Ahhh….Bend Brewfest. For fans of summertime and craft beer, this sudsy nirvana is the equivalent of riding a rainbow-striped unicorn into a blissful field of sunshine and hop-scented glitter.
That sounded weirder than I meant it to.
With roughly 200 beers on tap, the 2018 Bend Brewfest promises to be three days of glorious craft beer goodness from more than 70 breweries (with some cideries and wineries in the mix for the non-beer peeps).
But let’s focus on the beer, and on everything you need to know to have the best possible experience at Bend Brewfest 2018.
Hang on to that mug
During Bend Brewfest, think of your mug as your personal holy grail. It’s good for all three days of the festival, which is slated for August 16-18 for 2018. That means you can take your time sampling sours on Thursday, IPAs on Friday, and porters on Saturday (just as an example…there are lots more styles to choose from!) You can purchase individual beer tokens to keep the suds flowing.
Traditional tasting packages start at $20 and include 5 tokens. There are also collector mug packages starting at $30 that come with 10 tokens.
Make sure you have a sober ride
Pop quiz: If you were a cop who wanted to keep Bend’s neighborhoods safe from drunk drivers, where would you hang out the weekend of Bend Brewfest?
Beyond the risk of arrest, you really don’t want to kill your vacation buzz by killing yourself or someone else. Seriously, guys—don’t screw around with this. Walk, call a cab, enlist a sober pal, or summon an Uber or Lyft.
They’ve even made it extra-easy by creating a special pickup and dropoff zone right on Shevlin-Hixon near the walkway that leads to Will Call. If you use Lyft and enter promo code BENDBREW, you’ll get 25% off for two rides to/from Brewfest.
Leave the dogs at home (and bring the kids before 5 p.m.)
Can’t find a sitter? Believe it or not, Bend Brewfest is kid-friendly (at least before 5 p.m.) While I personally prefer to leave the young’uns at home and enjoy the event as a grownup, plenty of folks enjoy taking in the scene with their well-behaved offspring in tow. Just don’t let them zip around like crazed maniacs knocking beer out of strangers’ hands, and don’t get so blitzed that you abandon the stroller beside a porta-potty.
If your kids have four legs and a tail, they’ll need to sit this one out. For Fido’s safety, dogs aren’t allowed at the 2018 Bend Brewfest.
There’s an app for that
This year, Brewfest partnered with beer-rating app Untappd so guests can search and sort beers by rating, location, style, or even by beers their friends have tried. While I’m a huge fan of taking a highlighter to the print guide to mark my picks old-school style, having the beers on Untappd will make the festival even easier to navigate for peeps who love managing things from their phones. Here’s where you’ll find Brewfest on Untappd.
Water’s good for more than paddling
I know it’s hard to fathom drinking anything besides beer or cider at the Brewfest, but you’ll hate life in the morning if you don’t drink plenty of water along the way.
Gobs of water stations are scattered throughout the venue. Once you’ve downed a brew sample or two, locate one of these stations, fill your tasting mug with water, and chug that thing down. Repeat after every few samples.
If you’d prefer to keep your water vessel separate from your beer one, bring your refillable water bottle and gulp from it often. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Take frequent food breaks
The food at this year’s Brewfest is out-of-this-world amazing, with vendors ranging from ACME NYC Sub Shop to Island Noodles to Senior C’s Street Tacos and much more. You can see a full lineup of food cart vendors here.
Not only will your belly be happy with you for filling it full of tasty goodness throughout your Brewfest experience, but the rest of your body will thank you for giving it something to absorb the alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach is no-bueno.
Make a plan and stick with it
Whether you’re using the Untappd app or relying on the handy printed guide you picked up at the entry gate or in recent issues of The Bulletin, it’s smart to go in with a plan.
With more than 70 breweries, cideries, and wineries attending the 2018 Bend Brewfest, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to taste everything. Make a note of your top choices, including the dates and times of anything on X-Tap that tickles your fancy. Then consult the map so you know exactly where to find them.
It’s not a bad idea to flag a few b-team brews in case there’s a last-minute substitution for one of your first-choice picks or if something runs out. Just go with the flow and know there will be no shortage of tasty beer to try.
The weather is expected to be hot for the 2018 Bend Brewfest, but temps drop fast at night. Wear short sleeves and shorts/skirt, but bring a sweatshirt for evening. Stick with sandals or sneakers, ladies—this is not the event to bust out those five-inch stilettos. You’ll be on your feet for hours walking on grass that’s damp with spilled beer, so choose your footwear wisely.
Don’t forget to wear something with pockets or carry a small, casual purse to hold those beer tokens. I have a special cross-body bag I got at Clementine Urban Mercantile that’s the perfect size to hold my Hydro Flask, cash, ID, beer tokens, phone, glasses, lip balm, and a light sweatshirt. If you don’t have something similar, hit Clementine or their sister store in the Old Mill District, Hello Sunshine, to find your own. A purse makes an awesome Bend souvenir, plus it’s handy for future events!
Though you can use a card for admission and at the merchandise tent, some of the food vendors require cash. There’s an ATM on-site, but you’ll pay hefty fees. Better to hit your own bank’s ATM before heading to the venue.
Chillax in the Chill Tent
This year you can get out of the sun and mellow out for a bit in Bend Brewfest’s 30-foot-by-30-foot Chill Tent. It features fans, misters, and comfy Adirondack chairs, and makes the perfect place to rest and recharge. The Chill Tent will also have large poster-sized prints of the X-Tap schedule, all of the Brewfest beers sorted by style, and a list of the daily activities at this year’s festival.
Don’t forget the schwag
Want a little something (besides a hangover) to remember your Bend Brewfest experience? Browse the artisan tents to find a perfect souvenir. This year you’ll find awesome body art, badass kilts, hop-inspired jewelry, and more, plus plenty of Brewfest logo gear like T-shirts and sweatshirts. Check out a full lineup of artisan vendors here.
They’re serious about last call
Taps close at 10:45 and they DO NOT MESS AROUND with this. Cutoff times are a legal issue, and it doesn’t matter if you’re next in line for that fab beer you’ve been thinking about all night. Do yourself a favor and set an alarm on your phone so you’ve got plenty of time to grab that final brew before your time’s up.