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Monday, July 22, 2013

Oregon Brewers Fest By the Numbers

 As surely as the Oregon Brewers Festival arrives each year, so it is accompanied by the Beervana OBF By the NumbersTM. Aside from inertia, there's a reason to run this exercise each year.  One can see, sort-of statistically, what the trends are for the year.  (I was doin' OBFBtN when Nate Silver was still "Poblano," I tell you--where's my ESPN contract?)  So what do we see this year?  IPAs are way down--thankfully!--and fruited beers, especially fruity wheat beers are up.  In fact, for the first time ever, fruit beers outnumber IPAs.  Brewers seem more interested in German styles and lagers this year than ever.  (The year I went to Germany and wrote obsessively about these beers.  Hmmm ... coincidence?)  The arms race for hops took a year off, as well.  Although the average IBUs barely budged, 69% of the beers have 40 IBUs or fewer.  Strong beers are also way down--a very good trend for a fest that has 20,000 people screaming simultaneously in 85 degree heat.

But enough of the blather.  Without further ado, I give you the full rundown.

Years since inception: 26
Total beers: 84 (84 in 2012)
Total breweries: 82 (82)
States represented: 12 (14)
Percent Oregon: 57% (52%)
Percent California: 14% (15%)
Percent Washington: 14% (8%)
All Others: 15% (25%)

Total styles (by broad category): 28 (28)
Lagers: 13 (12 to 1)
IPAs: 14% (26%)
__- Standard IPA: 9
__- Double IPA: 1
__- CDA: 2

By style:
__-  Fruit Wheats: 10 examples (NA)
__-  Pale: 9 (8)
__- Witbier: 3 (6)
__- Pilsner: 3 (4)
__- Cream Ale 3 (N/A)
__- Dortmund Export 3 (N/A)
__- Hoppy Lager 3 (N/A)
__- Kolsch: 3 (3)
__- Gluten-free: 2 (2)
__- Abbey: 0 (4)
__- Stouts and porters: 0 (3)

Beers using spices/adjuncts: 14, 17% ("lots")
Fruit beers: 16, 19% (17%)
Belgian styles: 12% (15%)
German/Czech styles: 18% (13%)
Totally weird beers: 15% (N/A)

ABV of smallest beer (Burnside Marionberry Berliner Weisse): 3.5% (4%)
ABV of largest beer (Terminal Gravity Craft Malt Liquor*): 10% (11%)
Average ABV: 6.0% (6.2%)
Beers below 5.5% ABV: 32 (31)
Beers above 7% ABV: 14 (24)
Fewest IBUs in Fest (three-way tie): 8 (4)
Most IBUs at the Fest (Stone Delicious IPA): 116 (103)
Average IBUs: 38 (39)
Beers between 0 and 40 IBUs: 58 (53)
Minimum years in a row 21st Amendment has brought Watermelon Wheat: 1 (0)**

*Not a malt liquor.
** The streak starts anew.  Until last year, 21st Amendment had gone a decade sending WW.


  1. Thanks for putting this together Jeff. It's definitely interesting to see these stats broken down. I'm surprised no one is bringing a stout/porter, but I guess it makes sense.

  2. The changes seem to me both logical and, for me as a first time attendee, fortuitous!

  3. Jeff, thanks for the recap. Oregon certainly seems to be a bellwether in the world of craft beer so these sort of statistics can shed light on industry trends as a whole. I admit I'm surprised that the fruity beers are up in popularity. Myself, I find that a Pyramid apricot makes for a great breakfast beer but too sweet to have more than one. IPA's being and blow your face off strong beers being down is also a good thing in my opinion too. Don't get me wrong IPA's are great but when that is all you can find you lose variety and 9% abv plus means you are face down before you even begin to really sample the wares. I too am a German beer style fan so that news certainly excites me. My question is how quickly do you think these trends will spread across the country? I think it is a great trend and hope it does spread.

  4. Cask: 0. Again.

    But it comes by the pint at the Fringe Fest.