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Oaks Park hosts 'Fresh Hop Beer Fest'

by: PETER KORCHNAK - Oregon Brewers Guild Executive Director Brian Butenschoen at this year's Fresh Hop Beer Fest at Oaks Park.The Oregon Brewers Guild treated Inner Southeast beer lovers on Saturday, October 6th, to a taste of microbrews made “with hops fresh off the vine”, at the Fresh Hop Beer Fest – again held at Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood.

According to Brian Butenschoen, Executive Director of that nonprofit trade association, more than 2,300 visitors – up by 50% from last year – turned out under a large tent at The Oaks to sample beers made from the annual mid-August to mid-September Oregon hop harvest.

Butenschoen remarked, “Forty-seven brews were on tap – the largest collection of Oregon-made fresh hop beers ever present in one place at one time!”

Sarah Tishko, office manager for a construction company and a PSU School of Business student, volunteered at the first half of the event, pouring Cascade Brewing Company’s “Fresh Hop Porter” and Gigantic Brewing’s “Most Interesting Beer in the World”.

“The turnout has been pretty good,” Tishko told THE BEE at about 1 pm. “The ‘Porter’ has a following, so I’ve been busy. I’m look forward to trying it after my shift.”

Sipping “Hop Wrangler Red” by the Three Creeks Brewing Company, live-show artist Kenneth Fuller was covering a blank sheet of butcher paper, on his picnic table, with a ballpoint-pen drawing of a still life – featuring beer paraphernalia.

“Events like these drive me forward to create,” smiled Fuller, a Portland native, as he put finishing touches on a keg. “I love beer, I love Portland, it’s inevitable. It’s cultural here.”

Butenschoen attributed the success of this year’s Fresh Hop Beer Fest to several factors: a close collaboration with the Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance business association; an improved kids’ activity area – including a root beer and lemonade stand whose proceeds benefited the Llewellyn Elementary School Foundation; the home-brewing demonstration by Portland U-Brew of Westmoreland; and the long spell of beautiful sunny weather, which was soon to draw to a close.

Additionally, both major Oregon college football teams played their games at home, which helped drive attendance earlier in the day.

However, according to comments on the event’s Facebook page, increased attendance had a flipside: Long lines, and taps running out. Chris Shifman wrote that organizers ran out of event glasses by 3:30 pm, and 18 taps were “dead” by 4 pm. Stephanie Patrick Smith got a refund for unused tasting tickets because “taps were all blown by 5:45 pm.”

Butenschoen acknowledged the issue, saying, “People drank more than at any other Fest we’ve done. But, because people came early and had other plans afterward, no incidents took place.” And he expects to be better prepared for a huge crowd next year.