Small is beautiful in the parking lot at John's Marketplace
Not too many years ago in Portland it was only when the sun started showing up regularly that the beer fest season would start.
Now in Southwest Portland, you don't have to wait that long.The possibility of late-April showers and the annual Nano Beer Fest at John's Marketplace go hand in hand this weekend.
"What is a nano beer?" was the question asked 12 years ago by the owners of Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub in Tigard when a "regular" named Oliver Manuel presented them with the Nano Beer Fest idea.
"It's beer made by the smallest licensed brewery you can have," he told them.
"We love it. Let's do it," the folks at Max's said.
And they did. The first Nano Beer Fest was held in the early spring of 2008 on Main Street in Tigard.
Since then, the annual event has found a home at the oldest commercial establishment in Multnomah Village, actually in its parking lot: John's Marketplace (est. 1923).
Twenty five brewers serving 50 beers will be on hand when the event opens Friday, April 26 at 2 p.m. It runs through the weekend, opening at Noon on Saturday and Sunday. It closes at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Attendees must be at least 21 on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is open to
all ages. John's Marketplace is located at 3535 SW Multnomah Blvd.
The 25 brewers participating in this year's Nano Beer Fest (NBF) can be found at www. nanobeerfest.com/2019-nano-beer-fest
"Just beer this year," said Brandon Mikel, one of the two men putting on the NBF. "We had meads and ciders last year but mead is pretty expensive and the cider people felt a little out of place. This really is a beer fest."
Mikel estimates that about 1,000 people will pass through the parking lot tents over the three days. Compared to most other beer festivals, the crowd is manageable and lines never get too long, he said.
Besides the charge one gets from discovering a new beer, the chance to meet the woman or man who made it is a big attraction for attendees.
"I would prefer that the brewers are there pouring their own beer all weekend. Shattered Oak Brewing is a good example. They make sure they can be there the whole time and their hard work pays off," Mikel said.
Shattered Oak is one of the NBF success stories he likes to point to. Owners Brandon and Greg Neldner's Oregon City operation will be the featured "2019 Alumni Brewer" this year. They recently opened their own brew pub, The Hive, at 13851 Beavercreek Road.
There is no official definition of nano breweries. Here are a few stabs at nailing it down, "breweries that start with smaller-than-traditional batch sizes," or "a scaled-down microbrewery, often run by a solo entrepreneur, that produces beer in small batches" or "bigger than a homebrewer but smaller than your local craft brewpub." The US Treasury Department was surprisingly concise with its definition: "very small brewery operations."
You probably won't recognize the names of most of the 25 brewers this weekend, but you may have heard of some other beers that started out as nano beers: Heater-Allen and The Commons in Oregon, Dogfish Head from Delaware and Pike out of Seattle.
Some brewers in the parking lot this weekend may be using the NBF to determine if there's much of a market for the beer they're making.
The three top breweries will be named and there will be a people's choice award sponsored by Loyal Legion, a Southeast Portland brewpub. The top ten beers chosen by attendees who vote will be on tap there in May. (Loyal Legion - 710 Southeast Sixth Avenue, Portland.)
Here are some of the details of this weekend's Nano Beer Fest from the organizers:
Individual participation cost is $20 for a keepsake logo glass and 10 beer tickets PLUS a special ticket to try a 3-way collaboration beer from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners from the 2018 NBF judging. 1 ticket will yield one 2oz pour, 2 tickets a 4oz pour and 3 tickets will get a full pour (7oz). Additional tickets will be available for purchase at $1.00 each. Friday and Saturday are 21+ and Sunday is all ages Family Day, so kids are welcome.