OBF_poster_2008.jpgYesterday, I was lucky enough to get into the Oregon Brewers Festival's Brewers Dinner in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. And if the 26 brews on tap are any indication of what to expect, then you will be sure to find some amazing suds this year.

Although the beer last night was only being served for the dinner and not the festival proper, I think it's safe to say you wont be disappointed if you head down to the waterfront tonight through Sunday. After all, there are 73 different breweries waiting to tantalize your palate.

You're also sure to expect a lot of beards, some alright drinking music, intermittent shouts of "woo hoo," and a good selection of food to slow the alcohol absorption.

I think last night's most surprising brew was Rock Bottom's sour. Surprising both because it was a full bodied, smooth and dynamic, and because it came from a national brew pub chain. But, I learned last night that Rock Bottom allows brewers at their various locations a good amount of leeway when crafting their beer, as long as they meet certain standards. What a great idea! I doubt I'll ever actually enter the door of Portland's Rock Bottom (just not my scene, ya know) but i do give them much respect for allowing a local brew master to create such a stunning brew.

So, yeah, go drink beer. But please bring some sort of strategy. It will be very easy to get lost in the sheer variety of taps and it's quite possible that you could miss your favorite. Here's some tips:

•If you meet a brewer, ask about the inspiration for their beer and then go drink it.
•Remember to rinse your mug once and awhile. Also, be sure to drink water.
•Pace yourself.
•Go out of your comfort zone. Check out the program, mark what looks interesting and hit those first.
•Generally it's better to progress from light beers to dark to preserve your palate.
•Make note of what you've already had and what you've liked. As the day wears on and your sobriety dwindles it will be easy to forget.
•Be nice to the guys in the green shirts. They have the power to put you out of the festival.
•I've been assured that a nice smile (and some cleavage) will grant you a heavier pour.
•And if you want to sound like a real beer snob, memorize this flavor wheel and use words like "catty" when describing your latest sample.