Oregon Brewers Festival: My Final Round

My wife and I went to opening day of OBF and attended a media preview where I sampled 15 beers.  I went back on Friday to volunteer and do some more sampling.  Here's what I tasted during Round 2:

  • Widmer Bros, Foggy Bog Cranberry Ales (Fruit Beer):   Beautiful reddish color, slightly tart with a mild sweetness. This was one of my OBF favorites.  I actually sampled this on Thursday and volunteered to pour it on Friday afternoon.  I can tell you that people absolutely loved this beer! During my busy shift, only two people said they didn't like itand one of them didn't like cranberry. I hope Widmer Bros. releases this broadly, perhaps as part of their Series 924.  It would be a great fall seasonal release.  I even had the pleasure of serving Jacob Leonard his first taste of Foggy Bog.  Jacob is a brewer at Widmer and was involved in its creation.  He even named it.  So Jacob, can you get us more Foggy Bog?

Me serving Jacob Leonard his first taste of Foggy Bog Cranberry Ale

  • Goose Island, Pepe Nero (Belgian Farmhouse Ale):  From my home state of Illinois, this black brew had a smoked malt aroma and pepper and clove in flavor.  
  • Vertigo Brewing, Razz Wheat (Fruit Beer):  This beer inspired my Raspberry Wheat homebrew. I like Razz's balance of raspberry and wheat.  It captures the tart raspberry flavor but without a lot of sweetness. 
  • Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Berry White (Fruit Beer):  Another raspberry wheat beer, but with a Belgian twist.  The Trappist yeast adds pepper and another layer of fruity character.  I think my wife is slowly turning into a Belgian beer fan.  That works for me!
  • Hollister Brewing Co.Altered State (German Sticke Beer):  I've never heard of this style, so I had to try it.  It had smoked malt and spicy noble hop flavors.  Try it if you get a chance.
  • Rock Bottom Brewery, Zombie Flanders (Flanders Red Ale):  I love sour beers, so this was on my must-try list.  It has that funky Brettanomyces aroma and a mild sour flavor.  I enjoyed it, but expect it will get even better (more sour) with age.
  • Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Imperial Stout  BUZZ Tent beer.  Dark tan head, with aromas and flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and espresso.  Creamy with stealthy alcohol.  Excellent!
  • Surly Brewing, Five (Sour Ale):  BUZZ Tent beer.  My last OBF taste.  I didn't know what it was but decided to try it because I never tasted a Surly beer.  I was elated when the server told me it was a sour.  I must have some good beer karma going on.  Reddish brown in color with a tan head, funky aroma great (strong) sour flavor with oak.  I'd love to drink this one again!  The perfect beer for me to end my OBF '11 experience.

It appears the Buzz Tent was quite a hit this year.  Late Friday night, OBF sent out a message stating that ALL of the Buzz beers had been consumed dryduring the first two days!  I'm glad I visited early.

So that's it for me.  I don't do OBF on Saturdays.  However if you still haven't attended, Sunday is good day to visit.  By the final day, all of the wild folks have had their fill and are long gone.  I've found the Sunday crowd to be lighter and generally more mellow.  Although Buzz Tent has been packed up for the year, don't despair.  85 "regular" beers will still be available for your sampling pleasure.  For more beer recommendations, check out BeervanaIt's Pub Night, Brewmance, and my three tasting flights.

Signing out from the 2011 Oregon Brewers' Festival...

What were your favorite and least favorite OBF beers?

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Me and Nico Freccia (co-founder of 21st Amendment Brewery)

Oregon Brewers Festival: Tastes from Day 1

OBF kicked off yesterday.  We took the day off, left the kids with grandma, and headed down to Waterfront Park to enjoy some beer.  We started the afternoon by attending a media preview (not sure whey they let me in) where we sampled 15 beers.  Let's get down to business:

  • Ninkaski Brewing, Helles Belles (Munich Helles):  This is from Ninkasi?  A mildly hopped, smooth, easy drinking beer.  A good choice to start your OBF session.
  • Upright Brewing, Offen Weisse (Weizen):   Has the banana and clove aromas typical of a German Hefeweizen.
  • Full Sail, Jimvar Bohemian Pilsner:  This pilsner features spicy Czech Saaz hops and a bready malt base.  A nice summer quaffer.  
  • Collaborator, Hopfinium (Strong Lager):  Made by homebrewers in collaboration with Widmer Brothers, this brew features Cascade, Summit, and Simcoe hops.  It has tropical fruit aromas and a lingering hop bitterness.
  • Burnside Brewing, Gratzer:  One of the more unique beers I tasted, this Polish style uses wheat smoked over apple wood.  It had a distinctive smoky aroma and flavor that ultimately, was too overpowering for me.
  • Boneyard Brewing, Girl Beer (Fruit Beer),  This beer committed a cardinal sin in my bookit promised a fruit flavor that it didn't deliver.  The dark cherries were not present in aroma and barely noticeable in flavor.  I was looking forward to tasting this and was disappointed.
  • Fort George, Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale:  A highly hopped brew that reminded me of an IPA.  I thought the oatmeal would provide a creamy mouth feel (as it often does in stouts), but it didn't. 

