Autumn Beer Events and Biergartens in the Willamette Valley
For fans of quality craft beer, there may be no finer time of year than September and October.
End-of-summer hop harvests lead to tap lists laden with fresh-hop beers and with a calendar chock-full of local Oktoberfest celebrations: You’ll find most breweries churning out smooth-drinking seasonal lagers, including dunkels, Märzens, and more. (And, of course, pumpkin beers have their fans.)
These events aren’t just about whetting our collective appetites for good beer and greasy sausage, either. Some, such as Mount Angel Oktoberfest, reflect a town’s storied history; others, like the St. Paul Fresh Hop Festival, tip their cap to one of the Willamette Valley’s cornerstone industries: growing hops.
So if you’re looking to enjoy the seasonal bounty—whether at a local Oktoberfest celebration, broader beer festival, or German-themed biergarten—here’s a guide to making the most of fall throughout the Willamette Valley.
Mount Angel Oktoberfest
When: Sept. 12-15, 2019, with numerous events each day
Where: Mount Angel, with events throughout town
More info: 855-899-6338
With a four-story glockenspiel and German-inspired restaurants, it always kind of feels like Oktoberfest in the town of Mount Angel, set against the rolling hills of the Willamette Valley. After all, the town was founded in the late 1800s by German settlers. But the town truly comes alive each September with a renowned Oktoberfest celebration—and has done so for more than 50 years and counting.
The festivities include German-inspired live music, an Oktoberfest Olympics that leans heavily on audience participation, and—of course—plenty of craft beer at venues throughout town. Selections include beer imported from Spaten (one of the world’s most famous breweries, based in Munich), seasonal lagers from Widmer Brothers Brewing and 10 Barrel Brewing Co., and beers from the Benedictine Brewery at nearby Mount Angel Abbey.
St. Paul Fresh Hop Festival
When: 2-10 p.m. Oct. 12, 2019
Where: Jaycee Bullpen, 4258 Park Ave., St. Paul
Hops are traditionally harvested throughout the Pacific Northwest each summer—and while the vast majority are stored and processed for later use, a not-insignificant amount are claimed by breweries for fresh-hop beers every summer and early fall.
Those beers—mostly pale ales and IPAs, though you may see fresh-hop farmhouse beers and other eclectic styles—use hops that have generally been picked in the 24 hours prior to brewing. The resulting beers, usually available between mid-September and October, are loaded with dramatic flavor profiles that can showcase citrus, pine, floral, and jammy notes, depending on the hop variety and how soon it was used in a beer. Be sure to get there soon, as the season is fleeting: Fresh-hop beers can lose that vibrant, “fresh” flavor within a week or two of being kegged and tapped.
There may be no finer way to celebrate the season’s harvest than by attending the St. Paul Fresh Hop Festival. The event includes more than 20 fresh-hop beers and ciders from local breweries and cideries, as well as food vendors and screenings of the day’s college football games.
In attending, you’re not just drinking good beer: You’re celebrating a long and storied history of Oregon hop growing. According to Oregon Aglink, Oregon led the world in hop production in 1932 and is today the second largest hop-producing state in the nation. And the vast majority of those hops are grown in the Willamette Valley, thanks to its fertile soil and moderate climate.
When: 12-7 p.m. Sept. 21, 2019
Where: Avery Park, 1310 SW Avery Park Drive, Corvallis
You could spend months drinking your way through the best breweries in the Willamette Valley—or you could just attend Septembeerfest in the heart of Corvallis and enjoy them all in one fell swoop.
The annual beerfest, put on by the Heart of the Valley Homebrewers homebrew club[RB3] , taps roughly 75 ales, lagers, ciders, and meads from craft purveyors mostly spread across the Willamette Valley. The craft beer selection runs the gamut from seasonal selections—think doppelbock, Märzen, and other Oktoberfest styles—to IPAs, porters, and farmhouse beers. Other attractions include live music, fare from local food vendors, and a free shuttle to and from the festival.
Best of all, you’re drinking for a good cause: Septembeerfest raises funds for Linn Benton Food Share, Heartland Humane Society, and the Heart of the Valley Homebrewers’ Endowment at Oregon State University.
When: 12-9 p.m. Oct. 12, 2019
Where: Allegory Brewing, 777 N.E. Fourth St., McMinnville
Can’t decide between German-inspired Oktoberfest beers and pine-tinged fresh-hop ales? You don’t have to at ORtoberfest, a festival devoted solely to those of-the-moment styles.
Allegory Brewing and Heater Allen Brewing—both based in McMinnville—host the festival, which pours roughly two dozen dunkels, pilsners, and fresh-hop beers from breweries throughout the Willamette Valley, Portland, and Central Oregon. The fun also includes music and a variety of food vendors.
When: 4-10 p.m. Sept. 13 and 12-10 p.m. Sept. 14, 2019
Where: Chehalem Cultural Center, 415 E. Sheridan St., Newberg
The whole family will find something to love about Newberg Oktoberfest, now celebrating its eighth year.
Little ones can get their faces painted, engage in arts and crafts activities, enjoy a water balloon toss with their parents, and watch the always-exciting wiener dog races. Meanwhile, their parents can enter beer stein hoisting and lederhosen contests, watch the Ducks and Beavers games, and enjoy a variety of beers and wines from local outfits.
Bargarten Bavarian Social Haus
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sun.
Where: 6045 Keizer Station Blvd., Keizer
Every day is Oktoberfest at Bargarten Bavarian Social Haus in Keizer. The wood-paneled restaurant and taproom models itself after traditional Bavarian biergartens—albeit indoors—with long, communal tables that encourage chatting and sharing.
And there’s plenty to share: Bargarten’s menu features fondue, sausages, pretzels, schnitzel, spätzle, and other German comfort food fare—all following authentic Bavarian recipes. And craft beer fans can order a half liter, stein, or boot of their favorite ales and lagers, with a tap list that leans heavily on imported German favorites. Seasonal selections include Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier, Köstritzer Schwarzbier, and—befitting the season—Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen. (And if craft beer isn’t your thing, Bargarten offers cider, soda, and craft cocktails.)