased with wooden tokens, which cost $1 apiece. Patrons pay five tokens for a full mug of beer, or one token for a taste. The purchase of mugs and tokens is made on-site. The event is cash-only, with eight ATMs located on-premise.

The Oregon Brewers Festival encourages responsible drinking and urges patrons to take Tri-Met; the MAX Light Rail has a station one block from the main festival entrance. Alternately, attendees who ride their bikes can park them for free in the Hopworks Urban Brewery secure bike corral. For those who bring a designated driver, the Crater Lake Soda Garden provides complimentary handcrafted soda (no mug purchase required). Minors, who are allowed into the event all hours when accompanied by a parent, also receive free Crater Lake Soda.

The Oregon Brewers Festival was founded in 1988 as an opportunity to expose the public to microbrews at a time when the craft brewing industry was just getting off the ground. Today, that industry has flourished, with nearly 5,000 craft breweries in America, according to the Brewer’s Association. The economic impact of the Oregon Brewers Festival on the local economy is annually more than $30 million.

Gates open at 11:30am daily, and taps are open from Noon to 9pm Wednesday through Saturday, and Noon to 7pm Sunday. For more information visit OregonBrewFest.com or follow Facebook.com/OregonBrewersFestival and @OregonBrewfest on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.


Oregon Brewers Festival Specialty Tent

The Oregon Brewers Festival has featured an International Brewers Tent for the past three years, which allowed foreign brewers to showcase their beers to US consumers while allowing the brewers to meet and brew with Oregon brewers. The experiment was successful in bringing brewers to Oregon for first-hand experiences and to view our local craft beer revolution. For 2017, our 30th year, we will be shelving the International Brewers Tent and instead inviting all participating brewers to bring their unusual and one-off beers for a Specialty Beer Tent. We hope to work with local government agencies to assist in bringing in more international brewers to future events. Cheers!

2016 Oregon Brewers Festival Generates $29.3 Million for Local Economy

A recently completed study estimates the economic impact of the 2016 Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) at $29.3 million.

Jeff Dense, Professor of Political Science and Craft Beer Studies at Eastern Oregon University, and a team of students administered 901 on-site interviews between July 27 and July 30, 2016.

The study utilized IMPLAN (IMpact Analysis for PLANning) data and software package to estimate the economic impact of the Oregon Brewers Festival on Multnomah County. The 2016 OBF generated an estimated $18.9 million in direct, $5.5 million in indirect (additional input purchases made by local businesses) and $4.9 million in induced (expenditures by employees from wages paid by companies in direct contact with tourists) economic impact. The $29.3 million economic impact for the 2016 Oregon Brewers Festival constituted a 3% decrease from the 2015 edition of the event.

Respondents were queried on a range of demographic factors, along with estimates of expenditures in tourism-related categories, including transportation, lodging, meals, gasoline purchases, non-beer related recreation, beer purchased to take home, expenditures at the festival grounds and retail purchases.

Two of the most significant findings unearthed by the study are the number of women (44.2%) attending the 2016 Oregon Brewers Festival, along with a significant increase in the percentage of out-of-town visitors obtaining vacation rental lodging while attending OBF (20.2%, an 84% increase from 2015).

“Women are the key to the future of the craft beer industry,” Dense said, adding, “The lodging industry should take heed to the increasing number of cost conscious visitors who are availing themselves of the vacation rental lodging market while attending craft beer festivals.”

Other findings of the study include:

• Visiting OBF patrons spent an average of $561.
• Nearly half (44.5%) of attendees were out-of-town visitors.
• Visitors from Washington (12.1%) and California (11.2) were highly prevalent at OBF.
• Accommodations ($9.5 million) accounted for the largest share of OBF patron expenditures, followed by the food and drink industry ($7.6 million).
• Half (49.6%) of patrons were attending OBF for either the first or second time.
• OBF generated $1.7 million in indirect business taxes for state and local government.


Video with OBF Founder Art Larrance

Watch and listen to our founder, Art Larrance, as he talks to Portland Beer Stories about his history with craft brewing in Oregon: Click Here.


Free Rogue Shuttle Bus

Rogue Ales & Spirits offers a free shuttle bus that runs during festival hours on a continuous loop from OBF to Rogue Distillery & Public House Portland on Flanders; Rogue Hall near PSU; Horse Brass Pub; PDX Green Dragon; and back to the Festival. One loop takes about an hour, pickup is across Naito from the Pine St entrance.

No Smoking in Portland Parks

The Portland City Council passed a total smoking ban in city parks in 2015, so smoking is NOT allowed at the Oregon Brewers Festival. This includes both tobacco and marijuana. If you need help with quitting, please visit QuitDay.org which works to reduce the number of people who smoke when they drink; the Quit Smoking Community; and the American Cancer Society, which supports a tobacco-free lifestyle.


 
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