Zwickelmania

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A once-a-year, behind-the-scenes tour at every microbrewery in Oregon. Meet the brewers and drink FREE BEER!

2016: Zwickelmania is Saturday, February 13th from 11am-4pm.  More than 100 breweries around Oregon are participating.  You can plan your trip here:  

You know that saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me”? Well it looks like I’ve made an ass out of myself when it comes to Zwickelmania. For the last couple of years I’ve seen the signs around town and totally wrote it off. Based on the name, I ASSUMED it was some kind of Belgian beer festival.  I hate Belgium beers (because of the banana and bubble gum flavors they often have) so I ASSUMED Zwickelmania was not for me, but I was totally wrong.  Totally an ass.

So what is Zwickelmania? Turns out, it’s a statewide brewery open house. One Saturday in February every brewery in Oregon lets the public behind the scenes for five hours, pouring free samples and giving tours. Did you hear that? Free beer!

Let’s go!

My gang decided to head over to the inner industrial southeast neighborhood to start at Hair of the Dog since none of us had been there before. They were pouring a great IPA. A great way to start the day.  I need to go back sometime and do a real tasting, because this place has some very unique and very strong beer.

After that it was off to Cascade Barrel House. This brewery is known for it’s sour beers, but I’m a big fan because they do a great job with fruit beer. Plus, they brew in wine barrels, creating some very complex and unusual flavors. For Zwickelmania, they had a tasting line, with five samples, the craziest one was called Bubonic Plague. It was dark, thick and strong. Kind of reminded me of a primordial soup…with alcohol. About as far from PBR as you can go.

Next stop, Buckman Botanical Brewery which is inside The Green Dragon. The cool thing about Buckman is that they do not use hops! That means no IPAs. Instead they flavor their beers with other plants like orange, chamomile, ginger and apple. We tasted a few then headed over to Base Camp for our last stop.

Much like when I visited a couple weeks ago, it was packed. But we managed to get in on the last tour of the day. This place is pretty impressive for being so new. They have huge tanks inside a big beautiful warehouse.   We were having a great afternoon of free drinks, but there was one thing still bothering me, the name “Zwickelmania”.  What does it mean?  What is a zwickel?  So I asked one of the brewers. This is a zwickel:

It is the tap or spigot that runs straight out of the tank. (although the urban dictionary has a very different definition). The festival is named Zwickelmania because all the breweries open up their zwickels to the public.  Mystery solved.  Although I still think it’s a dumb name.

After a few samples , Zwickelmania ended, the free drinks were over and we headed home.  Great day.
So next February, remember Zwickelmania! It’s your ticket to drinking for free in Portland.

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