For as much thought as I put into my food choices - being concerned about where it comes from, how it's produced, etc. - you might assume NAOBF, the North American Organic Brewers Festival, would be right up my alley. You would, however, be incorrect. I skipped the festival last year and until a couple of persuasions came my way to attend this year, I was planning to skip it again.
Maybe my lack of interest has been because I don't regularly seek out organic beer. I'm not saying that I haven't had some good organic beer, I'm just saying that whether or not it's organic has little to no impact on my beer selection. It probably should, especially since organic beer has come a long way and is now often as outstanding - or disagreeable - as any non-organic beer on the market.
This year NAOBF touted over 50 beers, some from dedicated organic breweries like Bison and Hopworks along with offerings from non-organic breweries like McMenamins, Uinta and Logsdon. While I had no ambitions to try every beer I did pour over the program as well as solicit recommendations while manning the Brewvana booth during the first few hours of the festival on Saturday.
Departing from my usual listing of only the highlights - and possible lowlights - here's the full list of my samplings: Fish Tale Organic IPA, Laht Neppur Peach Hefeweizen, Fort George South, Pints Green Line Organic Summer IPA, Two Kilts Imperial IPA, Laurelwood Organic Green Elephant IPA, Alameda Yellow Wolves of Thailand Imperial IPA, McMenamins Concordia Brewery School's Out Organic IPA, McMenamins Oak Hills Brewpub Altered State Alt and Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale.
The one beer that I tried that really knocked my socks off was School's Out IPA from McMenamins Concordia Brewery. Really. Generally I'll choose other beers over McMenamins but as I found to be the case earlier in the year at the Battle for the Belt, sometimes they can really knock it out of the park. Concordia Brewery is housed in the Kennedy School and being unfamiliar with the availability of McMenamins' brews outside their "home pub" I'm not sure if I'll be able to get any more of this. So if you happen to hear of it on tap somewhere, let me know. I want more of it.
Beyond that the IPAs from Fish Tail and Laurelwood fulfilled my hop head desires, with the rest falling between that and "meh." Nothing was disagreeable to me and I didn't detect anything off in these beers.
In the end, I'm glad I had reasons to attend. Overlook Park is a beautiful space and when next year's festival rolls around there's a pretty good chance you'll find me there.
|The taps, ready for the day.|
|The volunteers cometh.|
|Braving the weather and enjoying the brews.|