July and Oregon Craft Brewery Month are coming to a close, which means that Portland’s two biggest summer brewfests have come to
town. Last weekend was the Portland International Beerfest (PIB) and the Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) started today at noon with the arrival of the Brewers’ Parade. With both of these pricey brewfests happening within weeks of each other (4 days apart this year!), which ‘fest is the better one? Especially if you don’t want to spend that much or drink that much in such close proximity.
What do you think: Which brewfest do you like more? I’d love to hear your opinions or anecdotes of either ‘fest. Leave a comment below!
I have a few pro/cons for PIB and a few comparisons between them that I’d like to share:
Portland International Beerfest takes place in the North Park Blocks – only occupying one block – and serves both local, state, national, and, of course, international beer. This year it cost $30 (at the gate; less $2 if tickets were bought ahead of time online; or plus $10 for a VIP package) for admission, a tasting glass, and 10 tickets. You can buy extra tickets for $1. Free re-entry all weekend with wristband and glass.
Pro: Because of the admission price (which is comparable to other beefests), the crowd is beautifully limited to die-hard beer drinkers.
However: $30 is pricey, especially with two beerfests to consider. $40 for the VIP package is a good deal with two admissions, two
tasting glasses, and 20 tickets to share, but there are a limited number of those packages and you have to buy them in advance online.
Con: The area is small with little seating, so people are hanging out right in front of the taps making it really hard to get around or to find the end of a line. Ugh, this is one of my biggest pet peeves! Luckily, the lines were fairly short; while at OBF the lines seem endless (this brewfest is huge, occupying several acres of Tom McCall Park, with an attendance of over 80,000 last year).
However: Since this festival is in the park blocks, there is plenty of shade, while at OBF your only shade is under the tents that start to feel like a sauna by 3pm. It also makes for a more cozy experience where you can bump into two groups of people, at the same time, that you knew from very different times in your life, and all it takes is “What’s the best beer you’ve tried so far?” before everyone’s friends.
Pro: You get to try tons of different beers you wouldn’t get to try without paying upwards of $10 for a bottle of rare international beer or traveling to those far off breweries yourself.
However: Those rare international beers don’t cost just one ticket. Which leads me to the worst con…
Con: Most brewfests charge 1 ticket per 4 oz. taster, or maybe sometimes 2 tickets for extra strong or rare beers. But PIB charges anywhere from 1 ~ 7 tickets for one 4 oz. taster! SEVEN TICKETS?! I guess if you have a sizeable income you can afford to pay basically $7 for 4 ounces of beer, but that’s still crazy! So, don’t waste your tickets on one of those beers, you say? Easy, except MOST of the beers are at least 2 tickets or more.
However: I did manage to try mostly 1 ticket beers, along with a few 2 ticket beers, so it’s very possible to not spend too much at this festival. Which leads me to the best pro…
Pro: The beers at this festival are not low in ABV. While sticking to my 1 ~ 2 ticket a beer budget, I managed to find double IPAs, triple IPAs, barleywines, and other strong beers. Most of the 3 ~ 7 ticket beers were all strong beers. Plus, most of the beers I tried were really good. I even had two Samuel Adams that were really (surprisingly!) good. So you’re not wasting your money on crappy beer. Also, the lines weren’t all that long when I was there on a Friday evening, so getting your next beer doesn’t take as long as it does at OBF (where waiting time can be up to 20 minutes).
However: Make sure you don’t drive home! You’ll probably get a bit tipsy.
To sum up: Attendees at PIB are primarily beerhards, but it’s expensive. PIB is small, but cozy. At PIB you get to try several different types of limited kegs or rare imports you wouldn’t get to try otherwise, but it’s expensive. PIB beers are usually strong, of high quality, and quite drinkable, but you’ll probably need a DD to get home.
Overall, despite the pros, I was a little disappointed with PIB; it’s just too expensive! But I’m really excited for OBF this weekend, so see you there! I’ll give you my critique of OBF next week! So keep a lookout for part 2! Cheers!