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Sandy Area Chamber holds its first Brewfest

by: KRISTY WHEELER, The first Sandy Brewfest June 15-16 will celebrate the Pacific Northwest's craft beer industry with 28 taps, wine, hard cider and draft root beer. Food concessions will be available, and local bands will offer entertainment.

Oregon's vibrant craft beer scene includes 108 brewing companies that operate 142 brewing facilities in 56 cities.

Residents and tourists who saunter to Sandy's Centennial Plaza on Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, will arrive in a microbrew lover and foodie's oasis, with more than 28 taps of craft beer, wine, hard cider, draft root beer and food concessions by Busy Bee Catering.

The Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first Sandy Brewfest, a celebration of the craft beer industry and community, with the festival running from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 15, and from noon Saturday, June 16, to 12:30 a.m. Sunday, June 17.

'A strong community and business community go hand-in-hand,' says Mitch Speck, interim chamber director. 'We have a bigger goal of driving community together. Bring your friends and neighbors. We want folks to visit Sandy and see what we're about.'

Sandy Brewfest, focused specifically on craft beer, is a separate event from the chamber's Music Fair and Feast that coincides with the Sandy Mountain Festival. Both Speck and Kristy Wheeler, the event organizer, are optimistic the brew fest will become an annual Sandy affair.

While Sandy no longer has its own brewery, the tap list for Sandy Brewfest features beers from as nearby as Mt. Hood Brewing in Government Camp and Fearless Brewing in Estacada.

'Fearless was my childhood nickname,' says Ken Johnson, owner of Fearless Brewing. 'When I started entering my beers in competitions, I used fearless as a name.'

After receiving a home brewing kit in 1995, Johnson made brewing a career. He and his wife, Bennett, celebrate their ninth year of business June 6, and they're delighted to participate in a brew fest so close to home.

'It's really exciting breweries are getting a foothold in the Mount Hood area and doing well,' Johnson says. 'I say that we have the greatest water on the planet for brewing - the magical waters of the Clackamas River.'

On Fearless Brewing's taps for Sandy Brewfest are the Scottish ale, its flagship beer, its cream ale, a 'light and approachable, easy-drinking beer,' and one keg of its peaches and cream beer.

The Sandy Brewfest stage will feature five bands in the late afternoon and evening Friday and Saturday. Kicking off Friday's festivities is Countryside Ride, a honky-tonk and western swing-infused country band, followed by Ants in the Kitchen, a blues, soul and rock act.

Jamalia, dubbed as sunny music for shady people, takes the stage Saturday afternoon, followed by Mike Branch Band, a combination of blues, rock and original tunes. Tank Mango will close out the night with classic rock covers.

Event organizers say the beer fest will happen rain or shine, with large tents available in case of rain. Minors are allowed with a parent until 8 p.m. each day, and free of charge under age 15.

'It's a community-focused event, with something for everyone,' Wheeler says. 'I'm excited for Sandy. A beer fest is an exceptional fit.'

Admission is $5, plastic mugs cost $5, souvenir wine glasses and beer mugs are $10 and tasting tickets are $1 each. While tastings for craft beer and cider are $1 or one ticket for 3 or 4 ounces, a full mug is $4 or four tickets, and wine is $4 a glass, with no samples.

Tasting packages, which cost $20, include a plastic beer mug or souvenir wine or beer glass and tasting tokens (13 for the first option and eight for the second). Purchase of a package allows for free readmission into the fest both days, so long as fest attendees bring their mugs, wristband and identification.

Designated drivers are able to buy stadium cups for $5 and receive free draft root beer or water during the festival.

For more information about the Sandy Brewfest, call the chamber at 503-668-4006, or visit facebook.com/sandybrewfest. Best Western is offering a 15 percent discount on rooms Friday and Saturday for event goers.