Saturday, April 19, 2014

New to Me: Spring Beer & Wine Fest

Heathen Brewing Transcend IPA

This year marks the 20th Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest but for me it was brand new. Why hadn't I gone before? There are a few reasons.
1. It's held indoors and unless there are valid weather reasons preventing a festival being outdoors, that's a bit of a turn off for me.
2. This will sound snobbish but it's a beer and wine festival. Since I'm only interested in the beer part, there will be a lot of it that I will ignore.
3. So often there are just so many things going on that one has to pick the one thing that is the most interesting.

Lake Chelan Gold Hard Cider

What got me to finally go was that a friend had a pre-purchased ticket unexpectedly available at the last minute. Since I didn't have something else I'd already committed to doing I thought, why not? An afternoon of wandering around, drinking beer with friends and nibbling on cheese, chocolate and other samples isn't a half bad way to while away some time.

Dick's Raspberry Belgian Triple

Getting past the fact that the fest is held indoors, it was well laid out with the various "factions" intermingled, encouraging attendees to wander all over instead of just sticking to the beer section or the wine section. I tended to try things from the smaller, out of the Portland metro breweries that I hadn't had many or any beers from before. While I can't say that I found any new diamonds in the rough I certainly enjoyed the experience.

Krauski's Brewskis Powder Stash Imperial Pale

Just before leaving there was a cider panel on the Culinary Stage featuring Abe of Cider Riot, Nat of Reverand Nat's, Daisy of Finnriver and Jeff (I think) of Portland Cider. It was great to hear a bit more about each company and be able to put a story and a face to the company name, something that I suspect will stick with me the next time I'm perusing a cooler of ciders.

Cider Panel

My first experience to this fest was good enough that if someone mentions they're going next year I'll probably see about joining them. Have you been? What are your thoughts on this fest?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hippity Hop Flop

Easter is just around the corner and with that in mind I felt compelled to take a run at pairing traditional Easter candies with beer. The Halloween pairing had gone well so I rounded up enough sugar to fill a few Easter baskets, some friends and off we went.

Our bunny trail was lined with the over-the-top-sweet Cadbury eggs, pastel speckled robin eggs (malted milk balls), an assortment of traditional jelly beans including the love-'em-or-hate-'em black ones and the quintessential Peeps.

Instead of selecting which candy to work on pairing first we decided to select a beer and see where it took us. First up was Breakside Pilsner, a German-style lager, which we found not to pair very well, save for three "flavors" of jelly beans - red, pink and yellow. Deciding to try another pilsner, we cracked open a Heater Allen Pils, a Bohemian-style pale lager, which turned out to be more agreeable to the sweet selection. It went nicely with both the Peeps and the malted milk balls.

Seeking to find something that would stand up to the toothachingly sweet Cadbury eggs, we tried both Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout and Lindemans Framboise. The stout turned out to have a flavor profile that was too close to the candy but not surprisingly, the framboise was very nice with it.

Since I was the only lover of black jelly beans in the group it was up to me to test them out. As it turned out I found them to be delicious with the framboise, the flavors combining to create a cassis-like (blackcurrant) flavor.

While this pairing wasn't quite a train wreck, it was certainly far less successful than the Halloween version had been. I remain undaunted and will be on the lookout for the next candy themed beer pairing I can convince some folks to join in with me. Are you in?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coming Up: 2014 Oregon Garden Brewfest

Last year was our first year attending the Oregon Garden Brewfest in Silverton, OR. While Silverton is only about an hour's drive south of Portland we'd never been there before and had no idea what the gardens were all about. This year when we were reminded that the festival would be taking place the last weekend of April the decision to attend again was an easy one - of course we would!

The festival takes place on a portion of the Oregon Garden grounds Friday, April 25th - Sunday, April 27th. Perennial early birds that we are, we'll be taking advantage of the front end of the festival, going down the night before to take in the Brewer's Tasting Dinner (which was all kinds of delicious fun last year) and then hitting the festival as soon as the gates open Friday. In between we'll have a leisurely breakfast on the patio and then take a spin around the gardens, enjoying all they have to offer and working up a thirst for the festival.

One of the great things about this festival, as opposed to many that take place in Portland, is the relaxed atmosphere. With 130 beers, ciders and mead from over 60 breweries it's nothing to sniff at; this is a real deal festival with live music both evenings of the festival, a shuttle running to and from Salem and for those looking to make a little getaway of it, packages that include festival tickets and accommodations at the Oregon Garden Resort.

Come on down and join in the fun!

Oregon Garden Brewfest
Friday, April 25th - Sunday, April 27th
Gates open at noon each day