Over the years I have volunteered for day shifts in the heat, night shifts with beer running out and closing shifts when the crowds are few, mid Saturdays and Fridays, but never the beginning of the Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF). What a difference a day makes.

Wednesday July 21 The Oregon Brewers Guild Brewers Dinner was a great way to start the festivities. Getting to chat it up with brewers and drinking great beers – that’s how it started for this beer geek. How does one pick amongst 24 beers and only have 6 tickets? You choose carefully and wisely. Beers included: Calderia Brewing – Mogli, Deschutes Brewing – Quasimodo, and Hopworks Urban Brewery – Velvet Underground. When tasting The Guillotine by Pelican Pub & Brewing, we were informed by Darron Welch, the head brewer, it was made with a special one-of-a-kind French hop they were asked to try. Fantastic brews lined up with salmon, pork, salad, vegetables medleys and chocolate brownies, all ending with great Shakespeare Stout from Rogue. Held under the same tents that in just hours would hold thousands drinking, it was a magical way to start the OBF.

Thursday July 22

The official opening day for the OBF. First on the agenda was the Brewer’s brunch at the Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House. Great food and even beer was available to the early crowd. 500 people were in attendance and I heard rumors that Rogue Public House and the Green Dragon were also opened for the overflow crowd. We stuffed our faces and drank from “Woody” the Deschutes big wooden traveling keg. Then the music started up with Transcendental Brass Band and people gathered at the top of Davis and 5th. Portland Mayor Sam Adams and the Head Cheese from Deschutes, Gary Fish, led the parade to the Oregon Brewers Festival.

It was a great time and a wonderful crowd as we walked down to the tapping of the firstkeg at the OBF. There were musical groups and people carrying signs of different beers and breweries. I even saw a sign to help the Oregon Homebrewers who recently lost their rights. After a good 15 minute walk, we arrived to the stage where the first keg was celebrated and then tapped by the Mayor. A few pints for the big wigs, and then it was time for those of us who walked the parade. Deschutes had Super Juble to tap: a big sweet dark barley wine style beer that has been in the barrel for over two years. I pushed my way to the front and was one of the lucky ones to have a glass of the sweet nectar.

Then the festival opened, the crowds poured in, and the lines formed, but you could sense this was a different kind of crowd. It was the professional beer drinking crowd and they knew what they were doing. No huge lines, just people having a great time and it was calm and fun. Sure, a few “Woooos” went through the tents, but not the usual drunken five minutes worth each time. The Buzz Tent was a blast and being able to get the beers for just an extra token was great. For this beer geek, the 2010 OBF was off the hook! I am ready for next year’s festival and already looking forward to the parade, brunch and dinner. Thanks Portland, I had an awesome time.