Beer Week Signals Growth for Local Brews

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MEDFORD, Ore. – The fourth annual Medford Beer Week is gaining steam with more than 2,000 people showing up to Saturday’s headline event. The Brews, Burgers & Bluegrass festival connected locals to craft food and beer producers in the valley.

For breweries like Opposition, it means a big chance to get their name out there.

“It’s amazing how many people come up to us and say, ‘oh I haven’t heard of you yet,’” said Nick Ellis, Co-Owner of Opposition Brewery. “We love making that connection with new customers.”

Opposition Brewing is joining eight other breweries, four local ranchers, and a dozen other vendors for the second year of the event.

They say it follows up on what turned out to be a surprise blowout last year, and a big boon for their business.

“It was packed to the gills last year, way more people than they expected,” said Ellis. “I think we were out of beer within the first couple hours, and it isn’t like we didn’t bring a lot of it.”

Studies from the Rogue Valley Food System Network show that currently about 3% of the food consumed locally originated in the valley.

The event, organized by the non-profit THRIVE, is intended to help up that number.

“It really has to do with teaching people how to change those habits so that it’s easy to make a local choice whenever possible,” said Becky Brown, Outreach Coordinator with THRIVE.

The organization claims $0.45 of every dollar spent locally is reinvested locally, compared to $0.15 on the dollar for a large chain.

But they say last year’s surprise turnout, combined with an even bigger crowd this year, shows people don’t need convincing.

“It’s not a hard sell,” said Brown. “Most people care about our local business community and about keeping our dollars local.”

That enthusiasm is palpable for breweries like Opposition. They say this event, and the week ahead, are a reminder that beer meccas like Portland and Bend aren’t far out of reach.

“I think we can be on par with the big boys,” said Ellis.