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Monday, July 25, 2016

Oregon Brewers Festival 2016 By the Numbers

Oh, how you wait for this annual tradition! Don't tell me it got old hat in 2008 and this is merely more evidence of this blog's certain decline into irrelevance--I know you love it! Hey, traditions beget traditions, and as surely as the OBF comes around each year, so does my by-the-numbers post.

New Trends
The biggest trend is definitely beers made with the help of our friend Lactobacillus. These little bacteria are used to make tart summery beers like gose and Berliner weisse, and boy are they all the rage now. If you count only those in the regular trailers, 20% are B-weisses or goses. Yes, one in five beers at the OBF is a Berliner weisse or Gose. Last year there were, I think, four or five altogether; this year there are 18. (If you throw in the foreign breweries, it boosts the total to 19, but drops the percentage to 17%.) Partially as a consequence of this trend (most Berliner weisses and all goses are made with wheat), the number of breweries using some grain in the grist beyond barley is nearly half--44%. This isn't surprising, unless you cast your memory back to about the turn of the century, when 85% to 90% would have been the norm, and when the remainders would have all been light American wheat ales and maybe one rye. Now oats and corn are commonplace and wheat is everywhere. Fruit beers continue to soar in popularity as well--they're now a quarter of all beers.

Also, after a couple of low-IPA years, they're back and popular. Once again, session IPAs outnumber imperial IPAs. Radlers had a momentary blip last year but are absent this year. There are only four pale ales, which shows just how far this once-dominant style has fallen. That has got to be an all time low.  Kolsches, amazingly, are absent as well. That may be the first time in a decade or more no kolsches have come to the fest. Frowny face. Nevertheless, Czech/German styles account for a quarter of the beers, while Belgian styles have fallen to just 4%. There are more pilsners than witbiers and saisons combined, which is an interesting reversal of past years.

Getting More International
The best trend by far in recent OBFs is the inclusion of international breweries. Last year, the Netherlands and New Zealand were highlighted, and Canada had a small presence. This year there will be beers from four other countries: China, Japan, Germany, and The Netherlands (breweries from the Netherlands always seem to make it--some guy must know a guy).

By the Numbers

Below are the annual breakdown of the breweries and beers. As always, last year's totals are included in parentheses.
  • Years since inception: 29
  • Total beers: 112 (105)
  • Total breweries: 84, plus 16 internationals (89)*
  • States represented: 15 (16)
  • Countries represented: 5 - US, Japan, China, Germany, Netherlands (4)
  • Percent Oregon: 61% (50%)
  • Percent California: 9% (10%)
  • Percent Washington: 11% (7%)
  • All Others: 19% (19%)

Total styles (by broad category): 31 (33)
Lagers: 15, 13%  (10)
IPAs: 27% (21%)
__- Standard IPA: 15 (6)
__- Session IPA: 6 (6)  
__- Double IPA: 5 (4)
__- CDA: 3 (0)
__- Fruit IPA: 0 (1)
__- White IPA: 0 (2)
__- IPL: 1 (2)

By style:
  • IPAs: 30 examples (22) 
  • Fruit/ Fruit Wheats: 26 (17)
  • Pale ale: 4 (15)
  • Saison: 2 (7)
  • Pilsner: 6 (4)
  • Abbey: 1 (4)
  • Stouts and porters: 8 (4)
  • Berliner Weisse: 8 (3) (plus 4 goses)
  • Kolsch: 0 (3)
  • Radler: 0 (3)

By Type:
  • Beers using spices/flavors: 41, 37% (21, 18%)
  • Fruit beers: 29, 26% (17, 16%)
  • Belgian styles: 5, 4% (15%)
  • German/Czech styles: 27, 24% (11%)
  • Beers not brewed to traditional style: 17, 15% ("many"--I punted)
  • Kettle-soured beers: 19, 17% (N/A)

Population Distribution
  • ABV of smallest beer (pFriem Mango Sour, Oersoep Schnappi and Buoy Dragon Weisse): 3.5% (3.0%)
  • ABV of largest beer (New Holland Dragon's Milk and Lost Abbey Serpent Stout): 11% (9.5%)
  • Average ABV: 5.9% (5.8%)
  • Beers below 5.5% ABV: 45% (47%)
  • Beers above 7% ABV: 20% (18%)
  • Fewest IBUs in Fest (Aslan Disco Lemonade): 1 (0)
  • Most IBUs at the Fest (Molen Hell and Damnation): 102 (100)
  • Average IBUs: 35 (37)
  • Beers between 0 and 40 IBUs: 66% (65%) 
  • Beers over 60 IBUs: 18% (9%)

*There are 88 beers pouring in the regular trailers, but Deschutes brought two (one gluten-free), and there is a an Omission (Widmer)


  1. I counted 8 Berliner weisses and 5 goses, for 13 total, but in your summary at top you say there are 18? Are you counting the somewhat generically-named "American sours"?

  2. As always, I feel that an "Oregon Brewers" Festival should be a much larger percentage of Oregon beers.