Raise your glass. Cheers.

Raise your glass. Cheers.

The third annual Medford Beer Week kicked off Saturday with a festival of local brews, food and music at Hanley Farm, a celebration that drew hundreds through the gates by early afternoon.

The Brews, Burgers and Bluegrass event, put on by the local-economy booster group Thrive, was intended to highlight the numerous craft brewers who have emerged locally.

"We thought it'd be a great opportunity to highlight the explosion of microbreweries," said Wendy Siporen, Thrive executive director.

The festival was the first of its kind for a Beer Week kickoff, originally part of an eat local event Thrive holds in September.

"We thought, oh, we should do this at the beginning of summer," Siporen said.

Eight local beer-makers attended, pouring samples of their brews while burgers sizzled on nearby grills and bluegrass music permeated the warm afternoon air, courtesy of four area bands.

"So far it looks pretty amazing. I love seeing all the families here," said attendee Amanda Coen. "I'm not a big beer person, but I told my husband I'd try all the different ones."

Medford Beer Week organizers said the annual week-long event is intended to highlight the industry.

"It is exploding. It's getting to be a big deal," said Chris Dennett, Beer Week co-organizer.

Tonessa Bacolas, co-owner of a store named Grains, Beans and Things, said home brewing has been booming locally, which feeds the growth of the microbrewery industry.

"Home brewers, they start small and then they find their niche in the brewing community," Bacolas said.

Nick Ellis, co-owner of Apocalypse Brewing Company, said the Rogue Valley is on its way to becoming a craft-beer destination.

"I think it was just beer's time," Ellis said. "People are discovering craft beer, and that it can have the same complexity and quality that wine has. There's really a boom going on right now."

Beer Week will continue through Saturday, June 15. A variety of events are scheduled to celebrate local and regional craft beers, including a kickball tournament today from 11 a.m. to dusk at Schoolhaus Brewhaus in Jacksonville, a line-dance party at Medford's Rocky-Tonk Saloon & Grill at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, and beer-with-food events at other locations.

Beer Week ends with the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 15, on Bartlett Street, between the parking garage and East Main Street. Look for 27 breweries offering more than 50 different beers, food booths and vendors.