Image of Penner-Ash courtesy mrJasonWeaver via Flickr
The calendar says that summer's coming soon, though the Portland skies — promising showers for the next two weeks straight, seriously just kill us now — might suggest otherwise. So obviously the solution is to drink your way into delusion, and thankfully, that same calendar also comes packed with the season's usual lineup of beer fests, wine tastings, and other assorted alcohol-fueled celebrations.
Between summer's two big party weekends — Memorial Day and the Fourth of July — no fewer than nine boozy bashes will take place in the Portland metro area, hopefully allowing for a few outdoor occasions to soak up Vitamin-D (while your liver soaks up everything else). Whether you're celebrating a long weekend, need an accompaniment to an outdoor picnic, or just want to pour one out for Zoo Brew, join your fellow drinkers at one of these early-summer events.
Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country
When: May 25 to 27
Where: Willamette Valley
How Much: event prices vary
More than 150 wineries throughout the Willamette Valley will throw open tasting room doors for the 23rd-annual "Weekend in the Wine Country" celebration, considered the official kick-off to tasting season and the valley's liveliest weekend of the year. Expect wineries from the Dundee Hills to Chehalem Mountain, the Eola-Amity Hills to McMinnville to compete for your tasting palate by offering special releases, vintage celebrations, and events featuring paired snacks and other booze-soaking edibles (think cheese. Lots of it). Plan a tasting route to discover events like wine-and-popcorn pairing (at Forest Grove's Montinore Estate), vineyard barbecues (at Salem's Redhawk Vineyard and Sherwood's Hawks View Cellars, among others), and tons of live music.
Makers & Shakers
When: June 6
Where: Ecotrust, 721 NW 9th Ave.
How Much: $20
Toast warm weather the way urbanites in other cities do — by drinking on a rooftop — at Ecotrust's summer kick-off event Makers & Shakers, which takes over the building's rooftop terrace at twilight on Thursday, June 6. Five local distilleries (Clear Creek, New Deal, Big Bottom Whiskey, Stone Barn Brandyworks, and Vinn) will offer cocktail samples specifically paired with bites from five Portland catering companies. Wash it all down against a musical backdrop provided by the Brazillionaires, and know that your buzz helps benefit Ecotrust's ongoing community development programs.
Portland Beer Week 2013
When: June 6 to 16
Where: various locations
How Much: event prices vary
Because this is Portland, designating a period of time "Beer Week" obviously results in a calendar that stretches a luxurious 11 days. This year's third-annual installment of Portland Beer Week features everything from pairing dinners to tap takeovers to events like the "Beer Games," which will see buzzed revelers competing against each other in a series of "bar games" that probably put trivia night to shame. The week gets underway with a June 6 kick-off party at NW's Lucky Lab and includes events like a beer-fueled StripCrawl, a beer-and-sandwich festival at Breakside Brewing, and a barrel-aged beer seminar. Start girding that liver now.
Rye Beer Fest
When: June 7
Where: EastBurn, 1800 E. Burnside
How Much: tasting fees vary
Bread and whiskey are pretty much pantry staples as far as we're concerned, but we'll admit that rye does magical things in other foodstuffs, as well. As part of Portland Beer Week, Taplister.com throws a fete dedicated solely to rye beer, or beers that substitute barley with rye in the malt. The second-annual festival dedicates its entire food and beverage menu to rye, featuring more than 19 rye beers (available by the pint and half-pint), rye cocktails, and bites that highlight the grain. Expect pours from Breakside, Boring Brewing, Base Camp, and Stone Brewing, among others.
Portland Fruit Beer Festival
When: June 8 and 9
Where: Burnside Brewing, NE Burnside and 7th
How Much: $20
The food pyramid suggests consuming between two to four servings of fruit per day, so partaking in the brews at the third-annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival is clearly a healthy choice. As one of the larger events of Portland Beer Week, this toast to fruit-infused beer offers more than 40 fruity beers from 25 breweries (Burnside Brewing plays host to the event, but expect pours from the likes of the Commons, Double Mountain, Oakshire, and Fort George Brewing). Pours — many specifically created just for this event — range from a light kiwi ale to a more-hoppy mango IPA. This year, a pre-event pig roast is scheduled for June 5 at EastBurn, featuring a whole-roasted Carlton Farms pig; tickets to that dinner are $40 and available here.
Cider Summit PDX
When: June 21 and 22
Where: Elizabeth Caruthers Park, South Waterfront
How Much: $25
The South Waterfront puckers up for one weekend in June during the now-annual Cider Summit Portland, featuring more than 60 different hard ciders from both local and international cidermakers and producers. If a "craft cider revolution" is indeed at hand, the folks behind Cider Summit (which threw a similar event in Chicago earlier this year) are pushing things forward, teaming with local cider brewery Bushwacker to assemble a lineup with big apple flavors but a wide range of tasting notes. Attendees at the 2013 Chicago event sipped on cask-aged Scottish ciders, "musty" English brews, and dry varieties from across the country.
When: June 22
Where: Sandbox Studio, 420 NE 9th Avenue
How Much: $60
For one Saturday in June, you can avoid those dreaded "who's going to designated drive to Wine Country" arguments with the arrival of Wine Rush-PDX, a one-day tasting of rare artisan wines from the west coast. Event company Indie Vinos, Inc. brings more than 30 wineries to NE Portland's Sandbox Studio, ranging from Oregon's Deux Fen Estates to Sonoma's Spann Vineyards.
When: June 27
Where: The Governor Hotel, 614 SW 11th Avenue
How Much: $50
If a trip to Japan proves too indulgent for a summer getaway, take solace in the fact that the country's best booze will be making a trip to Portland for the annual Sake Fest PDX, promising tastes of more than 100 different sake and plum wine varieties. The entrance fee nets guests unlimited sake samples and bites from restaurants like Biwa, Wildwood, and Masu.
North American Organic Brewers Festival
When: June 27 to 30
Where: Overlook Park, N. Fremont Street and Interstate Avenue
How Much: free admission; tasting tokens $1 each
In the interest of avoiding more comparisons to Portlandia, let's just gently allude to the fact that it's no surprise the Rose City has devised a way to celebrate organic living by drinking a shit-ton of beer. The ninth-annual North American Organic Brewers Festival brings sustainability to Overlook Park for a three-day weekend, pouring more than 50 different beers and ciders created with Mother Earth in mind. The purchase of a $6 (totally biodegradable) tasting cup gets guests access to all-organic beers by the likes of Hopworks Urban Brewery and others; the festival also features live music and vendors like Fifty Licks and Violetta.