Today is going to be more of a typical early spring day - not as warm as some of the days we've recently enjoyed and while it won't be entirely wet, there's a chance for some showers. So you could take your chances and make some outdoor plans OR you could ignore the whole weather issue and drink inside the confines of the Oregon Convention Center at the Spring Beer & Wine Fest. I was there yesterday and at the point I noticed it was raining I mentioned to my drinking companion that save for its size and brightness, it was really like going into a dark bar. You know those places, the ones where you know not the weather outside or the time of day unless you care to, a place where you can enjoy your drink until such time you need to leave.
As I mentioned in my story in this month's Oregon Beer Growler on the festival, one of the things that makes it unique is that festival founder Steve Woolard seeks out the new, smaller and perhaps less well known vendors that are interested in personally manning their booths in order to tell their story and introduce their products to attendees. On the beer side of things that includes:
- Just-open Coin Toss Brewing who is pouring Black Hole CDA and George's Honest Ale (brewed based on a "recipe" from George Washington's journal and using molasses, 6-row pale and Cluster hops)
- Krauski's Brewski's, the brewing portion of The Hoppy Brewer in Gresham, who is pouring The Poacher Imperial CDA and The Plunger Triple IPA
An inclusive festival, there's also wine, mead, distilled spirits and a variety of food. While I'd seen Nectar Creek (mead) before and I'm pretty sure I've had some of their products I enjoyed the heck out of both the Sting (ginger) and Brood (raspberry) they're pouring. Neither is of the sticky sweet variety and the ginger in particular I could see appealing to white wine drinkers. The company was started by a pair of brothers, one of which has a background in beekeeping and has allowed them to cultivate direct relationships with the beekeepers they source the raw, unfiltered Oregon honey they use in their meads from. They recently swept the Dry Session Mead category at the Mazer Cup International, equivalent to beer's GABF, and rightfully so from the tastes I enjoyed.
Moving further afield from my regular drinking habits I tried wines from Cooper Ridge Vineyard & Winery who just started selling wine this year after starting their vineyard in 2008. Their tasting room, where their wines will be available exclusively, will open on Mother's Day in Roseburg. A slightly less new kid on the block, Hood Crest Winery, started six years ago and was open by appointment only but starting next weekend will have regular weekend hours that will expand as summer progresses. They've just started working with a distributor so their wines can be found at select locations in Portland. Trying wines from both wineries was good continuing education for this beer drinker.
There are also plenty of tasty treats including my favorite vendor Cypress Grove Chevre and Melting Pot Candy. English toffee is one of their specialties and for those who like a bit of spice in their sweet, the Jalapeno Almond is subtle and awesome. And you know those warm, roasting nuts you find at many beer festivals? Well, they make a Cinnamon Pecan Milk that taste just like they smell.
The Spring Beer & Wine Fest offers something for everyone so grab some friends and head on down today!
Spring Beer & Wine Fest
Friday, April 3 & Saturday, April 4th
Oregon Convention Center