The state's brewers are not going to skip one of the biggest celebrations of their industry, even while still facing the uncertainties of the pandemic.
2021 would have been just the second time Oregon Craft Beer Month was held in February instead of July, ushering in four straight weeks of festivals, guided tastings and behind-the-scenes tours. Those events cannot continue as normal, of course. Large gatherings continue to be dangerous—and prohibited.
But the party will go on virtually, which means drinking from your couch actually just got a whole lot more interesting this month.
One of the most anticipated February activities is Zwickelmania—essentially a giant brewery open house where the public not only gets to meet the makers of their favorite beers in person but also receive a pour straight from a valve on the tanks known as a zwickel.
The festival traditionally took place on Valentine's Day weekend before the state's Craft Beer Month migrated to winter, and became so popular it was forced to expand to two weekends several years ago. This year, rather than abandon the tradition, breweries are tapping into their creative tendencies and hosting everything from guided flights via video to patio tastings.
The Guild's official Zwickelmania events will coincide with the original in-person dates: Portland breweries will be highlighted Saturday, Feb. 13, while the rest of the state's beer producers get the spotlight Saturday, Feb. 20.
Participants can access livestreams of panel discussions and brewery tours via the organization's Facebook and YouTube channels. You'll find a full schedule posted on the Guild's website and directions on how to engage.
Some breweries are working on their own Zwickelmania celebrations—physically distanced and attendance numbers capped. Threshold Brewing, which also happens to be marking its second anniversary that same weekend, is taking reservations for tables in its parklet. A $15 booking fee will secure your spot for up to 90 minutes, two beers, raffle entry and pours from the zwickel delivered directly to your seat.
Meanwhile, Widmer Brothers Brewing is releasing a six-pack that includes two new 2021 beers and a classic: two cans each of Green Skies Hazy IPA, Hazy Jack Pale Ale and Hefe. At 1 pm on Feb. 13, you can then work your way through those offerings with the brewing team, who will also take you on a remote walk through the massive production facility on North Russell Street.
Though perhaps you care less about the education aspect of beer culture and more about the drinking. The Guild is also releasing its fourth annual version of the State of Excitement, a West Coast IPA made at Portland's StormBreaker.
Buy as many bottles as you please from any of the 26 Oregon breweries that are carrying it and drink yourself into a delightfully unaware state of bliss.
Hey, you can celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month however the hell you'd like to.