This Saturday is the 23rd Annual Hillsdale Brewfest, known to some as the "battle for the belt." 22 McMenamins breweries will be vying not only for bragging rights but the winning brewery also gets added to this ----> belt.
Last year Edgefield Brewery's Cerberus Wild Ale won the hearts of patrons and this year Head Brewer Matt Bergfield's team has brewed up another Berliner Weiss-golden ale blend, with an addition of fruit, in hopes of a repeat win. Apricots were chosen for their soft fruit character and ability to blend nicely with funk and sour, the latter being important because the beer was aged in cider barrels from Edgefield Winery. According to Matt the barrels "previously housed some super cool, lacto'd up cider" and have yielded a finished beer that is "mild, tangy, funky and has the perfect amount of oak." Anyone besides me drooling yet?
Going to the completely other end of the beer spectrum is another of the entries that I'm quite excited about. Kilmister's DIPA (RIP Lemmy) is from Concordia brewers Dave Kosanske and Matt Carter. The double IPA is a style that has been a winning one for them in the past (with a beer called Double Helix) and has a similar grain bill to this year's entry. With the intention of creating a more citrusy version they "added eight pounds of Citra pellets" into the bright tank "then bubbled with CO2 for a few days to keep them in suspension." Dave feels this is one of their finest offerings and I look forward to indulging my love of hops and citrus with this one.
I'll be putting Concordia's DIPA up against Willamette Stone DIPA from John Barleycorns, a higher ABV but lower IBU beer, for a side-by-side comparison. Both utilize dextrose and Simcoe and Chinook hops but it's my guess that's where the similarities end. There isn't a corresponding wild ale to the Edgefield entry however Hillsdale's Fuzzy Barrel is a whiskey barrel aged peach beer and McMenamins on the Columbia's Cowabunga Radler with pineapple juice and lemonade may offer some fruity similarities. In both cases only time...48 hours and counting...shall tell how the beers compare and who will get my vote.
McMenamins 23rd Annual Hillsdale Brewfest
Saturday, February 20th
11:00am - 1:00am
Hillsdale Brewery & Public House, 1505 SW Sunset Blvd
$10 per sampler tray (There are two, each with 11 4-ounce samples.)
2/26 Update: Cowabunga Radler from McMenamins on the Columbia (brewer Jesse Grover) took 1st place, Kilmister's Double IPA from Concordia (brewers Dave Kosanke & Matt Carter) took 2nd place and Cinnamon Toast Wheat from West Linn (brewer Jacob Willson) took 3rd place. Perfect Timing IPA from Crystal Ballroom (brewers Drew Phillips & Stephen Harper) sold the most full pints.
Both Kilmister's Double IPA and Perfect Timing IPA were in my top five. Cowabunga Radler is better than Ruby in my book and I'd happily drink it on a summer day. Cinnamon Toast Wheat, however, I don't understand how it took third as I didn't feel the flavors worked well with the wheat beer base. Oh well, something for everyone!