former Oregon Brewers Guild director Brian Butenschoen gestures to the crowd at Cheers to Belgian Beers
RIP Portland Cheers To Belgian Beers Festival, the 12 year old festival won’t return in 2019 for its 13th year, or probably ever. “Pour one out for CTBB” said a slide announcing that the Belgian yeast, local brewery festival is ending its run for good, another increasingly common beer festival casualty.
“We lost a significant amount of money on it last year” said Dan Engler, current President of the Oregon Brewers Guild at last night’s annual guild meeting. The popular festival has been in the red for many years, Engler said. I was not surprised, I have been privately speculating that it wouldn’t return in 2019 ever since Brian Butenschoen, Executive Director of the Oregon Brewers Guild suddenly left the job in early November. The annual event typically happens in May with a brewers dart toss held in advance that helps randomize the color and strength of the beers presented, but no news had emerged about this years fest.
One wonders about how a premiere festival such as Cheers To Belgian Beers could be unprofitable for so long and still continue, especially with the Oregon Brewers Guild behind it. Afterall, not only does the festival have the power and resources of the guild behind it, but all the beer is donated! I might speculate that events organization by former OBG director Butenschoen could be one of the reasons the guild board is bringing in new blood. As an event organizer myself, how this event could continue to lose money is hard to fathom.
OBG president Engler does have a point though, “I think maybe the novelty is not there anymore.” Engler continued, noting that there has been declining interest in beer festivals but that they had some new ideas for events. “When Cheers to Belgian Beers was started that was a real trendy segment, things have changed.” I will look forward to what kind of new beer events the guild lines up under new leadership.