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The Best Beerfest on Earth 

Brews for New Avenues redefines what an event should be

Summer might be ending, but beer events continue to downpour across all of Oregon. The Bend Brewfest has ended, yes, but it won't be long before both Sisters and Hood River hold their respective fresh-hop beer festivals, for example. (And speaking of Hood River, Crow's Feet Commons is holding an event this Thursday, Sept. 1, pairing five pFriem Family Brewers beers with five dim sum offerings from Anna Witham of The Root Cellar. Be there or be sober/hungry.)

However—and no offense meant to all the many festivals that highlight the Oregon landscape—but there's no event like Brews for New Avenues, held at Portland's Leftbank Annex last week. Simply put, the VIP ticket for this event (which costs $70 and usually goes on sale in May) is one of the soundest investments beer fans can make.

What is BFNA? On the surface, the event (which benefits Portland-based charity New Avenues for Youth) is a typical beer fest—show up, purchase tokens, exchange them for beer tasters. That's what the $10 general admission provides, and even that's still worth the time to attend, thanks to the quality of beer on hand. Tillamook's de Garde Brewing produced two different wild-fermented beers exclusively for the show, and kegs from big-name outfits like Block 15 and Denmark's To Øl were on hand. The overall focus is on the wild, the uncommon and the novel.

But BFNA differs from the rest of the pack for two reasons: the VIP session, and the beer auctions. Getting one of the 150 VIP tickets unlocks access to a separate afternoon event with tons of catered food and even more rare stuff on tap, no tokens required. It also lets visitors join the silent auction, bidding on bottles and packages of some of the most sought-after beer on the planet.

The New Avenues charity earned over $150,000 from this year's auction, and it's clear to see why, when stuff like rare Belgian gueuze and 18-bottle vertical flights of Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout are on offer. A three-liter bottle of Fou' Foune, the apricot wild ale from the world-renowned Cantillon brewery in Belgium, was one of the hottest auctions—it went for just over $3,000 after the dust settled. (There's tons of reasonably-priced beer, too, including a "beer wall" that offers lucky-dip bombers of rare bottles for $10 a pop.)

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