KLCC Toasts Tenth Round of Microbrew Festival
Story by Michael Guidice
Photos by Annabelle Klachefsky
Dozens of people mull around anxiously, waiting for their opportunity to tangle with the Jabberwocky from Central Point. Others count down the minutes as their chance to taste the coastal Yellow Snow approaches.
It’s Saturday night at the Lane Events Center and the doors are about to open on the tenth annual KLCC Microbrew Festival. The Jabberwocky is Walkabout Brewery’s strong, creamy ale, and the infamous Yellow Snow is actually Rogue Ales’ tasty India Pale Ale (better known as IPA).
Hosted by KLCC-FM 89.7, the beer fest is the public radio’s largest off-air fundraising event of the year. With roughly fifty breweries in attendance, Oregon was well represented but microbrew delicacies from as far away as Germany and Hawaii were also showcased.
KLCC program director Don Hein says the partnership is a natural one as many of those who work at the station are beer connoisseurs with news director Tripp Sommer even being a home brewer himself.
“It’s a really good event. It’s well organized and the brewers really make it all happen,” Hein says.
While both domestic and international beers make appearances, the Events Center has an intrinsically Eugene/Portland ambiance as Hemp Ale flows freely and dreadlocks and scruffy facial hair are the look of choice for many.
Brewer Matt Speckenbach of Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) perhaps best symbolizes the area by offering adult beverages with health and environmentally conscious people in mind.
“All our beers are certified organic and we have the first carbon-neutral brewery in the U.S.,” Speckenbach says.
HUB is perhaps best known for its bar bike, a bicycle that doubles as a mobile bar fully equipped with two kegs. The contraption has been featured on the Discovery Channel and NPR and continues to garner interest and praise throughout both the beer and biking worlds.
With Portland being aptly named “Beervana” after taking over the lead in most microbreweries per capita (surpassing even Munich, Germany), it’s no surprise that aspiring young brewers are flocking to the Willamette Valley in droves.
“I grew up in [Las] Vegas and primarily moved here for the beer; there’s lots of respect for not only the brews but for the trade as well,” says Brett Thomas of Bend’s Silver Moon Brewing.
Local brewer Toby Schock of Springfield’s Hop Valley Brewing Co. echoes these sentiments as he came from North Dakota to experience elite brewing first hand.
“Oregon is the promised land of brewing; take away the money and we really do it for the art for it is our craft,” Schock passionately professes. “We put love in the beer,” he adds chuckling.
When asked what the best part of the festival is, Schock doesn’t think twice when he answers that it’s simple: everyone is drinking beer. He also praises the education that the festival is steeped in. People can experience new flavors and styles and truly experiment with all the different concoctions that are offered in a non-intimidating environment.
The scene Saturday was made complete by an appearance from the ubiquitous campus icon, Frog, who made it clear that he is an IPA guy at heart. A regular attendee, he lives by the mantra “the hoppier the better.” While he loves the locals, namely a cold Ninkasi Tricerihops, he enjoys being able to branch out and experience beers from afar as well. The tenth annual KLCC Microbrew Festival was happy to serve up his desires.