Zwickelmania 2016

So time again for Zwickelmania. So this year, heading out on my own, I had planned on visiting eight breweries in inner south east Portland. The only problem was I had visited most of these breweries before. But that also now goes for most breweries in Portland. And they are all starting to look the same. But there were two that I had not visited before in this area and headed for those first. First stop was Berlic. I had already checked out their testing room on a pub crwal and they were brewing some good beer so I thought it worth it to see how they brewed. I got in the first group going through through their brewery. They were taking an educational approach to their tour and I really appreciate that although I have heard it all before. Every brewery is allow to set up there own program during Zwickelmania and many have been pressured by the crowd that shows up just to give out free samples and call it good. Berlic’s tour was done by their brewmeister and they were trying to explain the brewing process. They had samples of malts and hops and explained how from barley, hops, water, yeast and in their case love you got beer. And they also handed out a couple of samples of beer. So I appreciated this experiences.

Next I headed down to a new brewery that was not quite complete yet – Grixsen Brewing Co. They had been One Nation Brewing but just changed their name to Grixsen. They were actually selling samples for $3 and would let you walk in and look at their unfinished brewery if you could make your way through the crowd. Yep, it looked like all of the other micro breweries. So I headed out quickly and thought I would visit Ground Breaker which was close by. When I visited this Gluten free brewery three years ago you could enter through a side door, try some raw and finish beer and look around. This year you entered through the pub and had to wait for a tour. In the mean time they handed you menus to get you to order something. When the time came the crowd got funneled into their very small brew area. There you mostly stood shoulder to shoulder, got handed a couple of samples of beer to try, heard a little speech and then out you go. In this case I think the brewmeister would have liked to do more but Zwickelmania success has become its down fall for an educational experience.

So now I am getting pretty discouraged. In past Zwickelmanias I have good experiences with talking to brewmeisters, comparing the difference between conditioned and unconditioned beer, and overall a good educational experience. I could see with the crowds that is not possible. I did have more breweries on my list but they were all ones I had been to before. But hope spring eternal in beer fans so I thought would at least check a couple more out. Next went to Lucky Lab. They were pretty much just doing business as usual and I did not see any Zwickelmania activity so I headed on to Green Dragon/Buckman Brewery. The place was busy with a lunch crowd but at least had a person at the door to direct you to back for a tour. After waiting a bit they shuffled everyone in. Their brewmiester did a one minute speech and them directed everyone off to where they could get a free samples. So two hours of Zwickelmania was enough for me this year. So I called it a day and headed home.