The heaviest snowfall of the winter didn’t stop beer enthusiasts Saturday from visiting more than a dozen breweries across Central Oregon during Zwickelmania, a craft-beer open house.
The 10th annual event, created by the Oregon Brewers Guild, is named after the zwickel, the sampling valve on the side of a fermentation tank. It has grown into a two-weekend, statewide celebration with about 150 breweries offering behind-the-scenes tours and beer samples right from their tanks.
Kevin Meyer, lead brewer at Worthy Brewing in Bend, said with the snowfall, he wasn’t sure how many people would be there when the doors opened at 11 a.m. But to his surprise, people were there and ready to tour the brewing facility.
“We are having a better turnout than last year,” Meyer said. “And I’m surprised with all the snow.”
Meyer offered visitors two experimental hop beers he and the other brewers created. But the day wasn’t just about free samples.
“We get to meet people, and we get a lot of feedback,” Meyer said. “Beer festivals are similar opportunities, but to have them in our own space, it gives people a chance to get involved.”
Bend residents Paul and Irene Elston made their first stop of Zwickelmania at Worthy Brewing. Paul Elston sampled a stout beer, while his wife tried the brewery’s Big O.G. IPA.
“This has me dreaming of Elk Lake,” Irene Elston said. “Summer days at the lake. This beer is coming with me.”
Irene Elston helps physical therapists run their businesses, and she also runs the popular Instagram profile, This Bend Life.
“We are living the Bend life today,” she said.
Her husband works for a freight broker handling shipments of produce in Oregon and Washington. Seeing the breweries filled with shipments of beer ready for delivery reminded him a bit of his job.
“For me, this is really cool,” Paul Elston said. “I get to see behind-the-scenes of how its done, how it’s produced.”
At Crux Fermentation Project, visitors took a self-guided tour through the brewery operation. They were able to talk with Crux brewers and sample beer pouring directly out of a nail-hole in wooden barrels.
“It’s neat to show our facility here, which has always purposely been facing the brewhouse,” said Jason Randles, marketing manager at Crux. “Now, we can just open that up even more freely on a day like today.”
Dan Pedersen, a brewer at Crux, said he relishes the opportunity to share his passion with other beer lovers.
“I always like giving brewery tours and talking about beer, so it’s fun to bring a bunch of different people in and have them taste our beers and learn a little bit more about brewing,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen said he enjoys cooking and learning how chefs prepare meals. Zwickelmania is similar to letting people in a kitchen to see how their food is made, he said.
“I think it’s good for people to know what is going in their beer,” Pedersen said. “It’s all natural ingredients. A natural process done for thousands of years.”
Larissa Roberts and Fiona Christoe, laboratory technicians at Summit Medical Group Oregon-Bend Memorial Clinic, spent Saturday following a Zwickelmania map to the breweries in the area. Their first stop was at Crux, where they each sampled the Cruising Altitude double IPA.
Roberts, who prefers darker beers, said Zwickelmania got her out of her comfort zone of breweries and beers.
“I’ve been here 14 years, and this is the first time I’ve actually been to Crux,” Roberts said.
Christoe said she doesn’t have a favorite type of beer, but rather enjoys tasting all kinds.
Zwickelmania was perfect for Christoe to sample different beers, and see how they are made.
“I like coming here and just be able to go back behind the scenes. Behind the gate,” Christoe said. “Everyone is here for the same reason.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com