Did you know we make beer here in Oregon?

I know, it's a shock. We even make some pretty great beer. And there's this organization called the Oregon Brewer's Guild that has been putting on an event for four years now. Fifty-five breweries from all over the state open their malty doors to the public for free tastings, tours, and parties. It's called Zwickelmania, it's this Saturday the 18th from 11ish to 4ish, and yeah, I'd never heard of it either. But it sounds like a great excuse to start drinking well and early this weekend.

By the way, a zwickel is the tasting tap on a fermenting tank. It's as fresh as beer gets, folks. Most breweries will give you samples straight from the zwickel this Saturday.

Also, there are FREE buses to take you all around different quadrants of Portland so that you can sample to your heart's content. The NW route sounds best to me; the Rogue Farms Bus will start at Rogue Hall and hit McMenamin's Crystal Brewery, Rogue Pub/Deschutes Brewery, Bridgeport, Lucky Lab, and the New Old Lompoc. It's still the season of dark beers, so many breweries will be sampling new stouts and porters.

All participating breweries will be giving tours throughout the day.

Columbia River Brewing, Laurelwood Brewing, McMenamins Crystal Brewery, and Widmer Bros. promise some kind of free food, if you want to make a day of it. I'm especially excited about Full Sail's offerings of a free pint glass and pairing of chocolate and Dan's Satin Nitro Stout. Barley wine at Lucky Lab and a smoked dunckelweizen at Coalition Brewing are other intriguing options.

Zwickelmania promises to be entertaining and an all around great adventure in beer drinking, if you're up for it! I'm excited, anyway. What's not to like? Grab a friend and get on a bus!