Last week was my first trip to the Oregon Garden Brewfest and to Silverton. The main focus of the overnight trip was to attend the Oregon Garden Brewfest, held on the Oregon Garden grounds. We left Portland early and had time to spare before attending the Brewer's Tasting Dinner (which was delicious!) so we stopped in at Seven Brides Brewing. They are conveniently located on the main road, Highway 214, coming from Portland and had about 12 beers on tap, many more than make it into Portland.
First off you should know that the vibrant green beer on the left is their pilsner that food coloring was added to in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Not being a pilsner fan in general it didn't do much for me and I have to admit the brightness of the green was a bit distracting. What was easily my favorite was their Abbey's Belgian Sour, which was not sour to the extent of something Cascade might pour but a great gateway sour more along the lines of Duchesse. Also pleasing was the Weezin-ator, a Doppelbock, Becky's Black Cat, a very roasty porter, and Erin's Irish Red Ale that was offered a roasty aroma and went gentle on maltiness that I find overpowering in many red ales. After splitting a sampler tray and having a pint it was time to depart but not without a mental note to make plans to visit again.
Arriving at the Oregon Garden Resort we checked into our room, a roomy set up with a semi-private patio and a gas fireplace that was the main heat source. The Brewer's Tasting Dinner that evening was well worth coming down early for (In case you missed the last post you can read all about it here.) but after how busy the week had been we called it an early night, forgoing an over indulgence that would have been so easy with a room within stumbling distance available.
Friday morning dawned sunny and beautiful, warm enough to eat breakfast outside overlooking the upper part of the gardens. With the festival not beginning until noon we had plenty of time to explore the gardens, which we did so completely. It's a beautiful set up overall and for those who don't have time to do a full tour the map easily identify the separate gardens so one can pick and choose.
The walking was good but somewhat thirst inducing so by the time noon rolled around we were ready for the festival to begin. Split between a permanent structure and a tent there was plenty of room to move around and for the first two hours of the festival there were plenty of brewers on hand. Like usual they were happy to talk about their beer and answer any questions. This was one of the highlights of the festival since it's a festival feature that is far more uncommon in Oregon than in the Midwest where you'd be hard pressed to visit any booth at a festival and NOT find a brewer or someone intimately involved with the production of the brewery's beer.
I enjoyed plenty of good beer but the brewery that stands out most in my mind is Standing Stone out of Ashland. Each brewery offered two beers and both of theirs were hits with my taste buds. Their I Love Oregon Ale was deliciously stanky with plenty of grapefruit flavor while their Noble Stout was one of the best coffee stouts I've had, reminding me strongly of Furthermore's Oscura, a Midwest beer I dearly miss.
We could only spend part of the afternoon at the festival as duties back home were calling so after grabbing lunch it was time to hit the road back to Portland. Traffic ended up being much heavier than I expected but other than it taking longer to get back than I would have liked the entire trip was a good one. And beer fest or not, I hope to visit Silverton again before long. You should check it out, too.