Friday, August 26, 2016

Picks from Day One of the Organic Beer Fest

Day one of the Organic Beer Fest is behind us, a scorcher at that, with another warm day on tap before we come into perfect beer festival weather this weekend. Before we get into the beers let me just say that if you have the time and can bear the heat, go today. Yesterday the festival was sparsely populated and I expect today's heat will keep those with lesser constitutions away until the weekend, meaning a beer festival that feels like it's for you, not you and hundreds (or thousands) of friends.

Enough about the heat, let's talk beer! Of my list of 17 beers I had planned to try there were a few hiccups in the plan - two didn't arrive (Dogwood Brewing Organic IPA and Wandering Aengus Golden Russet), two were more expensive than I was willing to pay (Pinkus-Muller Organic Munster Alt and Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry, two and three tokens respectively, and being poured out of bottles) and a fifth that I was on the fence about that a friend confirmed was fairly true to style and I was pretty sure wouldn't be my cup of tea (Coin Toss Half Penny). What that meant, however, was that I was able to slide in one that I had considered, Loowit Guenhwyvar Session Ale, and get through my list in one day.

I'm pleased to say that there were no stinkers in the bunch that I tasted. The ones I liked least were based on my palate and style preferences and I noted on at least one of them that while I didn't love it, I'd guess that there will be plenty of people who will enjoy it. So no "avoid this" beers this time around, just the top three that tickled me.

Two Kilts Manbun IPA
I'll admit that the name and that it's an IPA, one of my favorite styles, were the reasons this was on my list. Plus the Two Kilts guys are cool. This 6.9% beer is easy drinking with a man-stanky aroma that fits the name and makes me smile. If you like your IPAs stanky as well make sure to try it.

Laht Neppur Strawberry Cream Ale
This brewery has been hit or miss with me and while I don't like to be a girl ordering a "girly" beer I'm always interested in fruit beers. This is possibly the most well made strawberry beer I've had, lacking the "farty" quality as Mag refers to it that seems to be prevalent when strawberries are involved. The aroma is of fresh, not quite fully ripe strawberries, but of those that have the promise of being delicious very soon. The flavor follows with a refreshing quality perfect for the summer and might entice me to sit down with an entire pitcher for myself. At 5.5% that wouldn't even be overkill.

McMenamins Crystal Brewery Rose City 'Til I Rye
I admit that I tend to give McMenamins on the whole a bit of a short stick when I think about their beers which is unfair because certain brewers are turning out some great stuff. A fan of rye beers in general, this one is a great use of the ingredient in a very sessionable 4.4% beer.

Keep in mind that I tasted only 25% of the beers that are available at the festival. There are likely some other great ones being poured and of course, your palate may be much different than mine, case in point being Old Town Cardamum's the Word. My friend, who has BJCP certification, really enjoyed this beer. Me, who has an aversion to cardamom, had a sip and that was more than enough for me. So go, have fun and try what sounds good to YOU. Because it's all about you...ok it's all about the beer but whateves. Cheers!

Organic Beer Fest
Overlook Park
Friday & Saturday 12-9pm
Sunday 12-5pm
Tasting mug $7, drink tokens $1 each

Monday, August 22, 2016

Short List for the Organic Beer Fest

Summer is flying by, a bit to my dismay but it also means that the Organic Beer Fest, now in its 12th year is just days away (formerly called the North American Organic Beer Festival). Of the bigger beer festivals in town it is my favorite for both the great location at Overlook Park and the number of interesting beers that show up year after year.
After a perusal of the 55 beers that will be on tap during the four-day event I've come up with a reasonable 16 that I'd like to try for various reasons.

