Brewers Fest beer flights available at local Thirsty Lion pubs

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The Oregon Brewers Festival was canceled due to the pandemic

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This year’s Oregon Brewers Festival is canceled as a result of the virus, but organizers of the event are working to make sure you can at least have a taste of the actual event.

This would have been the 33rd annual Oregon Brewers Festival had it not been canceled. To keep the taste of Oregon craft beer makers within reach of everyone’s grasp for the rest of August, two Thirsty Lion Gastropub locations at Washington Square and Tanasbourne will be offering Brewers Festival beer flights. 

For a long time, the Oregon Brewers Festival has been the place to spend a warm August afternoon drinking beer along the west side sea wall at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Restaurants and festivals have traditionally been sampling grounds for new beer — but with many of those venues closed or slowed down, many small brewers are struggling. 

“This is the promotion here,” said Thirsty Lion Founder John Plew. “It’s a flight of beers for people which is really fun because they get a taste of small tasters of each one of the local beers.”

With each flight sold, both Thirsty Lion and Maletis Beverage will donate $2 to the Craft Brewery Relief Fund to help the small brewers make it through these hard times. If you thought the little brewers were not important — think again.

“We still have a market share for craft beer that is over 50%,” Rob Maletis of Maletis Beverage said. “A lot of people don’t realize this is the biggest market share of craft beer in the entire country.”

All those small craft beer makers have created jobs — thousands of them — that didn’t exist before the passage of the Brewpub bill, the single piece of state legislation that started the craft beer industry in 1985. 

The festival is an homage to small beer makers and a celebration of an industry that began in Oregon. Art Larrance is one of the original generations of beer makers who helped start an industry.

“Sometimes we get asked the question why did Oregon take off so much,” Larrance said. “Well it was because distributors like Maletis Beverage, it was because of people like the Widmer’s and the Ponzis and the McMinnamens and those of us at Portland Brewing that were all entrepreneurs.”

At the time the Brewpub bill enacted, many people thought hops were poll beans. Since then, Oregon State University has taken up the cause, creating new varieties of hops that give beer makers more varied flavors that go into their beers. So for the month of August, you can donate to not only the heritage of small-batch beer-making that began in Oregon — but to some of the new small beer makers that still have to pay their bills this month.

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