Thursday, February 21, 2013

Zwickelmania 5.0

Zwickelmania 2013
Special guest post from Pete Weaver. Thanks for taking the time to writing up this great review Zwickelmania 2013! 

President’s Day weekend marked the return of Zwickelmania, a day long, state-wide celebration of Oregon craft beer. Sponsored by the Oregon Brewers Guild, Zwickelmania gives craft beer lovers a behind the scenes look into their favorite beers and the breweries that make them. This is a day when breweries open their doors to the public offering free tours and samples, often times right from the fermenters. The name Zwickelmania actually comes from the term zwickel, which is the valve on a fermenter that brewers use to pour samples and see how the beer is coming along.

Brewvana Bus
Living in Portland, I opted to hop on the Brewvana bus for their shuttle tour of the city’s favorite breweries in Southeast. My beer festivities started at 11am at Migration Brewing. This also happened to be Migration’s Third Anniversary for which they were releasing a special anniversary brew, Triploid IPA. Clocking in at 100 IBU’s and 8% ABV, this imperial IPA sure packs a whallop. They were also giving tours of their 7bbl brewery and offering samples of the Triploid, top selling Glisan St. Dry Hop Pale Ale and a special Clems Cream Ale aged in an Aquavit barrel. The Clems was interesting with a hint of licorice taste from the Aquavit barrel.

Migration Brewing
Laurelwood Brewing
Our group then caught the Brewvana bus for the short trip over to Laurelwood Public House and Brewery. Laurelwood is one of Portland’s better known breweries, and for good reason. Their Workhorse IPA is a fine example of a Northwest IPA with a floral, fruity hop aroma yet well balanced with malt sweetness. Laurelwood was very welcoming to Zwickelmaniacs providing samples of many different styles, including seasonals like NATE’S Cascadian Dark Ale, Old Reliable Barley Wine, and a Red Rum Sour Ale. I really enjoyed the CDA, which was dark, slightly roasty and deliciously hopped, a very nice representation of the style. And for all you hopheads out there, you need to get to Laurelwood to taste the seasonal Megafauna Imperial IPA. If you like the Workhorse, you’ll live this IIPA, trust me.

Gigantic Brewing
Next up, we were off to Gigantic Brewing. Located in an industrial area of Southeast Portland, Gigantic is one of the city’s newer breweries. It opened last May to great fanfare due to the reputation of its founders. Portland brewing veterans Van Havig, formerly of Rock Bottom Brewery, and Ben Love, who previously brewed for Pelican Brewery before moving on to Hopworks, joined forces to create Gigantic and they’ve been cranking out delicious beers ever since. It was a treat to get a glimpse behind the curtain of Gigantic. Havig was on hand pouring samples of their porter from the zwickel for patrons to enjoy. The brewery looked in tip top shape and the large crowd on hand was certainly appreciative of the hard working staff who kept our glasses full.

By this time it was early afternoon, we had tasted many delicious beers and everybody was in really good spirits. But the day was far from over as we had a few more stops ahead of us. Nikki from Brewvana showed up, so we piled onto the bus again for the short drive up to Hopworks Urban Brewery.

Christian Ettinger of Hopworks
Hopworks brewers were also providing tours of the brewery operations. They were happy to show patrons the brewing setup, explaining every step of the process along the way, even telling the nuances between their different beer styles. We also got to see the canning line, which was installed last year, and their bottling line as well. It was great to get a behind the scenes look into the Hopworks operation. These peaks into the top-notch breweries making the craft beer we love is the best part of Zwickelmania. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the work, and thought process, that goes into the art of craft brewing.

The day was winding down, but far from over. The next stop on our tour was at Base Camp Brewing. Base Camp is one of the newest breweries here in Portland, having just opened in October. Don’t let the newness fool you though, Base Camp has garnered a strong, loyal following in that short amount of time. The place was absolutely jam-packed by the time we showed up to celebrate their first Zwickelmania.

Base Camp Brewing
The Base Camp crew was extremely hospitable, opening the brewery up for the people to mingle around and check it out up close. They were providing Zwickelmaniacs free samples of their IPL (India Pale Lager) right off the brite tank, keeping everybody friendly, happy and in high spirits. Base Camp has a 25bbl brewing system, which should allow them plenty of opportunity for growth in the coming years. And judging by the HUGE turnout Saturday, it may not even take years for them to need an expansion. The taproom area is open and inviting, offering a large bar and many tables for people to get comfortable and enjoy Base Camp’s tasty brews. The highlight is probably the outdoor patio and seating area, which I can see being always crowded when the summer months finally arrive.

At this point, the sun was beginning to fade and Zwickelmania was officially coming to an end. Although the crowd stuck around Base Camp to continue the party and celebrate the greatness of Oregon craft beer. If you are a lover of craft beer, or even just a casual drinker, Zwickelmania is one yearly event you do not want to miss. As I mentioned earlier, the best part of the event is getting the backstage glimpse into the beers you love and the people who make them. It gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with the brewers and experience craft beer in a whole new way. I think you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for the beer you already love to drink anyhow. Definitely mark your calendars for next year’s Zwickemania, I have.