This is an update........wow...what a blast. I wrote to each invidual brewery but this is what I wrote to the Oregon Brewers Guild....
I would like to tell you what a great time we had at Zwicklemania yesterday in Portland. My wife said she was booking at weekend in Portland for Valentines Day and I was looking around for something to do during the day. I was thrilled when I found there was a statewide brewery festival. I am not sure how thrilled my wife was
..anyway it was one of the main reasons we confirmed our reservations and made sure to take part. I just started homebrewing about a year ago and am very interested to speak with people in the know and get tips from those that are doing this for a living. We were staying downtown next to Macys so it was nice there was the Rogue Farm bus doing the route. We went down to the Rock Bottom Brewery to catch it, although it was 30 minutes late, the driver who was very nice had mapquest directions from brewery to brewery and didnt know where he was half the time. I thought we could just take the bus up to Lucky Labrador and hoof it from there.
This gave us a chance to try beers and see breweries that in some cases I hadnt even heard of. Each brewery was a different yet great experience. And to boot, we got to meet and hang out with Kurt Widmer.
Lucky Labrador Beer Hall A very nice brewery with some great food. I sampled their 5 Ton Lager (8.8%) and one of their Alt style both of which were very good. They didnt really have any specials and the bartender knew very little about the festival but their brewery tour was informative and the brewmaster was more than willing to answer any and all questions. I would definitely go back.
Bridgeport Brewery A great facility and they were very good about offering tours on the half hour b/c of the number of people that were coming in. I tried their Ropewalk Amber and that is probably the finest Amber I have ever had. Our tour guide was the cellarmaster Todd Fleming and it was very interesting to know about the sustainability of the brewing and their seemingly zero footprint. We got a pull of the Zwickle and was very happy with the whole experience.
Rogue Brewery It was a zoo, totally packed. They were having their garage sale and I picked up a growler for $2 (twist cap). It was so busy that we didnt try to get a beer and figured we would start walking in the direction of Widmer.
Upright Brewery This was across the bridge and by the Rose Garden. B/c they are located on the lower level their name wasnt visible from the outside but we found some people who led us there. A great little brewery with some really cool equipment (open fermenters). The gentleman we talked with was very knowledgeable and they had copious samples. They mainly brew saissons, which isnt my particular favorite style, but they had a few that were remarkable for that style.
Widmer Brewery We then walked up to Widmer. A huge impressive facility. Actually before I knew about the festival I made a tour reservation there. I was then called back a week later and was told that they wouldnt be holding their regular tours but instead an open house. The representative said he didnt know if there would be samples available and offered to send me a $10 gift card to the brewpub. When we arrived Kurt Widmer was the one checking IDs and welcoming everyone. Before you got on the tour they handed you a beer and some food. Amazing. The tour began at their grain silo and then the mash tun and boiler. Then more beer. We then saw the massive fermenters, and there was more beer. We saw their kegging area and was offered another sample. We then saw the packaging area and quality control. It was an over the top tour and we got photos with the brothers. A great experience. We then hit the brewpub for a few hefes and some food.
Once again, thank you for sponsoring such a great festival and we are already making plans to meet friends from Idaho and Florida to partake next year.