There are those from breweries I have a particular affinity for:
54°40’ Brewing Chaga-lug Chaga-lug (mushroom porter with vanilla and maple syrup)
Yachats Brewing Cetacea (a Saison with Szechuan peppercorns)
Montavilla Brew Works Organic Warp Session Ale

There are those that I've never had beer from:
Dogwood Brewing Organic IPA
Fortside Brewing Co. Ripple Effect

There are those whose style, name or ingredients have caught my eye:
Two Kilts Manbun IPA
Golden Valley Buzzed Barista (coffee infused blonde ale)
Hopworks Urban Brewery IPX Azacca (a newer hop I've found I enjoy)
Vagabond Brewing Into the Wild IPA

Then there are those that I'd like to try but will be come optional if I run out of time or steam:
Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry Ale
Lahat Neppur Strawberry Cream Ale (might be a fun back-to-back tasting with Samuel Smith's)
Kells Brew Pub Blood Orange Summer Wheat
Wandering Aengus Golden Russet (a 9.3% cider that I suspect will be smooth as heck)
Pinkus-Muller Organic Munster Alt (not many alts being made and this one is from Germany)
McMenamins Edgefield 2016 Hogshead Whiskey Pavol (barrel-aged Baltic Porter)
McMenamins Crystal Rose City 'Til I Rye
Coin Toss Brewing Half Penny (rice lager)

Next up will be to create my notes sheet that I'll use at the festival (on 8.5 x 11 card stock for easier table-less writing) and adding these beers to my Untappd wish list. Then it's game on!

Organic Beer Festival
Thursday, August 25 - Sunday, August 28
12-9pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday
12-5pm Sunday
Overlook Park
Tasting mugs $7, drink tokens $1 each

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Observations from Day 1 of the Oregon Brewers Festival

One of the many beautiful & tasty
beers to be had
Wednesday dawned overcast and dreary but by the time the parade was marching across the Hawthorne bridge to open the 29th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival the skies had cleared and a stunning summer day was upon Portland.

During the couple of hours I was able to attend I sampled 16 beers, starting off with Berliner Weisses and fruit beers before moving to a couple of hoppier beers and settling into the area of the International Beer Garden to try as many of the beers on tap at the time that were on my list, knowing there would be a good chance they wouldn't be available tomorrow.

Of the Berliner Weisses I tried (about half of the ones I hope to), Uber Osten from Terminal Gravity was my favorite. The 4.8% beer is balanced and just right for the style. Along a similar style vein, Nancy Cherrygan from Sasquatch offered up a bit of tartness, plenty of cherry flavor and was a beauty to look at. At 6.9% I might get myself into trouble if I were allowed to drink as much as I want of it (which would be plenty).

While I didn't have much in the way of hoppy beers I was impressed with Organized Love IPA from Riverbend, one of the newer breweries on the Oregon beer scene. In the International Beer Garden both the IPA from North Island Beer and No. 10, a 7.5% imperial IPA from Shiga Kogen Beer, are worth trying (if they're available when you're there).

Finally, two big, dark beers that were on my list were definite winners: New Holland Dragon's Milk: Mexican Spice Cake and Lost Abbey Serpent's Stout. The former is just what it sounds like, a liquid version of a spiced cake, and it is stunning. Serpent's Stout is a blended beer, with a portion being aged in bourbon barrels, which comes across without being overpowering and finishes with a coffee/dark chocolate aftertaste. Both are 11% beers so drink with caution but if I was looking for something to slowly sip while wandering the grounds I'd splurge on a full glass (4 tokens) and enjoy every last drop.

- Bring water (it's allowed), use the rinse stations or buy a bottle from one of the food vendors.
- Drink water. My rule is "drink your swill" and by that I mean that I carry a water bottle so that I can dump some in my tasting mug between each sample. It not only rinses it but drinking that beer-ish flavored water helps keep me hydrated.

- Visit the International Beer Garden early on and continue to check back periodically as the beers will rotate.
- If there is a line for New Holland or Lost Abbey (both in trailer #2) the wait is worth it.

- It's going to be a warm one so take advantage of the shaded areas and/or the "free rain."