You love the blog, so subscribe to the Beervana Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud today!

Friday, January 26, 2007

No Kids at the OBF

This is disturbing:
After 19 years of promoting the Oregon Brewers Festival as a community event, we regret that we will not be allowed to have minors under the age of 21 on the festival premises in 2007. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has stipulated no minors be on-site, citing OLCC Rule 845-006-0340 (7) (a) in which "eating predominates" and the premise must not have a "drinking enviroment". In order to view this rule, please go to here and click on "Laws and Rules". Click on OLCC Law Book. This will open up a PDF file for viewing.
One of the cool things about Oregon is that it has a grown-up view about alcohol. Kids aren't immediately corrupted by the sight of their parents sipping a nice kolsch, and the OLCC used to know it. In fact, when Oregon's microbreweries began to rise to prominence in the 1980s, drinking was actually taken out of the dark, windowless caves of the corner taverns into well-lit, homey brewpubs. Families started coming, and the focus turned from getting smashed to enjoying an artisinal product.

Kids, of course, will be lured less by a product they've watched their mother drink than by something elicit and forbidden. So the OLCC has made it forbidden again. Nice. Well, the OBF is suggesting we take action, so I'll pass it along to you:
If you disagree with the OLCC's decision, then please contact executive director Stephen Pharo and let him know: 503-872-5000,1800-452-6522,or
I think I'll send 'em a note.

Update. Tom Dalldorf, the publisher of Celebrator Beer News, sent this letter to Stephen Pharo. It's a nice statement:
Dear Mr. Pharo:

I am distressed to learn that the usually forward thinking people at the OLCC have regressed to the dark days of neo-prohibitionism in restricting kids (under age) from attending the nation's premier outdoor beer event -- the Oregon B
rewers Festival.

I have attended this event every year since 1990 and have marveled in print at how wonderfully it is organized and what a mellow non-party vibe it consistently exhibits (with the exception of that one draconian year the OLCC had the taps inside a 21 only tent). My job takes to me to beer festivals all over the world and the OBF is a stand out by any measure.

Please consider resending this ill-advised edict. Families with children are a moderating and uplifting addition to a large festival such as the OBF. Look at successful events around the country and most especially in Europe fo
r some guidance. Keep Oregon's great contribution to beer culture on track for the future.

Most sincerely,
Tom Dalldorf, publisher
Celebrator Beer News
Second Update. Janie Har wrote about this in today's Oregonian, and your humble blogger was quoted. Also a friend of mine:

Beer fans call the OLCC's action an unenlightened attempt to clamp down on an activity that makes the city -- and state -- unique.

"It's a pretty common thing for people to see their parents drinking beer in this town, and it's not a shocking or despicable act," says Jeff Alworth, a Portland beer blogger who publicized the crackdown in a posting on

Joe Bertagnolli, a 41-year-old therapist who brews at home, says he's taken his 13-year-old son to the event at least twice. His boy, Jordan, has never tried to get into his dad's beer, Bertagnolli says.

"It's just a festival where people get together and sip beer," he says. "It takes a lot of the mysticism and illicit allure out of it for kids."


  1. i'm with the Mercury - the OLCC has to go. what a ridiculous rule.

  2. I just sent 'em a letter-- Beyond the forbidden factor, most parents are more likely not to get drunk and stupid when they have their kids around.

    And I also signed up to volunteer again.

  3. I sent them an email as well. As a parent who's taken his child to the OBF, they have a fairly rigid policy about identifying minors at the event, so it seems to me the OLCC is really overstepping.

  4. As a parent of two young children (one of which attented the 2006 event perched on my back), I'm really disappointed to see this.

    I've written Mr. Pharo and urged him to reconsider the OLCC decision.

  5. Ditto, this prohibitionist attitude is discouraging. I've sent my letter to Mr. Pharo as well, rallying my friends to also write in.

    As a homebrewer & member of the AHA I will write them about this as well, they have some lobbying power in this arena.

    I encourage everyone who reads this to do something..

  6. I'm super impressed at the response to this--you guys are really on the ball. Let's hope it helps.

  7. Was outraged by this as well. This would have been my first year with a child at the OBF - she's 7 weeks old now. I sent lengthy letters to both the OLCC and governor and would urge anyone else who cares to do the same.