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Fun on tap for Beer Week

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Chris Dennett, founder of Medford Beer Week, doesn’t want the frothy beverage to be the only thing drawing people to the 11-day event.

“I always try to tell people ... to make the events something that would be fun to do even if there wasn’t beer there,” says the longtime Medford resident and owner of three local restaurants and bars.

That’s probably why, from now through June 14, Beer Week visitors can choose to do anything from making Father’s Day cards to watching anime to building robots — all while sipping suds ranging from the rich and smoky to the fresh and pungent.

Partly because the annual experience runs 11 days and 12 nights, each of which typically includes about 10 events to choose from, it’s difficult for Dennett to keep track of actual attendance. He says it’s also not easy to know where people are coming from to take part.

“What I sort of suggest to people is essentially choose a place you like and go to some events, or choose some events that look cool and go to some places,” Dennett says.

The event began as a way to foster community around beer. Dennett sees it as something Medford can call its own amid the other food and drink heritages in the Rogue Valley, including wineries, the Oregon Cheese Festival in Central Point and the Oregon Chocolate Festival in Ashland.

“We sort of thought that beer would be the kind of thing that Medford could grab onto, that Medford could sort of be the beer nexus,” Dennett says, before acknowledging that he wants to see the event continue to grow with that vision in mind.

Some crossover exists between the culinary festivals, however. Melodie Picard, owner of the Oregon Cheese Cave, said Beer Week is a chance to branch out from the more established connections her business has to the wine community.

“For me it’s always fun, having fun through cheese, and then cheese goes with so many things,” Picard says. “I’m trying to get people to be more playful with that. To me, it’s the future of the Oregon Cheese Cave — an annual opportunity to showcase beer and cheese.”

The size of the breweries and hosts range widely. Bigger players such as Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewing Company are around for tap takeovers, and at a Friday event it brought a hat press to make custom hats. Visitors can also find brews from smaller operations like Arch Rock Brewing Company out of Gold Beach.

The theme of the events can be as eclectic as the size of the operations. Local food truck CBD Joe’s will be at Osmo’s Alehouse the evening of June 11, along with staff from Jackson County Library Services, in an event called Bots, Beer and the Rise of Invention.

Visitors will be able to build robots while sipping Osmo’s beverages and, if they sign up for their very first library card, get a free beer. Happy hour prices will be offered to everyone who shows up with their own library card.

Jason Osborne, co-owner of CBD Joe’s, the only food truck in the county offering CBD in menu items, says the cannabidiol could end up helping anybody who might indulge generously in any alcoholic beverages.

“There’s nothing better to bring them back down than CBD,” Osborne says.

The event culminates with the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival at Pear Blossom Park Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. For tickets to the festival and a full list of Beer Week events, see www.medfordbeerweek.com/.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

Beerworks in downtown Medford is just one of many locations around Medford , Central Point and Jacksonville that will feature events during Medford Beer Week.{ }Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
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