Words by Delaney Rea

For the past 17 years, Eugene radio station KLCC has held their annual Brewfest fundraiser. The event is an opportunity for enthusiasts of all things hoppy to enjoy the creations of a plethora of Oregon breweries. Local breweries and homebrew enthusiasts get their chance to shine, and the community gets a chance to support the institution of public radio while enjoying quality brews.

Initially, Brewfest started small. The first edition of the event included just 20 Lane County breweries. Though that may sound like no small number, Brewfest 2018 will play host to over 80 local breweries, according to KLCC Marketing Director and Brewfest organizer Gayle Chisolm. “We had no idea back then that it was going to become so big,” Chisolm said. With around 7000 total attendees and counting each year, the event continues to grow in popularity.

The atmosphere at Brewfest is first and foremost one of high spirits. ‘We like to say that we’re keeping the fun in fundraising and the pub in public radio,” Chisolm said. With many of the breweries going all out to offer interactive experiences, visitors can expect far more from Brewfest than merely a series of booths with plastic cups of ale. From fully-operational miniature pubs to arcade games and more, the breweries cultivate a fun environment for the event.

Because the event is put on by KLCC, a radio station, music also plays a large role in the proceedings — including both live music and an extensive music sale. On Friday, Eugene funk outift Soul Vibrator will take the stage from 8 to 11 p.m., and turntable specialist DJ Connah Jay will perform Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. The music sale is comprised entirely of donated records and CDs, a perfect opportunity to shed any excess physical music copies you may have for a good cause. KLCC is accepting music donations at 136 W 8th Ave from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every week day until the weekend of Brewfest.

Brewfest awards are split into three categories: the People’s Choice, the Sponsor’s Choice and Homebrew Competition. Winners in each category are announced on Saturday. Though their beers are not available for sampling at the festival, the homebrewer’s competition is one of Brewfest’s major draws. The wide swath of home brewed beers are judged ahead of time by a certified panel of judges and awards are given to home brews in a variety of categories, with the top prize being the Best of Show medal.

Another primary Brewfest tradition is the collaboration brew. Part of the festival’s proceedings from the beginning, the collaboration brew is a themed drink decided upon ahead of time by a selection of local brewers. From there, the breweries collaborate in pairs to produce a spread of creative specialty brews made especially for Brewfest. The collaboration brew theme of Brewfest 2018 will be Tour of the World. A special “Passport” ticket can be purchased at the Brewfest ticket booth to sample all 16 brewery offerings. This year, attendees can sample collaboration brews such as Agrarian Ales and Sam Bond’s Mexican Lager or Ninkasi and Plank Town’s Traditional English IPA.

Sponsorship is a large part of what makes the event possible. This year’s key sponsor is Oregon convenience store Dari Mart, so you can expect to see their logo on all Brewfest cups and memorabilia. As the primary sponsor, the convenience store will decide the winner of the Sponsor’s Choice award. Following the event, Dari Mart will offer the Sponsor’s Choice winner at all store locations until the supply runs out. In addition to Dari Mart, 2018 Brewfest sponsors include Café Yumm, Sundance Natural Foods and Ninkasi Brewing Company.

The bottom line: if you support public radio, local breweries or just having a good time, KLCC Brewfest is a can’t-miss event. As Chisolm says, “You’re helping KLCC with every beer you sip.”

KLCC Brewfest will be held on Friday, Feb. 9 from 5 to 11 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 10 from 1 to 11 p.m. Advance tickets are available at KLCC.org/Post/KLCC-Brewfest-2018 for $15 per day or $22 for the weekend. The Lane Events Center will host the event at 796 W 13th Ave. in Eugene. The event is 21 and over only.