‘Biggest’ beer festival in the country takes place July 23-26 in Portland

It’s the event that brings together 80 craft breweries, 2,000 volunteers and 70,000 beer lovers for a four-day summer celebration of American craft beer. The 22nd annual Oregon Brewers Festival, one of the nation's longest-running and best-loved craft beer festivals, will take place July 23 through July 26 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. Event hours are Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Eighty craft breweries from 14 different states will each send one product to serve at the event; an 81st beer, Collaborator, is a joint project between members of the Oregon Brew Crew homebrewing club and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. More than 70,000 fans annually travel from points around the world to sample more than two-dozen beer styles, ranging from malty ambers to bitter pales to fruity wheats.

Joining the breweries are industry exhibits by hop growers, homebrewers, breweriana collectors, and national beer writers and publishers. Four days of live music showcases the best high-energy talent the Northwest has to offer. Food booths sell meals and alternative beverages, while the Crater Lake Soda Garden provides handcrafted sodas free of charge to minors and designated drivers. Minors are allowed into the event when accompanied by a parent.

Admission into the festival grounds is free. In order to sample beer, a taster package is required. Taster packages are available in $10, $20 and $50 increments. All packages include a 2009 souvenir mug, which is required for consuming beer (mugs from previous years will not be filled); a souvenir program that includes a map of where the beers are located onsite; and various quantities of tokens, which are used to purchase beer. Patrons pay four tokens for a full mug of beer, or one token for a taste. Additional tokens may be purchased at $1 apiece. Sales of taster packages and tokens cease one-half hour prior to the close of the event each evening.

Alternative modes of transportation are encouraged, with free monitored bicycle parking available each day. The main entrance is at SW Oak Street and Naito Parkway, one block from the MAX Light Rail line.

The Oregon Brewers Festival takes place during Oregon Craft Beer Month, a celebration of craft beer by Oregon's specialty breweries. A variety of special events will take place at craft breweries throughout the state, culminating with the Oregon Brewers Festival. The festival also hosts two ticketed auxiliary events: the Oregon Brewers Dinner, held on the eve of the festival opening, and the Oregon Brewers Brunch and Parade, a kick off to the festivities held the morning of July 23.

The Oregon Brewers Festival was founded in 1988 as an opportunity to expose the public to microbrews at a time when the craft brewing industry was just getting off the ground. Today, that industry has succeeded, especially in Oregon, and particularly in the city of Portland. There are currently 96 craft brewing facilities in Oregon, and 30 breweries operating within the Portland city limits – more than any other city in the world. The Portland metropolitan area boasts 38 breweries, making it the largest craft brewing market in the United States.