Oregon’s beer culture is recognized nationwide, including sustainable brewing, award-winning craft brews, and one-of-a-kind microbreweries and gastropubs. Portland often ranks as best beer city in America, and craft brew capital of the world. We’ve got plenty of award-winning breweries to prove it, too.
Much of our success in the beer world can be credited to accessibility. The Willamette Valley’s fertile agricultural basin (one of the top domestic producers of hops) along with crystal clear water from the Cascade Mountain Rivers, offer plenty of fresh ingredients to brew sensational craft beer.
February is when our local suds scene really shows off as we celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month with exciting events and unique beer releases throughout the state.
Here are a few ways you can experience and celebrate Oregon’s craft beer culture this month.
Try a New Style
If you feel stuck in a beer rut, or just want to expand your palate, February is the perfect time to try a new style. Here are a few suggestions from our experts.
Drawing inspiration from Franco-Belgian tradition, sours range from mild and slightly sweet beers, like Lindeman’s, to super tarts, like Cantillon Vigneronne. Tart sours pair well with a variety of foods and are more like a wine than your traditional American Lager. Lucky for us, Oregon has some of the best producers of these styles. Market of Choice Beer and Wine Sales Manager, Steve recommends trying classics like Little Beast, Ruse, De Garde, The Ale Apothecary, Alesong, and Block 15.
Porters and Stouts
The colder months are perfect for indulging in dark ales such as Porters and Stouts. The difference between the two styles is in the treatment of the malt. A Stout has roasted malts which create coffee flavors, whereas a Porter does not have roasted malt, giving it a more complex profile.
Ecliptic Brewing in Portland offers a range of beer styles, but if you haven’t had their Stouts, you’re definitely missing out. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the Sedna Tiramisu Stout is a must-try. Brewed with vanilla, coffee and chocolate, this super dark beer is the perfect nightcap.
Alesong Brewing & Blending offers a delicious, barrel-aged imperial milk stout they call Coconut Rhino Suit. This stout is aged in freshly-emptied Heaven Hill bourbon barrels to add flavors of vanilla and caramel to the sweet bourbon-like notes. Then, adding toasted coconut, they elevate this decadent, Oregon craft beer to dessert status.
If you’re typically a dark ale lover, now is a good time to let loose and try Oregon’s specialty brew, IPA. India Pale Ale, or IPA, is a style of beer that capitalizes on hop flavors and aromas, and should always be served fresh. Most U.S. hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, which is why Oregon is particularly adept at brewing this style. If you’re new to IPA’s, we recommend a light bodied brew, like Sunriver Brewing’s Bondi Beach Party. More dedicated hop heads will enjoy Sunriver Brewing’s classic West Coast IPA, or Something Dank (This Way Comes).
Attend an Event
Oregon offers a few annual beer festivals designed to educate and entertain the public. Here are some of our favorites this month.
KLCC Brewfest February 10, 5:00 pm – February 11, 11 pm.
The KLCC Brewfest tasting event features 80 breweries from the West Coast and beyond. They will be serving 200 craft brews and ciders. Attendees will also enjoy collaboration brews, KLCC Eugene beer garden, Homebrew Competition, and live entertainment. Interested parties are welcome to purchase tickets online or at the door at 796 W. 13th Ave, Eugene.
Zwickelmania February 25/12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
During the annual Zwickelmania event, Oregon Brewers Guild member breweries open their doors and invite the public in for a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process. This year, interested parties are welcome to tour the Redmond brewery on 332 SW 5th Street Redmond. They will be offering a complimentary beer and cookie pairing during the event.
Hillsbrew Festival February 24-26
The annual Hillsbrew Festival is a 3-day event hosting 30 Oregon brewers from all over the state, and offering a wide variety of beer styles. Rumor has it that some brewers are planning to use the Hillsbrew event to release creative new brews, so it’s worth it to stop by! Hillsbrew will be at the Wingspan Event and Conference Center at Westside Commons.
SheBrew Festival March 5
Extend the fun of beer month while showing support for the female-identified members of the brew community. SheBrew is a fundraising event supporting LGBTQ individuals in Oregon and across the nation. Meet female-identified craft beer and cider makers, entertainers and business and community partners. SheBrew is the unity between the Human Rights Campaign and the Oregon Brew Crew.
Visit a Brewery
Visiting a brewery is a great way to soak in the craft beer experience with beer flights and savory pairings. Additionally, many local brewers are releasing new beers in February, including seasonal and limited editions.
Check out Alesong Brewing & Blending in the Eugene countryside or at their location in the 5th Street market district for a guided tasting of their artisan barrel-aged beers. While there, be sure to sample their unique Winter Release beers with flavors like Raspberry Parliament, Rolling Mist, Stonefruit Sonata and Maestro.
If you’re out in the Corvallis area, stop by Block 15 Tap Room where you can choose from a variety of beers on tap brewed feet away from your seat. Pair your beer of choice with a selection of hot and cold sandwiches served on fresh bread from their on-site bakery. Block 15 is celebrating Oregon Beer Month with a focus on their Super Nebula bourbon barrel-aged beer series.
When out in the Bend area, Boss Rambler Beer Club is a great place to go for outstanding tropical-noted IPA, summer lagers, fruited beers and grub from the local food trucks that often park just outside the building.
You can find selections by these brewers and more at your local Market of Choice Beer and Wine Department.