Portland Spring Beer and Wine Festival

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Today I’m taking a break from my accustomed topics to write about a truly vital subject: beer. This weekend the Portland Convention Center hosted the annual Portland Spring Beer and Wine Festival, one of the big three fests here in a town that holds about one beer related event per day. So I went. The cavernous space of the exhibit hall provided ample space for more than a hundred and fifty exhibitors: breweries, wineries, distilleries, food vendors, assorted merchants, and service providers. That still left plenty of room for tables and a stage for musicians. Hard to get bored.

This year I purchased my tickets online and avoided the absurdly long lines that have plagued this festival in the past. I arrived with a couple of the usual gang of idiots, picked up my souvenir tasting goblet and drink tokens, and got to it. The standard game plan is to try the brews that are less readily available – here in Beervana that’s not as simple a task as you might think.


I’ll see if I can decipher my tasting notes.

I started off with the festival offerings of Rusty Truck Brewing, both its Imperial Red and its Double IPA. Both weighed in above 8% ABV. Both packed a kick, but the red possessed the most body. The IPA was a bit lacking in the hops department, at least for a Double and for a Northwest IPA, our IPAs out here being notorious for pushing bitterness profiles to extreme levels. I’d say both were promising, but neither distinguished itself.

Then I tried Ecliptic Brewings Regulus Sparkling Ale (5.8%) and the Spica Hefepils. And you’ll see I’ve already become lax about recording the ABV. I didn’t care for either beer. I found the Regulus muddy and unappealing, and the Spica a grassy, barely passable lawnmower beer.

The Doomsday Nuclear IPA was marginal, lacking hop conviction.

The Klasies Brewskies Gunbarrel Imperial IPA was a welcome improvement: bold and hoppy, a big beer at 9.7% ABV. A madman, so of course I liked it.

Three Mugs Imperial Red also broke 9% ABV. Sweeter, fuller bodied than the IPA. I liked it, but I thought the maltiness could have used a bit more hops for balance.

Heathen Brewing Transcend IPA did not transcend. 6.7% ABV. Thin, no nose (a crime for an IPA – where’s the floral or citrus aroma?) A watery entry.


Astoria Brewing Super Bitter Bitch. 10% ABV. My notes are rather concise on this one: Bitter.

Gilgamesh Irish Red. 5.5% ABV. Decent. A modest, drinkable beer.

For a change of pace I tried mead next. I don’t think I’ve seen canned mead before. I had the apple vanilla mead. 6.9% ABV. Nice. The apple flavor came through strongly, the result tasting like cider as well as mead.


StormBreaker Dry Hopped Mississippi Red. Good nose, but too bitter for a red. I suppose the extra hops I wanted from the Three Mugs Imperial Red ended up in here. Both missed the baby bear zone.

MIll City Logsplitter Imperial IPA. 10% ABV. A touch more malt backbone and this would be terrific. I liked it nonetheless.

Bunsenbrewer Imperial IPA. 9% ABV. Grapefruit, citrus notes. Different, but good.

And it looks like I finished with Awesome Ale’s Spikedriver Strong Ale, which I deemed a solid, big beer, the baseline for robust drinkability.

Oddly, my handwriting gradually improved over the course of the afternoon.

Check out the burger stand. No wonder the Unicorn is angry, he’s fated for the grinder.


Next week the subject matter will likely remain off-model since I’ll be reporting from vacation in Mexico.