Layout changes enhance Hood River Hops Fest

Glass mugs and ease of movement help with smooth sampling of ales

Hops Fest glass mug shines in the setting sun

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Hops Fest glass mug shines in the setting sun

The distinctly named “Crux-Arillo” went fast and some beer lines were longer than others, but Hood River Hops Fest seemed to offer something for everyone, be it experimental ales from all over Oregon and Washington, bluegrass and rock-and-roll music, hot food, or talking with friends under sunny autumn skies.

“It went really well,” said Mike Glover, director the Hood River Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the festival, now in its 12th year.

Attendance was “about the same, maybe a little lower” than last year’s 7,000, he said.

“The massages we did to the layout really helped,” he said, referring to locating the stage at the west end and aligning the beer tents in a row on the south side.

“There were still pretty good crowds in the tents, but you were able to get out of the way and have some space to go and enjoy the beer that you had in your mug,” Glover said.

“The brewers appreciated the new layout rather than the old L shape, which created its own bottle neck,” he said. “It was also easier to get around behind the scenes for the people helping us load the beer,” Glover said. “The staff of Double Mountain were great,” in organizing all the kegs at the 20 service tables, he added.

The chamber introduced glass mugs this year instead of plastic.

“We drop-tested them before we figured out which one to buy. I was skeptical at first, but beer tastes better in glass. The mug we chose passed three different smash tests,” said Glover, adding that on Saturday “we had only 3 to 5 mugs break.”

Another new addition was the custom-built water tank, where festival goers could rinse out their mugs or get a full drink of “Adam’s ale.”

Glover said there were zero reports of intoxication. “Cutting it off at 8 helped, it just eliminated so many admissions past 7 p.m.,” Glover said.

He said that while the venue was crowded, “We do not have plans of moving Hops Fest.” The chamber could make “a few minor layout tweaks” to provide a little more space.

“If it grew enough we can still consider closing down part of the street, without impeding access to Full Sail,” north across Columbia Street from the venue.

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