The only catch when it comes to celebrating something like PDX Beer Week, which rolls into town June 11 to 21, is figuring out which of its nearly 100 events to attend. To help us help you narrow it down, we spoke with one of the festival's organizers, Ezra Johnson-Greenough, who gave us some of his top event picks below.
But in addition to events, there are specials all over the city. Every day of the festival, you can participate in Hawthorne Hophouse's Palate Palooza. For $14 you get a flight of 12 taster beers. Score well in the blind taste test and you could be invited back to compete later in the week.
And Bunk Sandwiches is presenting the fest's official sandwich, a po' boy made with brisket braised in Good Life Pass Stout, doused in gravy and topped with a slaw of bitter greens. It's available during Beer Week at Bunk Bar Water and Bunk Bar Wonder, where the brisket is also served in a special Beer Week queso dip.
Likewise, Salt & Straw and Blue Star Donuts are using the festival as yet another reason to experiment. The ice cream shop is offering citra-hopped IPA scoops, while the doughnut chainlet is trotting out Hopworks IPA-glazed donuts with a crumbled pretzel topping.
As for events, here's what not to miss, but be sure to check PDX Beer Week for the full calendar.
JUNE 11 — The first day of the festival culminates with The Lion's Supper at Old Salt Marketplace. The $75 five-course dinner features the cooking of Grain & Gristle's Greg Smith and the beers of Firestone Walker's David Walker. Think beer-glazed tri-tip, beer brats and beer-braised beef with a taste of Wookey Jack, an unfiltered, malty black rye IPA.
JUNE 12-15 — The 5th annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival returns with its biggest lineup of fruit beers. Headquartered at Burnside Brewing Co., it'll add a second beer garden on a lot across the street to accommodate more people, and more beer. Expect about two dozen brewers, including cideries, plus food vendors. All ages welcome. Cost is $20 for 12 tickets and a glass.
JUNE 15 — Think you've got the magic touch? Then you're going to want to swing by Spirit of 77, from 5 to 8 p.m., for a chance to take on the festival's brewers over several rounds of pop-a-shot. Winners get Trailblazer swag, as well as swag courtesy of Laurelwood Brewing Co.
JUNE 16 — If you want to get really geeky, Johnson-Greenough suggests dropping by the Sour & Wild Ale Seminar at The Commons Brewery. The two-hour event features 12 rare beer samples poured by and waxed on by brewers from Breakside Brewery, The Commons, 10 Barrel Brewing and The Ale Apothecary.
JUNE 17 — The Video Game Throw Down is yet another great way to challenge — and maybe even best — the festival's brewers to matches of classic video arcade games at Ground Kontrol. Again, there will be prizes, but you should buy a raffle ticket, too. If your number's called, the folks at Laurelwood Brewing Co. will treat you to two Timbers tickets.
JUNE 18 — Did you know that the brewers at Cascade Brewing, The Commons and Ecliptic all have bands? You do now. And the Brewers and Their Bands event is your chance to hear ‘em all. It all goes down at Ecliptic at 5:30 p.m.
JUNE 20 — From 2 to 6 p.m., Whole Foods in the Pearl is shutting down Couch Street between 12th and 13th avenues for the sole purpose of throwing a family-friendly block party featuring games, food vendors and beer samples from as many as 14 different breweries. And each Portland location of Whole Foods is also slashing the cost of all of its beer that day by 20 percent.
JUNE 21 — The festival's final day ends with a pair of events, including the Portland Beer and Cheese Festival — 10 craft beers paired with cheeses from Cheese Bar's Stave Jones — at The Commons, as well as well as the family-friendly Father's Day Brewgrass and BBQ at Portland Brewing. How family-friendly? If you're paying for an early Father's Day dinner, your kids can order anything they want from the kids menu, free of charge.