America's Oktoberfest

Hopheads unite at Portland’s Oregon Brewers Festival     Photo: courtesy, Oregon Visitors Association

PORTLAND, OREGON - Nothing says summer like 60,000 people raising glasses of beer into the air and letting loose a spontaneous cheer that makes Yankee Stadium sound like the baking section at Borders. Welcome to the OBF, or Oregon Brewers Festival, which takes place every July in Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park. With 72 participating breweries from around the country, it's the finest outdoor tasting in the world that doesn't require speaking German. The beer's cold and often of the hard-to-get variety—I'm partial to Allagash White, a spicy Belgian-style wheat beer. By the end of the day, the local blues bands sound much better than they are, and as the sun sets, those cheers grow longer and a hell of a lot more infectious. The wise visitor, though, doesn't spend all four days at the festival: With more than 270 miles of bike routes in the city, plus Forest Park, the nation's largest urban forest, Portland offers ample opportunity to work up a healthy thirst (rentals, $28 for a half day; waterfrontbikes.net). Freshen up at the Heathman Hotel and browse their library, which contains first editions signed by the likes of Kurt Vonnegut (doubles, $230; portland.heathmanhotel.com). Then go drink up and scream ($5 for an official mug, $4 per beer; oregonbrewfest.com).

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