Monday, October 17, 2016

4th Annual WW Beer Pro/Am - Bigger & Better Than Ever

Saturday, amidst "Portland Windstorm '16," the 4th Annual Willamette Week Beer Pro/Am took place in the comfy, dry confines of the North Warehouse. This year there were over 30 collaborations, more than a couple which surprised me in delightful ways. I would not have thought an India Pale Lager, a Doppelbock, a Yerba Mate-containing beer or a couple of Belgian styles would have hit the right notes with me. Yet they did, along with a sour, a couple of IPAs and a beer based on one of my favorite Girl Scout cookies. Quite an array of beers, no?

I was also thrilled to be part of the judging team that awarded Great Notion and Chad Graham's Amprosia Saison as the Judge's Choice winner. A beautiful color with a nicely sour nose and flavor, this pair - which I know both the pros and the amateur - showcased their talents with mixed fermentation and fruit. Runner up aka Honorable Mention went to the team of Rogue and Tracy Hensley for their barreled Belgian brew that combined the worlds of beer and wine.

The People's Choice went to one of the beers with a great name - Ex Novo and Jack Hall's It Burns When IPA, a jalapeno cream ale that had balanced heat and I'd love to have with nachos. Tied for People's Choice Honorable Mention were Fort George and Chris McNeel's The Doomed Rider, a wee heavy that was smoky and sweet and Bretta Persica, the Brett fermented IPA on nectarines from Coalition and Jon and Parker Hall that was fruity, dry and tart.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the most unique beer of the festival, Barely Legal Hazy CBD IPA. This creation came from Dean Pottle, Portland beer scene legend and proprietor of Dean's Scene, who passed away days earlier. CBD, the non-psychoactive substance in marijuana, was infused into a New England style IPA and I for one found the aroma of freshly harvested hops rolled between my palms and the flavor that mirrored it to be delicious.

In addition to the beers the food from both of the carts on hand - Thrive Sauce and Bowls (formerly Thrive NW) and PDX Sliders - were delicious and offered exactly what was needed to soak up all the liquid goodness.

There could have been more port-a-potties (are there ever enough at "that time" at a beer festival?) and it did get crowded as the afternoon went on but overall every year Steph Barnhart has improved this festival. (The charging station was a new addition that hopefully will become a festival feature as common as water stations.) I look forward to next year's iteration with great anticipation!

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