I have a pretty solid ritual when it comes to writing about a beer fest: grab my notes (for memory assistance on my favorites), grab a copy of the program (for the full names of the beers and their corresponding breweries) and plug in the camera (for things I may have forgotten but seemed worth taking a picture of at the time). This year I just sat down and knew, for the first time, there were two clear, stand-out winners in my mind at the Oregon Brewers Festival. This excludes any Buzz Tent beers, but I’ll get around to more about that in a little bit.
#1 – Old Market Pub & Brewery Berried Alive! Belgian Boysenberry Ale
It seemed there were quite a few more fruit beers at the festival this year but as is often the case, particularly with fruit beers, there’s a wide range in how well they’re made. This beer was chock full of fruit flavor, nothing artificial, sported a beautiful color and hit that just right balance of sweet and tart.
#2 – Dogfish Head Black & Red Raspberry Mint Imperial Stout
This is one of those love it or hate it beers and in all honesty, when I decided to get a sample of it I didn’t think I was going to like it. Oh, how wrong I was. Besides the pleasing combination of flavors, it was the incredible mouthfeel that hooked me. Not many beers have that silky, velvet-in-the-mouth quality so when I find one that does it’s memorable. Finally, this had to be the best deal of the festival, 10% ABV and not in the Buzz Tent.
Circling back to my earlier mention of this year’s Buzz Tent, I must warn you, this is where things are going to get a little negative. I generally follow the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” rule in my musings but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my disappointment in the Buzz Tent as a whole. Last year the Buzz Tent was well run, but this year there were three huge issues:
- There was no listing of the tapping order of the Buzz Tent beers. Clearly it’s impossible to assign a day and time to these beers but having the knowledge of whether the beer I’m hoping to try is five keg or 15 kegs away from being tapped is very useful.
- The use of the Buzz Tent Twitter account was nearly non-existent (until the late Friday night tweet saying that everything had been blown). Last year’s announcements, along with the tapping order list made it very easy to figure out if I needed to make a run to the fest to get some object of my desire.
- The overall poor organization and signage in the Buzz Tent was surprising and disappointing. We were there at the beginning of the festival on Thursday and they weren’t even close to being ready to serve beers. When they were finally ready, the signage was so poorly hung that getting in the right line was difficult. Beyond that, at least one of the (hand written) signs was blatantly wrong. The name of the beer, which described the ingredients, was correct in the program, correct in one of the few tweets that was sent out and it was something I’d had at the brewery the day before. Yet the sign in the tent was wrong.
Although the disappointments of the Buzz Tent are something that the organizers need to take a long, hard look at, overall, I still enjoyed the festival and am sure I’ll be returning next year.
Thanks go out to festival organizer Chris Crabb for contacting me about a media pass and providing me with a mug and a portion of the tokens that fueled my OBF adventure.