Fans of barrel aged beer and small-batch whiskey braved the winter chill January 17 and 18, 2014 at the perfectly suited Leftbank Annex in Portland to celebrate the inaugural Big Woody Festival. Inspired by the five-year running Little Woody Beer Festival in Bend, Oregon, the Big Woody Festival celebrates the historical relevance of barrel aged beers, featuring a wide range of beer styles.

From sours to barley wines, twenty-one breweries participated, showcasing their specialty wood-aged beers. Those featured at the festival had one simple rule to follow; bring a beer that you aged in barrels. Thanks to fan participation and the power of social media, Mazama Brewing’s Nightside Eclipse was awarded Best in Show. Nightside Eclipse is an Imperial Porter aged in charred American oak barrels.

Additionally, several whiskies—from small batch American bourbon and rye to traditional single malts—were available for sampling alone or for pairing with beer. Oregon whiskies available included Burnside Bourbon, Crater Lake Rye Whiskey and Clear Creek McCarthy’s single malt whiskey.

With plenty of room to spread out, easy access to public transportation and a bright, modern-industrial aesthetic, the Leftbank Annex proved an extraordinarily comfortable venue. Though Oregon is notoriously ripe with beer festivals, the opportunity to enjoy somewhat rare beers accompanied by fine local whiskey in a cozy setting will make this winter festival a fan favorite. Missed the first ever Big Woody Festival? Never fear, the Little Woody Festival appears in Bend at the end of August for summer whiskey and beer imbibing!  

Entry to the festival was $40 and includes 20 tasting tokens good towards beer and whiskey in a commemorative snifter glass. More information on both Woodys can be found at:

Emily Engdahl
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