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Oregon's Annual Roaming Beer Fest Zwickelmania

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by Clare Gordon

ZWICKELMANIA is named for the fermentation-tank taps from which the fizzy pride of Bridgetown flows. The Oregon Craft Beer's (the new name of the Oregon Brewers Guild) fifth annual fest celebrates beer at the source—each of the astoundingly numerous local breweries around Oregon will open their doors from 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, February 16, to show novice beer lovers and veteran beer geeks alike how the beloved beverage is born. Here are a few recommendations for how to best take advantage of this truly fun and totally free day:

Lager Than LifeWidmer Brothers Brewing, the incredibly large and still-expanding brewing empire, makes for an impressive tour. Wear comfy shoes—this involves a good half-mile of walking, and includes many impressive beer and snack pairings. Also, meet the founders of the empire: Same as last year, the namesake brothers of the company will be on duty greeting guests and checking IDs at the door.

Widmer Brothers Brewing, 929 N Russell

Expansion ZoneBreakside Brewery has a new home in Milwaukie, and it's huge. Check out the shiny tanks at their new brewing facilities and meet some of the most innovative and experimental minds in the industry. Or visit the brewers at their original location in the Woodlawn neighborhood, where Breakside's reputation for creative concoctions was born—and where you can score some pretty seriously tasty waffle fries.

Breakside Brewery, 820 NE Dekum (noon-4 pm); 5821 SE International, Milwaukie

New Kid in Town—Newcomer Base Camp Brewing Company was a crowd favorite at our second annual Malt Ball with their In-Tents Imperial Pale Lager. Offering a tour of their beautifully designed new digs in Southeast, as well as barbecue made with their own beer from food cart Smoke 'n' Spice, Base Camp is ready to be your new favorite.

Base Camp Brewing Company, 930 SE Oak

TIPS:

Take your time. After a couple stops, each tour will start sounding the same. Start with the bigger operations and move on to smaller (and shorter) tours. Ask questions of the brewers at the end of each tour to best learn what makes each brewery unique.

Eat something. Duh, right? But seriously, don't puke where these awesome people work just because you drank too much free beer on an empty stomach. Be a responsible adult and pack a granola bar or something.

Take a bus. There are special FREE buses that will be circling the city, stopping at featured breweries along the way and loaded with tons of cool people who also like beer. Seating is first come, first serve. Make some new friends, get out of your quadrant of residence, and stay off the roads.

For more information about bus schedules, suggested itineraries, and brewery offerings, visit oregonbeer.org/zwickelmania.

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