Sunday, February 16, 2014

Zwickelmania 2014

So much beer, so little time.
I spent the majority of the day yesterday wandering the streets of my awesome city, Portland, Oregon. It was raining most of the day (status quo for February in Stumptown) but that didn't stop hundreds of craft beer lovers from participating in Zwickelmania 2014.

What is Zwickelmania, you ask, my unfortunate, beer-deprived friend? Zwickelmania is perhaps the most fantastic FREE beer event in Oregon. Breweries and brewpubs throughout the state open their doors to the general public for brewery tours and free sips of their tasty wares. A "zwickel" is a valve that brewers use to take samples of beer straight from a tank, in case you didn't know. Many of the brewers participating in Zwickelmania actually do just that, allowing visitors to taste beer that couldn't possibly be more fresh.

Of course, when you have an event that takes place all over town, traveling to each venue can be tricky. Gratefully, Rogue Brewing, Kell's Brewpub and Brewvana Brewery Tours provided shuttle buses. Though not quite perfectly timed and at a cost of $5, the shuttles were probably the best way to get from brewery to brewery. (We did end up in a taxi and a Car 2 Go at one point.) I always seem to meet the nicest people on the buses and I've made some lasting friendships. Plus, it's just a helluva good time packed like a sardine with fellow craft beer enthusiasts.

The bus is a must.

What's the BEST thing about Zwickelmania? I'm not going to lie, it's the free samples of beer at dozens of Portland's best breweries. This is the annual opportunity for brewers to meet their fans and put their latest and greatest beers in the spotlight. Many did not disappoint. I was most impressed with Burnside Brewing's Hasselhoff Brau--because, well, it lives up to it's namesake in boldness and unabashed audacity. Hopworks put out quite a spread, which included a freebie brat and kraut plate. Commons Brewery was also a big hit and their tasting room was banging when I was there.
Straight from the tank to your tummy.

Zwickelmania is also the perfect opportunity for real beer nerds to get behind the scenes looks at the machinations of their favorite breweries, and maybe even ask a few questions of the brewers. Those big, shiny tanks sure are pretty, aren't they? If you've ever wondered exactly where and how your beer is made, you'll have your chance to find out--next year.

Unfortunately, there's absolutely no way you could ever visit every single one of the dozens of breweries and brew pubs participating in Zwickelmania. Hey, if you could do it, you're a better beer drinker than me. I think I only made it to half a dozen or so. 

Still, I had an absolutely awesome time, as always. Oh, and unless you've forgotten that this was all going on in "Keep it Weird" Portland, I have to bring up one the most Portlandia things that happened yesterday. We had a moped gang invasion. Yes, a moped gang. Dozens of moped riders decided that their favorite mode of transport--vintage mopeds--was the best way to get around rainy Portland. And you know what? I think they were right! Although they did leave a rather fresh "lawnmower" aroma behind at every brewery they visited.

Invasion of the Mopeds


  1. Definitely a good time was had by all, even though the buses can't keep up with the reveler's and their desire to hit all the breweries listed. Next year they should figure out how to stagger buses, or else we will just keep having to rent taxi's. :)

  2. I think I'll map out the thing using city bus routes...wait a minute! I think I already did! ;-)