Friday, February 20, 2009

Mark your Calendars for the Return of the World's Largest Organic Brewers Festival

The North American Organic Brewers Festival June 26-28th at Overlook Park in Portland, Oregon will feature the world's largest variety of organic beers. Last year's festival featured 75 different organic beers, and drew about 15,000 attendees.

Beers poured at the NAOBF range from pilsner to porter, amber ale to Belgian wit, Irish-style stout to Northwest-style India Pale Ale. With breweries from across North America, England, Scotland, Germany, and Belgium the festival showcased some of the finest organic beers on the planet. Over the last decade organic brewers have carved out a solid niche within the craft brewing movement. Organic beer sales grew from $9 million in 2003 to $19 million in 2005, and to $25 million in 2006, according to the Organic Trade Association.

"I see organic as the next step in the craft brewing revolution's return to traditional beer ingredients and brewing methods," says festival organizer Abram Goldman-Armstrong, of the growing popularity of organic beer.

The NAOBF, presented by Roots Organic Brewing, is in its fifth incarnation, and promotes sustainable living as well as organic beer. Sustainability oriented vendors and non-profits set up alongside brewers. The NAOBF benefits the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, which fights cancer, often caused by agricultural chemicals, the Oregon Tilth, which promotes organic agriculture, and the Oregon Food Bank, which feeds the hungry. A diverse program of music runs throughout the event, and a children's area provides activities for youngsters. Local vendors offer a variety of cuisine from Sweetbriar Farm's pork, to Horn of Africa's spicy organic dishes, to veggie dogs.

NAOBF organizers strive to make this the most earth friendly beer festival in North America. Festival attendees sample beer from compostable corn-starch tasting glasses instead of the heavy plastic mugs used at other beer festivals. Composting and recycling stations are provided for festival waste and food vendors are required to use compostable cutlery and plates. Electricity needs are met with a combination of biodiesel and solar generators, volunteers wear organic cotton and hemp tshirts, and signage is reusable.

The NAOBF will be open from 12-9pm Friday June 26, 12-9pm Saturday June 27, and 12-5pm on Sunday June 28. A tasting glass is $6, and 4 oz. tastes of beer are $1 each. A $1 discount is given in exchange for three cans of organic food for the Oregon Food Bank or presenting a validated MAX light rail ticket.

The NAOBF was first held in 2003 at Port Halling Brewing Company, and since 2006 has been an annual event in Portland, Oregon, one of the greenest cities in North America. Portland is home to two all-organic breweries, NAOBF presenter Roots Organic Brewing Company, and Hopworks Urban Brewery, which debuted its beer at the 2007 NAOBF. A number of other brewpubs in Portland produce significant amounts of organic beer, including Laurelwood, Lucky Lab, and Alameda Brewhouse. Portland also tops the list of bicycle-friendly cities, is a leader in green building, and is home to more breweries than any other city in the world (38).
Overlook Park, between Fremont and Overlook Streets on North Interstate Avenue is located on the Yellow Line MAX, Portland's award winning light-rail system, two stops from downtown Portland. Festival attendees are encouraged to use the MAX, walk, or bike to reduce the carbon-footprint of the event. There is no on-street parking at the site, making responsible transportation the easiest way to reach the event.

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