That was the beer that was: The year in beer, 2013
By John Foyston | Special to The Oregonian

A GREAT GABF: Oregon brewers had their best year in a while at Denver's Great American Beer Festival with 10 gold, seven silver medals and eight bronze...Barley Brown's/Baker City Brewing, Old Town Brewing, Harvester, Oakshire, Bend Brewing Co., Ninkasi and 10 Barrel were the gold medal winners.

GOLDEN LAGERS: Full Sail recently won seven gold and four silver medals for the eleven lagers they entered in the 2013 World Beer Championship --- further proof that they've used the equipment and know-how gained during a decade of contract brewing for Henry Weinhard's to become a Oregon's biggest, best lager brewer....which brings us to...

MORE AND BETTER CRAFT LAGERS: Craft breweries started as ale breweries in reaction to years of boring industrial lagers made with corn and rice adjuncts. A generation ago, ales were missing in action and almost never available from domestic brewers, so most craft beers have been ales, which are quicker to brew and often more flavorful. But's great to see craft breweries starting to brew more amazing lagers, now that they have enough fermentation capacity to spare tanks for the six or so weeks needed for lagers (ales, ferment in about 8-10 days.) Saxer led the way 20 years ago, a classic case of being before its time, Full Sail carries on the tradition and smaller breweries such as Heater Allen and Occidental concentrate on wonderful craft lagers, but many breweries now have a lager or two in the cooler.

Oregonís 150 -plus brewing companies donated more than $1.8 million of product and money to community non-profits in 2012, the last year I have Guild info for. Retail sales of Oregon-made beer sold in the state totaled more than $350 million in 2012. In total, the brewing industry contributes $2.83 billion to the stateís economy and employs roughly 29,000 people directly and indirectly

BEST EXAMPLE OF THAT GENEROUS SPIRIT: Brewpublic, one of Oregon's most popular beer blogs celebrated five years in October and raised money for founder and friend Angelo deIeso, who had a crazy couple of months that included grand mal seizures, emergency brain surgery and huge medical bills. Oregon breweries, pubs and beer fans continue to raise money for Angelo at dozens of events that are a way of giving back to someone who has contributed so much to the Oregon craft beer community.

EMBRACING THE DARK Why rage at the dying of the light, why not drink to it? Astoria's Fort George honors the darkest and shortest month of the year with the ultimate celebration of stout: Stout Month --- all stouts, all the time. The Festival of the Dark Arts (coming up Feb. 15, 2014) is the day the entire brewery block is given over to arts, crafts, music and more than 50 stouts from around the region: get a room for the night and wear dark clothing to guard against stout stains...

RETURN OF AN OLD FAVORITE, PT.1: One of Beervana's grand old names returned when the company that owns Pyramid/Magic Hat Brewing revived the Portland Brewing brand and brought back Zig-Zag Lager, Black Watch Porter, Mac's Amber and other old --- and new --- favorites. Virtually nobody from the original brewery is involved, but Fred Bowman, who co-founded Portland Brewing in 1986, says the move honors the brewery's place in Portland beer history.

PEOPLES' CHOICE FAVE FEST: Zwickelmania, the once-a-year backstage pass when breweries around the state open their doors to thousands of visitors for tours and sampling. The Oregon Brewers Guild puts it on, and judging from the comments I heard during the year, it's the favorite fest of many Oregon beer fans. Named for the tap on fermenters that allows brewers to sample beer as it's aging, Zwickelmania happens once again on February 15, 2014 </cq> ...don't miss it.

GLASSNOST: The Oregon Brewers Festival, Oregon's biggest beer festival, and the biggest outdoor fest on the continent, had 84 beers on tap for this, it's 26th year, and for the first time, they were served in real glasses, not those insecticide-smelling plastic mugs we loved to hate. A small thing, perhaps, but many commented on what a difference it made...

PORTLAND BEER: Crafting the Road to Beervana Released in September, Pete Dunlop's book, is the first covering the history of beer and brewing in Portland and has a significant focus on the origins of craft beer, and it corrects some of the oft-repeated stories --- such as the timeline and events surrounding the 1985 brewpub law --- that got a little tweaked in the repeating.

2013's MOST IMPROVED FESTIVAL: Portland's biggest fresh hop festival is put on by the Oregon Brewers Guild and is the flagship of Oregon fresh hop fests. So it was a disappointment in 2012 when beers ran out on Saturday afternoon and lines lengthened as tempers got shorter. This year, the logistics were seamless, the weather was perfect, the beers excellent and the venue --- dear old Oaks Park --- couldn't have been better.

THE $24,000 HALF-RACK: Hair of the Dog Owner/brewer Alan Sprints
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