Attending this year's media preview for the Fruit Beer Festival, one of my favorite Portland beer festivals, it was interesting to hear how many of the nine beers we sampled used Eugene's own Nancy's Yogurt. Yogurt is one of the ways brewers are able to affordably kettle sour beers, something you can read more extensively about it over at the New School. For the purpose of this post suffice it to say that as a sour beer lover I'm all for the use of yogurt and enjoyed the beers represented at the tasting that used it.
One of those delicious brews was Ecliptic Ultra Violet Blackberry Sour Ale, a beer I feel obliged to warn you about. John Harris brewed it to showcase Oregon blackberries and it's a beauty with a secret. She'll whisper 3.5% sweet nothings when in fact she's concealing a full 7.5% ABV. Enjoy, but make sure to enjoy with caution and don't say I didn't warn you.
Fruit beers in general often have a sessionable ABV and use a lighter base beer but those looking to visit the dark side can count on this festival to come through with something. Darker fruits like blueberries and Marion blackberries were used by Upright and Alameda, respectively, in the brewing of a stout and CDA.
In addition to those dark beers there will be offerings for those interested in exploring equal opportunity drinking. If that describes you, you can look forward to cider offerings from 2 Towns, Reverend Nat's, Cider Riot and a head scratcher hybrid, Kiwi Lime fizzy wine from Hi-Wheel. What I've had from Hi-Wheel to date has been delicious and if you haven't yet tried them, you'll want to do so.
The festival runs two and a half days starting with a Friday night session. Last year it was a VIP-ticketed event but this year it will be general admission and in addition to more space across 7th Street, will hopefully help to alleviate the crowds that are sure to show up for this rapidly growing festival. My recommendation, as always, is still to get there early.
As an added bonus the non-profit beneficiary of the festival this year is the Portland Fruit Tree Project. They're one of my favorite organizations in town, one that aims to put the bounty of underutilized fruit trees to use. Volunteers scout neighborhoods early in the season and then volunteer pickers show up when the fruit is ripe. The majority of each harvest is donated to local food pantries; volunteers get to take home some of the fruits of their labor.
Portland Fruit Beer Festival
Friday, June 12 - Sunday, June 14
Burnside Brewing, 7th & E. Burnside
Tickets: $20 for a taster glass and 12 tickets