Welcome back to the dark side. Fresh hop season is almost over, the last of the Oktoberfests hits this weekend, and with the annual launch of Lompoc's Monster Mash comes full-on Fall beer season in Portland.

You don't need the sun to have fun. Because despite all the pride we take in our light, hoppy, ales, we do dark beer pretty well here in Oregon. Of our recently added 19 Great American Beer Festival Medals — the third most of any state, behind California and Colorado, and the highest percentage of wins-per-entry of any state — 8 of them were for ales that were amber or darker.

It's particularly exciting in Portland, where brewers are explorers, not tied into any specific genre of beer. As the weather gets colder, keep a look out for the new and creative ways that brewers paint palettes with their various dark malts.

Whether it's at the Bourbon Beer and Burger Bash or our annual Pro/Am Festival, there will always be something dark and exciting on tap somewhere—often much closer than you think. PARKER HALL.

Friday, October 2

Prost! Oktoberfest

The last gasp of drunken Germankind in Portland. Owner Dan Hart will pick up where Stammtisch left off with another outdoor lager drink-off, this time in North Portland. With 10 different Oktoberfest-style beers, plus tons of glassware for sale, it's not a bad time at all. Prost! 4237 N Mississippi Ave. 11-2:30 am Friday-Sunday, October 2-4.

Portland Fresh Hop Beer Fest

So, you didn't make it to Hood River for the freshest fresh hops? Most of the same fresh-hop beers will be here, just…less fresh. Never fear, even if the IPAs just taste "normal", they will still be some of the best in the nation. PH. Oaks Amusement Park, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way. 5:30-9 pm Friday, October 2, 12-9 pm Saturday, October 3. $15-40.

Saturday, October 3

Willamette Week's Beer Pro/Am

Our third annual beer pro/am takes pro brewers back to their basement and garage roots—pairing them up with some of the Portland area's finest home brewers in competition. It's an eclectic and widely experimental bunch, with past competition favorites running the gamut from barrel-aged Belgians, to Neapolitan ice cream themed ales brewed with hefeweizen yeast, to silky coffee milk stouts. But don't expect more of the same—no brewers overlook an opportunity to try something new. PH. Metalcraft Fabrication, 723 N Tillamook St. 1-6 pm. $27.

Handmade Beer and Bike Fest

After combining what used to be two separate festivals—Biketoberfest and the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association show—this fest is a huge bike fair featuring cycling performances, games, showcases of handmade bikes from more than 30 makers, and a whole mess of craft beer and food. Hopworks Urban Brewery, 2944 SE Powell Blvd. 12-9 pm Saturday, October 3, 12-5 pm Sunday, October 4. $10-40.

Bourbon Beer and Burger Bash

Culmination brewing hosts four chefs, who will design burgers specifically for consumption beside delicious bourbon barrel-aged brews. No word yet as to who, or what, but just the thought of ground beef patties and dark barrel-aged ales has our mouths watering. PH. Culmination Brewing, 2117 NE Oregon Ave. 12-9 pm. Free.

Tuesday, October 6

Cascade Brewing Barrel House 5th Anniversary Celebration

Cascade Brewing celebrates five years in it's amazing SE Belmont location with five days of extremely awesome sour ales, most of which are themselves five years old. Selections include '08 Sang Noir, '08 Apricot, '09 Vlad, '09 Vine, '09 Sang Royal, '09 Kriek, '09 Bourbonic Plague, '09 Blackberry, '09 Sang Rouge, and '09 Noyaux. Cascade Brewing founder Art Larrance and Brewmaster Ron Gansberg will be on hand Friday for a special tapping of Cherry Double Red, which is a re-creation of one of the now-famed sour brewery's original creations. It's a great week to love sours in the NW. PH. Cascade Brewing, 939 SE Belmont St. 12-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday, October 6-10. Free.