Later this month, beer enthusiasts will be able to get “behind the scenes” at numerous Oregon breweries, including two right here in The Dalles.
In February, breweries will participate in the ninth annual “Zwickelmania,” a craft beer celebration sponsored by the Oregon Brewers Guild, a nonprofit trade association representing the state’s independent breweries.
Two local breweries — Sedition Brewing Company and Freebridge Brewing — will join in the festivities for the first time.
This year, Zwickelmania will span two weekends. Portland-area breweries will be kicking off the brew party on Saturday, Feb. 18, while breweries in the Columbia River Gorge and elsewhere around Oregon will welcome their guests on the following Saturday, Feb. 25.
On both Saturdays, the activities at the various breweries run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sedition, located at 208 Laughlin Street, will be offering guided brewery tours every half hour on Feb. 25, starting at 11 a.m. and continuing through 4 p.m. There will also be beer tastings, food pairings, and a complimentary glass with Sedition’s dramatic fist logo.
Sedition was not able to participate in last year’s festival because it did not open until September.
However, co-owner Aaron Lee said he and his wife, Kelley, have been looking forward to the 2017 event for many months.
“We’ve been waiting for it and thinking about it since last year. We’ve been planning it since that time,” Lee said. “It’s the beer kickoff for the state of Oregon.”
Lee said Sedition plans to have eight beers on tap for Zwickelmania, and will offer some samples direct from the company’s stainless steel brewing tanks.
At Freebridge Brewing Company, 710 E. Second Street, beer aficionados will be able to meet brewer Mike Boler, tour the brewery, enjoy beer tastings and appetizers, and enjoy live music from Al & Nolan Hare.
Freebridge co-owners Steve and Laurie Light said the brewery was so new last year — it had just opened in early January — that they did not have time to participate in last year’s Zwickelmania.
“We’re really looking forward to it this year,” Steve Light said. “Zwickelmania has been around for a long time, and we’re expecting a pretty solid crowd.”
Light said Freebridge would have its brewing tanks full with a trio of beers for this year’s event.
“There will be three beers to choose from,” Light said. “Our Double IPA, the Helles Lager, and a third beer to be announced.”
Light added that he welcomes the fact Sedition is also participating in Zwickelmania, and believes that will benefit everyone involved.
“Having two breweries instead of one definitely brings more people to the area,” Light said.
Zwickelmania takes its name from the word “zwickel,” which is a sampling port that mounts on the outside of fermentation or conditioning tanks and allows brewers to tap samples for quality assurance and control. The weekend celebrations of beer provide unique opportunities to taste beers where they are produced and interact with the brewers who created them, and the event has been growing in popularity. According to Brian Butenschoen, executive director of the brewers guild, more than 42,000 people toured 120 participating breweries statewide last year, and the number is expected to increase for 2017.
“With two weekends, people from around Oregon can visit the 60-plus breweries open in the Portland metro area on Feb. 18, and keep the beer flowing on the 25th at breweries that will be open for tours in central Oregon, eastern Oregon, Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, southern Oregon, the coast and the Willamette Valley,” Butenschoen said.