The annual Oregon Brewers Festival is opening a day earlier this year. Starting next Wednesday, the 24th there will be a full five days of drinking on the waterfront.
No more plastic cups. For $7, you will now be buying a 12.8 oz. glass (down from 14 oz. last year), which can be filled for four tokens. The one token taster size is now three ounces instead of four. The shorter taster pour is the result of new OLCC rules that apply to all beer festivals in the state. The law does allow for full pours at beer festivals to be up to 16 ounces, so you can blame the OBF itself for the full glass shorting.
When asked about the reduction in size of a full pour, a festival rep said that they “couldn’t find a 14 oz. glass that met our needs.” This is from a festival that draws an estimated 80,000 people. One would think that anybody wanting 80K of anything would be able to dictate their needs, unless of course, their needs are selling less beer for the same amount of money. In the end, the ideal way to experience the festival is the same as it’s always been: grab a friend or two and split samples, tasting as much as you can while imbibing as little. Plus, I always prefer tasting out of glass over plastic. The festival has promised to donate leftover and left behind glassware.
Some sad news for connoisseur: The seemingly successful buzz and sour tents have been eliminated entirely, leaving just 84 beers in total being poured over five days. More well-versed festival goers may find the selection a little too limited to warrant repeated visits.
Several of the beers pouring at the festival are repeats from years past, or are so widely available that it would be foolish to waste precious sobriety points on them. To skip: 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat (for goodness sakes, you can buy this in six packs at Freddies), Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (see previous), Full Sail Session Black Lager, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat, Omission (pouring just for your GF GF — gluten-free girl -friend) and Rogue Beard Beer (a gimmick available on tap at all the pubs which I am too grossed-out by to taste).
The following are also readily available in bottle and on tap but are so freaking delicious that they warrant your tokens:
- Ballast Point Sculpin IPA — What up West coast IPA!
- Laht Neppur Peach Hefe — Amirite ladies? This slightly fruity summer sipper is low in alcohol and high in flavor – two things that we want when temps top 90.
- Cascade Raspberry Wheat — Crisp, lightly acidic and nicely effervescent.
- North Coast PranQster — This big Belgian golden hits all the right notes and is a treat to have on tap.
- Pfeim Wit — Yes, it’s on tap in half of PDX’s better restaurants because it is such a great food beer, but that shouldn’t matter to you, take any opportunity you can to drink this fantastic wit (it’s pronounced “freem”, BTW)
Here’s a list of what I’m most excited to taste:
- 13 Virtues Brewing Traverse Cherry Wheat – Named presumably after Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues of Life (one of which is temperance, I might add), this brand new brewery is nestled into the back of Westmoreland’s Philadelphia’s Steaks.
- Gigantic & Juice – Another beer cocktail (this time added pineapple, grapefruit and tangerine juices), excepting this one is from Gigantic, so you can almost guarantee that there will be a big big love in store for tasters.
- Gilgamesh DJ Jazzy Hefe – Yes, I will try this one for the name alone.
- Great Divide Collette Farmhouse Saison – The grain bill has me curious: barley, wheat and rice.
- Hale’s 30 Anniversary Double Pale – I stand in line for Imperial anything, and this has the added curiosity of being open fermented.
- Epic Hop Syndrome Lager – I’m in love with the bigger, braver beers that they normally produce, and it will be interesting to see what do with this. One of the few lagers at the fest as well.
- Fearless Peaches and Cream Ale – I tasted this on a brewery tour a couple of weeks ago and found it immensely drinkable. There’s a whole lot of flavor packed into a 4.8 ABV beer.
- Collaborator Smoked Helles — For a gentle introduction into the fine art of rauch (smoke) beers, look no further than this OBC winning Babmberg-style helles.
- Dogfish Namaste – Though this witbier is available in bottle form, I’m betting that this Belgian beauty will taste great on tap.
- Boneyard Bone-a-fied Pale Ale – This drinks more like an IPA than a pale ale. Though it clocks in at just 40 IBUs, the three Cs (Cascade, Centennial and Chinook) come out in a big floral hoppy finish.
- Heathen Transgression IPA – You will be punished for your transgressions with 80 IBUs of assaultingly delicious hoppiness.
- Fire Mountain Bogart NW IPA — 99 IBUs, respect.
- Firestone Walker Unfiltered Rye IPA – This GABF Gold medal winner with dark malts and spicy rye is unfiltered, unfined and lagered for four weeks. I’m anticipating something complete unique.
- Ohio Brewing O’Hoppy Ale IPA –Traveling all the way from the Buckeye State and coming in at a big 85 IBUs, this powerful IPA packs a punch with Columbus, Cascade, Warrior and Kent Goldings in the boil and a Centennial dry hopping for good measure.
Coming in at more than 100 IBUs: Seven Brides Frankenlou’s IPA, Silver Moon Bone Crusher Imperial Red Ale (with a balancing 8.6 ABV), Stone Delicious IPA (at 116!)
Further perusal of the program notes read like many brewers have hit an exotic food market, so many adjunct and post-fermentation fruit flavors. This is not an Iron Chef event, this is a beer festival. Step away from the produce! I’ll pass on tasting the following:
- 10 Barrel Brewing Swill – Seeing how this is a radler, it might not be fair to put it in the “dump” category. But I recently found it difficult to finish off a pint of this soda-like concoction. It’s just too sweet.
- Dunedin Chronicle 11 Subtropical IPA – Toasted coconut, grapefruit peel, pink peppercorns combined with 75 IBUs of Calypso, Summit and Nelson Sauvin hops? It just sounds like an unappetizing mistake.
- Mt. Shasta Skip and Go Naked – Ginger and strawberry hefe? See above.
- Terminal Gravity Craft Malt Liquor – Ten per cent ABV with NW Pale, Vienna and Munich malts? I can imagine a toe-curling sweetness and sickly maltiness.
A super secret discount package deal will go on sale at 8am this Thursday, July 18th. These sell out within minutes, so act fast: www.getmyperks.com/portland
For a complete list of beers and more information: http://www.oregonbrewfest.com
www.Twitter.com/OregonBrewfest, Tweet out your favorite buzz beers using the hastag #OBF
WED, JULY 24: Noon to 9pm
THUR, JULY 25: Noon to 9pm
FRI, JULY 26: Noon to 9pm
SAT, JULY 27, Noon to 9pm
SUN, July 27: Noon to 7pm
Purchase a $7 glass and $1 tokens for tasting at the SW Oak/SW Pine (center) entrance.
Take Max — Oak St. stop
Bike Corral located on the North end of the festival