Last year’s beer jamboree was the festival of guava and mango. That wave has receded. The new hotness (to employ an antiquated Smith-ism and indicate how old and out of touch I am) is sours. This year was heavy on sours, goses, and beers featuring citrus notes.
Last full weekend of July. And that means: The Oregon Brewers Festival. The family and I made the trek to the Portland waterfront. The HA frolicked in the fountain while wandered a few blocks away for a bit of frolicking of my own. The Festival has made a couple of changes that I did not care for. The organizers ditched the program booklet, substituting a single sheet. And they stopped providing a pen along with the tasting package. So I was forced to type in my notes on my phone with increasingly fumbly fingers. My notes follow a bit farther down.
I have a few bits of information I’d truly like to share. But until the details firm up a bit more I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to write about beer. Deal with it.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Oregon Brewers Festival. Not necessarily an interesting number, but it is for me considering I’ve been to almost all of them. Twenty plus years of beer lines, heat, random yelling, and crowds. It’s better than I make it sound. I’ve tried some fantastic beer over the years.
This year I took the day off and brought the HA with me. MBW was across the country at a conference. So, daddy and daughter beer day. Bula! We arrived as the festival opened. A stroller provided her shade and a platform for the portable DVD player. She was set. I had a festival mug and tokens. I was set.
Once again beer takes over the web log. This week saw the 29th annual Oregon Brewers Festival sprawl across the Portland waterfront. And as usual, I showed up to do my part helping empty the kegs. Biking there worked up a thirst. Biking home ensured sobriety. Sigh. Always trade offs. Anyway, here are my tasting notes and some pictures.
I am preempting this web log, once again, with beer commentary. Friday I pedalled to the 2015 Oregon Brewers Festival, the 28th installment of the venerable zymurgical institution. I purchased my tasting glass and tokens and got to it. Here, then, are my notes. Keep in mind I was sampling tasters, not consuming entire glasses. I’m pretty sure my notes would be even less legible had I done the latter.
I’m giving the usual topics a miss today in order to discuss beer. Specifically the beers I sampled at the 2014 Oregon Brewers Festival. I do wonder about the missing apostrophe in Brewers. Is not the Festival possessed by the Brewers? Well, never mind.
I didn’t ride my bicycle down to the Portland waterfront this year. For the first time in the twenty plus years I’ve attended the Brew Fest, it was raining. At least it kept the Wednesday afternoon crowd somewhat in check. I drove down with lovely wife Isa and lovely daughter Victoria. Isa drove back. Frankly I wasn’t too displeased to skip the uphill bike ride home.
With festival tasting glass and wooden tokens in hand I began to browse. I decided that this year I’d avoid my usual IPA-heavy selections, sample a wider variety of brews. That’s – mostly – what I did. Following are my tasting notes.
10 Barrel Brewing Company. Cider Weisse. ABV 5.7%. Refreshing, summery cider with a mild hop bite. Could use a touch more sweetness or a berry tartness.
Fort George Brewery & Public House. The Optimist. ABV 6.9% Verdant hp notes, light citrus. Not much nose. Could use more malt for balance. [Stepping away from my tasting notes for a moment. Yes, I said I’d steer clear of IPAs this year. I like IPAs. Lay off of me, why don’t you.]
Specher Brewery. Abbey Triple. ABV 8.5%. Very smooth Belgian Tripel. Tastes of honey-dipped biscuit.
Paradise Creek Brewery. Huckelberry Pucker. Berliner Weisse. ABV 4.7%. Pale color, like diluted grapefruit juice. Tart, a cherry-berry blend, far from the stereotypical cloying fruit beer. I’m not usually fond of fruit beers, but this I like, and the Mrs. concurs (though she prefered the Cider Weisse.)
Sixpoint Craft Ales. Barrel Aged 3Beans. ABV 10.3%. Mocha – a vanilla mocha latte tempered with a beer bitterness. A dessert beer, not a beer drunk for beer’s sake.
Central City Brewing. Red Betty Imperial IPA. ABV 9%. Okay, back to the IPAs. But an Imperial IPA so I’m not really cheating. This is terrific! Perfect balance.
Beer Valley Brewing. Heavy Sugars Honey Ale. ABV 7%. Looks like fruit juice. Smells like fruit just beginning to turn. The Mrs. says ‘no’. Taste. I agree. Remember the comment about cloying fruit beer? Here’s the apotheosis.
Heathen Brewery. Megadank. ABV 8.2%. Epitomizes the Northwest IPA style You either like that style or you don’t. I like it. [Yes, another IPA. I think I was remarkably restrained.]
Upright Brewing Company. Old News Saison. ABV 5.8%. Decent. Saison’s are distinctive. I tend to like them and I like this one.
Here end the tasting notes. At this point the negative aspect of bringing along my infant, no matter how fetching and delightful, manifested. The hour of departure arrived with wailing insistence. So, a brief foray. But, as ever, rewarding. I think I’ll keep an eye out for Central City. Good stuff.
Assembled from the notes taken yesterday.
I’ve been attending the Oregon Brewers Festival since – oh, since before I was of legal drinking age. I believe my first OBF was the second or third year of the event. I have a cupboard full of plastic festival mugs to prove it, much to the dismay of the Mrs. (This year the OBF switched to glass. We’ll see how that goes.)
My wife does not care for the throng, finding the noise, the press, the dust, etc. oppressive. Hard to blame her, really, but I find the beer sufficient compensation so long as I arrive early and leave before the crush reaches its peak. So, this year I attended solo, biking down from home. In the past this has been an occasion to congregate with friends and usually bump into people I’ve not seen for a few years. But this year the usual gang of idiots had previous engagements, work-related or otherwise. A sign of maturity, or aging anyways. It becomes harder and harder to justify scheduling a day dedicated to sampling craft brews. I understand that all too well. Does youth fade or does it simply get buried beneath the ever mounting pile of responsibility?
This year, then, I brought just the one friend.
We’ll see how many chapters I can get through and if the OBF’s notorious and frequent spontaneous yelling that fills the tents will impair my reading more than the alcohol.
Now, time for another taster.
The people watching is, as usual, top-shelf. Jack Sparrow just strolled by. Bald, bearded Elvis strummed his guitar outside the fence for awhile before being upstaged by Darth Vader playing the bagpipes while riding a unicycle.
Report: I was terrified that a beer from Ohio – Ohio, of all places – would top my list. Of course I handicapped the competition, skipping the local Portland beers. I can get them anytime. Thankfully my last taster was Bogart IPA from Fire Mountain Brewery of nearby Carlton, Oregon. That dethroned Ohio Brewing Company’s O’Hoppy Ale IPA.
At about that point of the day the crowd of the OBF surpassed my comfort level. And 6-plus miles uphill on the bicycle eliminated the (minimal) blood-alcohol level. I deem this OBF a success. I sampled some new beers and I’m pretty sure my caloric intake and expenditure was a net positive on the expenditure side of the balance sheet.
And how was your Saturday?