The Oregon Brewers Festival got its start in July 1988 on a shoestring, with family and friends pulling together to serve up some microbrews. It was a promotional tool, a way to get some ink for the local microbrewers, of which there were only four in Portland at the time: BridgePort, McMenamins, Portland and Widmer.
It was a significant time for microbrewers throughout the state as well: Full Sail had set up shop in Hood River in 1987, Rogue Ales opened in the spring of 1988 in Ashland (later relocating to Newport), and Deschutes established itself in Bend in June 1988, right before the festival.
The founders didnít know it at the time, but they had a great concept on their hands. Today, the Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation's longest running and best loved craft beer festivals; itís also one the largest of its kind. Located on the west bank of the Willamette River, with majestic Mt. Hood as a backdrop, it is the ideal venue for beer lovers to congregate. With a laid-back attitude and scores of beers, the festival embodies the spirit of the city of Portland, and is the crowning jewel of Oregon Craft Beer Month.
Craft beer has come a long way. At the end of 2015, there were 4,225 craft breweries operating in the United States; here in Oregon, we had 206 brewing companies operating 246 brewing facilities in 72 cities. Portland alone had 65 breweries in the city limits, and 96 in the greater metropolitan area. The total economic impact from the beer industry on Oregonís economy is a staggering $4.49 billion; the Oregon Brewers Festival alone brings in $30.2 million.
Small and independent craft brewers have propelled the number of U.S. breweries from less than 100 to more than 4,200 in just over 30 years; itís a staggering an impressive statistic. You can now find craft beer in grocery stores and service station marts, on restaurant menus and airplane drink carts, in cans, bottles, growlers and kegs.
The Oregon Brewers Festival was at the forefront of exposing craft beers to the public, and it continues to do so. Tens of thousands of craft beer lovers annually make the pilgrimage to Beervana to drink up what we have to offer. We realize that it is the media that helps spread the word about our successful event, and we are extremely appreciative. If you wish to cover the event, or if there is anything I can do to help you with a story, please shoot me an email and let's start a conversation.
Chris Crabbchris @ oregonbrewfest.com