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AUG/SEP 2006 | REGIONAL | PACIFIC NW

Brewers Games On The Beach In Oregon
By Tom Dalldorf

PACIFIC CITY, Ore. — While doping scandals were once again not a part of the scene at the annual Summer Brewers Games held on the beach in Pacific City in front of the fabulous Pelican Pub & Brewery, consumption of beer was yet another matter. For the athletes, spectators and esteemed "celebrity" judges, such consumption was, I'm pleased to report, required.

The Summer Games were conceived by brewer Jon Graber, then of Mt. Hood Brewery, to be a test of brewers’ athletic skills — and mainly to be an excuse to consume each other's beer. The event originally was planned to alternate between winter games on Mt. Hood and summer games at the beach.

After the first summer game, the frozen version was abandoned. And this year's edition, my first, was met with spectacular weather at the oceanfront location of the host brewery. Sunny, warm and slightly windy (until the late afternoon when it got really windy), the day offered competing teams perfect temperatures for exhibiting athletic and beer-loving prowess — especially for the going-in-the-ocean-part.

The Games consist of several beer-themed events, including Building a Jockey Box (so the event organizers didn't have to), Slalom Course Beer Service with a Smile, Hand Truck Keg Wrestling, Keg Sled Drag Race, Keg Toss, Mash Transfer Relay, Yeast Slurry Balloon Toss, Crappy Industrial Beer Can Toss, the challenging Keg Relay Race to the Ocean and other feats of skill and cunning.

Teams were made up of brewery employees from one or several breweries and beer distributors. Style points were given for teams that showed élan or inventiveness or tried bribing the esteemed celebrity judges, consisting of John Foyston, beer writer for The Oregonian; Lisa Morrison, beer goddess and “Oregon Trail” columnist for the Celebrator Beer News; and myself (rendering the term "celebrity" somewhat suspect). At this very kid-friendly event there were the Root Beer Games featuring the beer drinkers of tomorrow!

The goal was to win the coveted Altitude Cup — a highly polished keg trophy looking a lot like a beer version of the Stanley Cup. One of the teams actually stole the trophy and returned it for style points!

Emcee for the afternoon was Oregon Brewers Guild President Brian Butenschoen, who made announcements and helped gather the data from the various events and relay it to the quickly overwhelmed judges for recording.

Special thanks to a spectator named Artie from Seattle who jumped in and helped the esteemed, yet numbers-challenged, judges to determine the winners!

During the games, various teams got style points for bribing the judges with beer (thanks, Oregon Trail, for the awesome Bourbon Porter!) and other comestibles. Team Eugene sent its lovely cheerleaders to give backrubs to the judges. They could have received more "style" points had they offered a male version for Lisa. Spilled beer (points off) during the Service with a Smile event was offset by one contestant who drank the spilled beer from the tray. Now that’s beer appreciation!

Finally, the events were over and the tally done. The sun, now low in the Pacific City sky, was somewhat less warm, and the eager participants gathered for the results from the esteemed judges, who grew less esteemed as the day wore on. Pelican Pub's Brewery Manager Ben Love ascended the podium to announce the winners. The voting was very close, he intoned.

The overall winner was defending champ Team Eugene, an athletic group from Steelhead, McMenamins High Street, Wild Duck and Ninkasi (soon to be open) breweries who were distinguished by their colorful Superman costumes and energetic cheerleaders. The Golden Pelicans, a team made up of brewery people from the Pelican Pub and Golden Valley Brewpub in McMinnville, came in second. Colby Jack, one of two teams mounted by Deschutes Brewing in Bend, Ore., were awarded third place and given extra props for their long trip to the coast from Bend.

The event raised a record $3,500 for local charities and contributed immensely to the continued camaraderie of the brewing community. Sun, fun, beer and brewery folks for an afternoon at the beach. And, a Pac City version of the Rolling Boil Blues Band entertained afterwards, featuring John Foyston on lead guitar, Ben Love on drums and your faithful scribe on rhythm guitar and silly beer-inspired vocals. Way too much fun at America's most attractive “viewpub,” Pelican Pub & Brewery. Plan your June travel accordingly, and I'll see you there next year!

Tom Dalldorf is publisher and editor of the Celebrator Beer News.

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