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Seventy Beer Samples? Yes, Please! Boatnik Brewfest Benefits Both Beer Drinkers and Local Kids

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Boatnik Brewfest

One of the greatest things about this region is that I’m still discovering stuff after eight years of living here. Prior to this week, I had no idea that Grants Pass held an annual brew festival. They’ve tacked it on with their yearly event, Boatnik—which is kind of like a carnival but there’s much more to it than simple games and bear claws (though those are present, too). It’s been happening since the late 50’s. It includes things like boat races, raffles, drag races, and more.

But I’m here to talk about the beverage side of things. The Brewfest started seven years ago, and growing steadily with every year. I had the opportunity to speak with Rich Bush, a beer enthusiast who also happens to be the Lead Chair for the event. He’s been at it for a handful of years, and, surprise, he seems to love it. It takes a lot of work to organize an event of this size, but I never heard a hint of exasperation or frustration, even when talking about governing bodies like OLCC.  

He told me there will be roughly 70 different beers available, from about 30 breweries; the locals, like Arch Rock, Caldera, Osmo’s and Standing Stone, as well as the larger, more well-known breweries like Sierra Nevada and Ninkasi. There’s going to be a few ciders there as well.

One thing I really appreciate about Rich is his candor. He was excited about the event, but it didn’t feel like he was trying to sell it to me. It truly was something he was pumped for. At one point in the phone interview, his voice dropped conspiratorially, I could imagine him leaning down lower as he said, “There’s even gonna be a roll-out special stout from Ninkasi.” I was his beer friend he was sharing secrets with.

He doesn’t like that IPAs have started to take over; not that he doesn’t enjoy an IPA from time to time, but some variety is nice. So he’s asked as many of his vendors as possible to bring roll-out beers, or those that haven’t been sold yet, especially those that aren’t the typical IPA we’ve all been smothered with.


Boatnik Brewfest
1 – 6 pm, Saturday, May 25
1 – 7 pm, Sunday, May 26
Riverside Park Softball Field, 304 E. Park Street, Grants Pass
$20, includes seven 4oz tasters of beer. More tastes can be purchased for the fair price of $5 for 5.


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