We drove way up the coast last week to the land of hipster-slackers, IPAs and knit caps just in time to enjoy a taste of Zwickelmania 2017, the Oregon Craft Beer association’s annual celebration of home brews gone commercial. Day 1 on Feb. 18 featured Portland metro breweries, and the party continues with Day 2 on Feb. 25 at regional breweries throughout the state.
A craft beer fest is not an intuitive destination for a wine-loving woman and her beer-sipping husband (me), whose taste runs more toward an icy bottle of Corona garnished with the obligatory slice of lime. But we had a marvelous time expanding our understanding of what a beer is and can be with a trio of stops in East Portland this past Saturday.
Stop 1: Lardo
We began with ballast (aka lunch) and a beer at the local chain’s SE Hawthorne Boulevard location. Menu options ranged from traditional grilled cheese with tomato soup to a kale Caesar salad – the healthy choice – to the more exotic Pho’Rench Dip sandwich, featuring shaved beef, hoisin, sambal mayo, thai basil and pho broth. I washed down my yummy Pho sandwich with a local Rosenstadt – Helles Lager. The tea-infused cider complemented the grilled cheese nicely. None of us went hungry. Or thirsty.
Stop 2: Scout Brewery and Tap Room
Scout’s tap room is just a couple of blocks and around the corner from Lardo on SE 10th Avenue. Full disclosure, one of the owners is an acquaintance and he treated us to a sampling that nicely illustrates the eclectic offerings found at a craft beer extravaganza:
- Gose Xmas Past – a cranberry gose;
- Kentucky – a stout brewed with bourbon, coffee and hazelnut;
- Pomegranatea, a fruity brew featuring pomegranate and Earl Gray tea;
- Jam, another fruity brew made with marionberries;
- Axe & Receive: A DIPA blend aged over hickory axe handle.
The crowd at the packed tap room was as chill as the beer and having a great time. Being a beer traditionalist and not a fan of IPAs generally, I enjoyed the stout the best and enjoyed expanding my horizons with the rest.
Stop 3: Cascade Brewing Barrel House
We wrapped up our mini-tour with a damp five-block walk north on SE 10th Avenue to the Cascade Brewing Barrel House, an artisanal brewery known for its “sours.” While beer traditionally is brewed in sterile vats to guard against wild yeast, sour beer brewers very intentionally introduce bacteria into the mix to give the brews a tart, funky kick.
Our Band of Merrymakers sampled a mix of largely fruity brews – I enjoyed my 2-ounce pour of Honey Ginger Lime, though I’m not sure I’d quaff a pint of a sour ale. But again, I’m the guy who usually sticks to Corona.
ZWICKELMANIA 2017 DAY 2 – FEB. 25
- WHAT: After a rollicking Week 1 in the Portland Metro area, the annual craft beer festival continues at featured regions throughout Oregon. In addition to sampling local brews, individual breweries feature activities such as meet-the-brewer, tours and food-and-beer pairings.
- WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017
- WHERE: Featured regions include Central Oregon, Mt. Hood/the Gorge, Southern Oregon, The Coast and the Willamette Valley. Find a map of participating breweries in each region here. Check individual websites for activities at each site.
- HASHTAG: Follow and share the fun on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #Zwickel17
- Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone.
- Keep your palate fresh and your mind clear by sipping samples rather than pounding pints.
- Pick a region and settle in. No reason to drive all over the state for a day of beer sampling.
- Be Safe. Designate a teetotaler to drive – maybe the guy who prefers Coronas.