Heating up for Beer Week
It may have been noon in Medford, but it was 5 p.m. somewhere as hundreds of Rogue Valley residents flocked Saturday, pint glasses in hand, to the Brews, Burgers and Bluegrass festival at EdenVale Winery, one of the first events in the city's fourth annual Beer Week.
Beer Week, first held in 2011, is a series of tastings, festivals and open houses intended to showcase the area's burgeoning craft brewing industry. The EdenVale event drew a total of 11 breweries from throughout Southern Oregon, ranging in size and offerings from larger brewers such as Southern Oregon Brewing to smaller producers such as Applegate-based Apple Outlaw ciders.
Mike Frederick, owner and brewer at Chetco Brewing, made the 2½-hour drive from Brookings to offer samples of his wares for eager patrons. Frederick, who won a silver medal for his Block and Tackle imperial stout at the 2014 World Beer Cup, said he gets lots of customers from Medford during both the summer and winter. "We've been open two years and one month and our tap room has been open for one month," he said, pouring tastes into pint glasses. "We're looking now at doing a limited release of our World Beer Cup beer."
As the Douglas County bluegrass band Sons of the Soil took the stage on the winery's lawn, Sacramento, Calif., residents Tamar Dawson and Chantelle Garvin were among the dozens wandering happily from taste to taste, Sipping on pints of jalapeño-spiced amber ale from Grants Pass' Griess Family Brewing. "You can taste the jalapeños," Garvin said. "It's like a Bloody Mary without the tomato."
Brandon Overstreet, brewer and co-owner of Swing Tree Brewing in Ashland, said he's looking to increase production of his beer to keep up with customer demand. Swing Tree, which opened its doors in 2013, is a "nano" brewery whose output allows only on-site sales of pints, he said. "We're trying to expand right now," he said. "We would like to get a few kegs out around Ashland to get the word out about our beer."
Beerweek will continue through June 20, when the event is capped by the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival in downtown Medford. A complete schedule of events is available at www.medfordbeerweek.com.