Call me a centrist or call me a traitor: When it comes to who throws a best artist-driven bandânâbrewery festival in town, the Merc wins hands down (and by default) with their second installment of Malt Ball. An extravaganzapaloozafest of a dozen local bands playing to a liquid soundtrack of beers inspired byâor sometimes brewed withâsaid band, makes this a veritable bacchanalian feast for the ears and livers. Musical Bruets this year include hard rockers Sons of Huns and Gigantic Brewing who are unleashing Kiss the Goat, a fittingly black bock, as well as droop rockers Minden who inspired Old Market Brewery to concoct a pink kriek called Papa Cherry. Admission: $15 per session (or $25 for both) includes 4 drink tickets. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2 pm or 7 pm. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell Street.
Worst Day Of The Year Ride
While not a beer fest per se, The Worst Day of the Year Ride launches from and concludes at the Lucky Lab on Hawthorne. Itâs not their Tour de Lab, but itâs a great excuse to ride around the city (16 miles for the sensible, 45 miles for those less so) and wear costumes (as opposed to nothing at all). Registration begins at $35 ($10 for kids 12 and under). Sunday, Feb. 10: 45-mile ride starts at 9 am, 16-mile ride begins at 10 am st Lucky Lab, 915 SE Hawthorne Street.
Open wide as brewers across the state whip their Zwickels out. The 5th annual Zwickelmania, brought to us by the Oregon Brewers Guild, is your chance to pop into nearly any and every brewery from Ashland to Astoria to be dazzled by shiny stainless steel, become enamored with the men and women in the rubber boots, and oh yeah, bewitched by free and fresh samples of beer at each stop. Portland metro has 39 participating breweries. Even better, two free buses, courtesy of Rogue and Brewvana, will run on limited routes to shuttle you from one wonderful wonderland to the next. 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. The festivities offer Zwickelmaniacs a chance to experience older, established breweries such as Portland Brewing and Widmer Bros. and new whippersnappers including Base Camp and Gigantic. If the samples start catching up to you, donât feel obliged to soldier on. Many breweries will host live music and offer food specials so you donât wake up Sunday feeling zwickeled over. Saturday, Feb. 16. Free. Hours: 11 am-4 pm. Basically at every brewery in Oregon.
Festival of the Dark Arts
Fort Georgeâs one-day extravaganza in the middle of their Stout Month, the Festival of Dark Arts is to worship at the altar of stouts, beers more sinfully delicious than sinisterly hoppy. Congregants will be regaled with over 40 pitch black ales, many from the wizards at Fort George including bourbon-aged stouts and more out-there ones such as a Black Walnut Stout. A dark art gallery including a blacksmith forge, tarot reading, and fire dancers make it fun for little devils of all ages. Saturday, Feb 16. Free admission. Festival glass, $8, $1 per beer sample. Hours: 2-10 pm. Fort George Brewery, 1483 Duane Street, Astoria.