Sunday, June 12, 2011


Yesterday was the first ever Portland Fruit Beer Festival, the brainchild of Ezra, who seems to have his fingers in darn near everything related to craft beer in Portland. While his full bio and exactly how he got his great gig are things I don’t know, what I do know is that his experience and connections means he can put on one heck of a festival.

I won’t go into all the details, you can find that on their Facebook page or at Burnside Brewing’s website (the fest was held in their parking lot), the bones of it are that there were about 15 “regular” beers and an additional 15 that were considered “special”, with two on tap at a time, being replaced with another one as the keg blew.

Before I get into the beers themselves, you should know that this was a fruit beer fest, not a girly beer fest. Sure, the more beer-timid drinker was probably able to find enough approachable beers to say they enjoyed their time. However, to be able to fully appreciate and enjoy the offerings, you’ll need to be going further afield than Leine’s Berry Weiss or Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat as many of these beers had sour or Belgian characteristics.

Enough chatter, let’s get to the part you care about, the beer. Of the 15 regular beers I had all but one, Dogfish Head Festina Peche, not because I wasn’t interested, but rather because it’s a beer I really like but know I can get just about anytime I want it. As for the special beers, there were only three available during the time we were there and I tried all three.

  • New Belgium Ooh La La – It’s hard for me to say it, being that I think New Belgium is a bit over rated in general, but this just goes to show that they can make a really exceptional beer. Raspberries were used here and it was the beer that had the most fruit flavor, almost like drinking a glass of perfectly ripe raspberries, except there’s the added fun of 8.5% ABV.
  • Beetje Zure Kreten – One of Portland’s nano-breweries, this beer was just about the polar opposite of Ooh La La. Instead of the fruit (currants) standing out, the beer exuded the cheese stank I love.
  • Burnside Gooseberry Berliner-Weisse AND Marionberry Berliner-Weisse – The former was part of the regular beer selection and extremely refreshing, something that would hit the spot on a hot, humid day. The latter was one of the special beers and extremely fruity, with fruit particles floating in it, giving it the look of a glass of freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice.
This is a two-day festival so there is the opportunity for us to make a return visit today, to try some of the special beers that are available and have some of our favorite regular beers (unless the kegs have blown, in which case there may be some replacement beers that weren’t available yesterday). I don’t know if we’ll make it or not but if we do, I expect another knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark experience.

Thanks to Michael for the pic!

*Update: We did go back for round two on Sunday, but there weren't any beers that eclipsed what I tasted on Saturday and for the most part I kept going back to the well of two "runner up" beers: Block 15 Psidium and Widmer Himbeere Gose.

1 comment:

  1. It seems you did have a great time. I wondered if they would have a gooseberry. I had one a long time ago by another brewer and fell in love but couldn't find anything like it anywhere. Burnside could be it!