It's the Oregon Brewers Guild's job to disseminate information about its member breweries to you, the drinking public. There's no better way to start spreading the brews than by inviting you, the drinking public, to sample their wares—most of them free and fresh. Saturday marks the 3rd Annual Zwickelmania. A zwickel is a special valve, oftentimes resembling a metal, coiled pig-tail, that allows you to try a beer directly from the holding tanks. A record-number 55 Oregon breweries will fling open their doors this Saturday, Feb. 19, and the best part is, getting to a handful of them is as simple as stepping on a bus (then hopefully not tumbling off it). In addition to free buses operating in Eugene and Bend, three Portland shuttles (Southeast, Northeast, and around the Westside) will be available to whisk you around the city to 25 of the participating breweries.
The festivities last from 11 am to 4 pm and offer Zwickelmaniacs a chance to experience older, established breweries and new whippersnappers. If the samples start catching up to you, don't feel obliged to soldier on with the tour. You can easily relax, hydrate, and another ride will come along in an hour.
On the Northeast shuttle which starts at Breakside Brewing, Widmer Bros. Brewing welcomes you with comp beer tasters and apps; brother Kurt W. awaits to check your ID before brother Rob W. guides tours of our largest brewing facility. Two stops later, one of PDX's newest and smallest breweries, Columbia River Brewing, will offer nine of their 10 house beers straight from the tanks. Owner/brewer Rick Burkhardt said they'll also lay out the barley used from around the world to demonstrate each beer's unique malt profile and, if you like Grape Nuts, feel free to taste 'em raw.
The other two vehicles pick up from the new Buckman Village Brewery housed in Green Dragon Pub. Hop on the Rogue ride routing through the SE and you'll be overdosing on sour beers at the Cascade Brewing Barrel House in no time. The lineup of 18 beers including award-winning Bourbonic Plague and Vlad the Imp Aler would be alluring enough, but ask almost anyone who's had their beers and they'll tell you Noyeaux, made from the pit meat of apricots, is where it's at. Once you get to Migration Brewing no one will fault you for calling it a day. If there's blue skies, their front patio is as inviting a place as any and Zwickelmania just so happens to fall on the brewpub's first anniversary.
To commemorate the occasion, there will be live music until 10 pm and several unique updates to their lineup including three iterations of their anniversary beer called The Yearling. It's an Imperial Stout partially brewed with wheat for extra pillowy softness and there'll also be a vanilla bean infused version served on nitrogen for over-the-top smoothness. And tour-goers will be treated to a version currently aging in whiskey casks, naturally served right off the zwickel.
GO, DRINK: Zwickelmania takes place at breweries all around Oregon 11 am-4 pm, Saturday February 19. Pay as you go. Full list of breweries at http://oregonbeer.org/zwickelmania.