The Willamette Valley's hop farmers have been dealt a challenging hand this harvest: Not only do workers need to take extra precautions due to the pandemic, but historic wildfires broke out right at the end of the picking season, filling the air with hazardous smoke.
But now, you can taste their hard work.
The Portland Fresh Hop Pop-Up Beer Fest is back, but in a much different form than previous years due to COVID-19. Rather than packing people into a parking lot where they would get their pours at individual booths, drinkers can instead skip the lines and take home their haul of beer in Mason jars or growlers.
"While this year has presented challenges at every corner, we really want to preserve the moments we look forward to every year, even if it might look a little different," Dan Hart, owner of Prost and Interurban, said in a press release.
All beers will be available in 32- or 64-ounce Mason jars, or you can have a growler filled to go. The two businesses are also offering takeout food to pair with the fresh hop beverages. Drinking onsite is allowed, but everyone must wear a mask, observe proper physical distancing guidelines and only consume their beer once seated.
Some of this year's participating Oregon breweries include Breakside, Great Notion, Ruse and Upright, while Washington is represented by everyone from Reuben's to Matchless. Expect more businesses to be added to the list and updated on the festival's social media platforms. The event runs through Oct. 4.
"Beer lovers wait anxiously for fresh releases from their favorite breweries, hop varietals, and fresh hop versions of iconic brews," Hart continued, "so we are stoked to be able to offer a wide range of them at one location."
Another popular festival is also pivoting to continue to reach its devotees who may be hesitant to venture out of their homes for long periods of time. The Wedge will become VirtuWedge in 2020, complete with a tasting kit that includes 10 artisan cheeses from Oregon producers, along with other snacks and some cider to round out the experience.
The kits are $70 and must be purchased by Sept. 23. You can then pick them up Oct. 1-2 at a location on Portland's Central Eastside that will be emailed with your "ticket."
At 5 pm on Oct. 3, participants can come together online to learn more about the cheeses and their mongers, as well as receive tips about creating the perfect cheese plate.