An eclectic mix of more than 15,000 beer lovers, music fans and supporters of sustainable living annually come together the last weekend of June to “Drink Organic, Save the Planet, One Beer at a Time” at the North American Organic Brewers Festival. This year, they’ll have an extra day to celebrate, as the 9th annual event will take place June 27th through 30th at Overlook Park in North Portland, marking a first-time expansion to four days. Event hours are Noon to 9pm Thursday through Saturday and Noon to 5pm Sunday.
Admission into the event is free. The purchase of a $6 reusable, compostable cornstarch cup is required for tasting beer, as are tokens, which sell for $1 apiece. A full cup of beer or cider costs four tokens and a four-ounce taste costs one token; select beers cost double tokens. Patrons receive a $1 discount toward the tasting glass with a validated Tri-Met ticket, a ticket from the Hopworks Bike Corral or three cans of food for the Oregon Food Bank (limit one discount per person). The NAOBF benefits the Overlook Neighborhood and the Oregon Food Bank.
Designed to raise awareness about organic beer and sustainable living, the NAOBF typically serves up more than 50 organic beers and ciders from 40 different breweries. The breweries do not have to be certified organic, or even produce organic beers for their pub; many of the breweries represented at the festival choose to brew a one-off just for the event. Styles run the gamut from Belgian Whites to Cascadian Darks, offering something for every palate. There’s also live local music, organic food, sustainability-oriented vendors and non-profits, a soda garden with complimentary Crater Lake Root Beer for minors and designated drivers, and a children’s area with face painting and activities. The NAOBF is a family friendly event, and minors are welcome with parents.
The NAOBF is known as the most earth-friendly beer festival on the planet. Festival attendees sample beer from reusable and compostable cornstarch cups made from domestically grown corn by a zero-waste, solar-powered company. Electricity needs are met with a combination of biodiesel and solar generators. Volunteers receive organic cotton t-shirts (returning volunteers can wear past T shirts and get extra tokens instead). Food vendors are required to use compostable cutlery and plates and employ sustainable practices, and onsite composting and recycling stations are provided for festival waste and are supervised by recycling czars. The event typically keeps at least 90% of the more than 2,000 pounds of waste generated from going into the landfill.
Why an organic beer festival? Studies show that the world’s population currently consumes 30% more natural resources than the Earth’s ecosystems can replenish. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, commercial agriculture is accountable for 70% of the pollution in our country’s rivers and streams. Genetically modified ingredients can be found in nearly every grocery store. The NAOBF believes that education and exposure lead to awareness, and awareness can translate to passion. If everyone becomes passionate about sustainability, as a whole we can make the planet a cleaner and healthier place for all of us to inhabit. For more information visit naobf.org.