  • Boundary Bay Brewery, Double Dry Hopped Glacier Pale Ale:  This single-hop beer, made especially for OBF, uses only Glacier hops.  Very nicely balanced with great citrus hop flavors.
  • Columbia River Brewing, Nyctophobia IPA (Cascadian Dark Ale):   This style brings us IPA hoppiness combined with the malts flavors of a porter.  I've tasted a lot of CDAs in the last year, and this is one of the better ones!  By the way, if you refer to the style as a Black IPA within the state of Oregon, you'll probably make a beer geek cry.
  • Lagunitas, Little Sumpin' Wild (Strong Belgian Pale Ale):  A Belgian yeast strain gives this some funky aromas and flavors.  It has a decent amount of sweetness and sports a 8.7% ABV.
  • Prodigal Son Brewery & Pub, Bruce/Lee Porter:  Black in color with rich roasted coffee aroma and flavor.  Smooth and creamy!
  • Beer Valley Brewing, Jackalope Imperial Pumpkin Porter:  Does the presence of pumpkin mean fall is almost here?  When did summer just start?  Worry not, there was little pumpkin in aroma, and the flavor was more like squash.  I did taste the nutmeg, though. 

  • FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Donner Party Porter:  Another Imperial Porter, this one features 11 different malts and molasses with flavors of dark chocolate and espresso.  Drink a pint of this and call it lunch.
  • Elysian Brewing,  Idiot Sauvin (IPA):  Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand give this brew a tropical fruit flavor.
  • Dogfish Head, Black & Red (Imperial Stout):  Whoa, Nellie!  This raspberry mint beer will not be confused with any other brew at OBF.  It smells like Andes candies, is sweet, and heavy in body.  At 10.3% ABV, it's the biggest beer at the fest, but the alcohol is very stealthy.  This is made for sipping!  Definitely worth a try!

My favorites of the day were Columbia River's Nyctophobia IPA and Dogfish Head's Black & Red.  I'll be back tomorrow to pour beer and have another round of samples.

So I have a question?  Who revealed the "secret" about attending OBF on Thursday?  I could not believe how big the crowd was on opening day.  We attended last year, and the crowds were much smaller!  The video below was shot at 2:30pm, but it got much more crowded by 4pm.  Who knows, maybe Saturday is the new Thursday?  Somehow, I doubt that...

Did you visit OBF on Thursday?  What memorable beers did you taste?  If you're having trouble deciding what beers to sample, download my three OBF tasting flights.  For more beer profiles, check out my OBF Day 2 summary.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Angelo De Ieso -- MEDIA MAVEN

Oregon Brewers Festival: 3 Tasting Flights!

Photo courtesy of Oregon Brewers Festival
The Oregon Brewers Festival starts today!  I've been looking forward to OBF and have written about the beer lineup and most popular styles, OBF facts & figures, and the Buzz beers.

Today, I address a dilemma that you may soon face...  Which of the 86 beers are you going to drink?  Odds are, you probably won't drink all of them.  So you'll need to make some decisions.  In the past, I've been absolutely baffled when staring at the sea of taps.

Don't despair.  I've got suggestions for you!  I've sketched out three tasting flights that cover different levels of beer enthusiasm.  Be advised that I have not tasted all of these beers.  You can download the complete list here if you want to print it and take it to the festival.  In the downloadable list, I explain why I added each beer to the flight, show the basic stats, and provide space for you to jot tasting notes.

Off we go...

Flight #1:  Craft Beer Newbie:  You just want to try some of the typical styles.  Nothing too crazy.

Offen Weisse
Upright Brewing Co
Alaskan White Ale
Alaskan Brewing Co
Razz Wheat
Vertigo Brewing
Golden Cap
New Holland Brewing Co
Hoopla Pale Ale
Boulder Beer Co
Double Mountain Pilsner
Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom
Jamaica Sunrise ESB
Mad River Brewing Co
FivePine Porter
Three Creeks Brewing Co
Single-Wide IPA
Boulevard Brewing Co
Discord Dark IPA
Discord Dark IPA

Flight #2:  Beer Explorer:  You're know the basic styles, and want to take your exploration to the next level.

Summer Solstice Cervesa Crema
Anderson Valley Brewing
Black & Red
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Daily Dose Summer Ale
Oakshire Brewing
Helles Belles
Ninkasi Brewing Co
Dark Mexican Lager
Big Sky Brewing
Pepe Nero
Goose Island Beer Co
Wasatch Summerbrau Lager
Wasatch Beers
CoCoNut Porter
Maui Brewing Co
Donner Party Porter
FiftyFifty Brewing Co
Deschutes Brewery
Great Divide Brewing Co
Hop Rod Rye
Bear Republic Brewing Co
Double Jack
Firestone Walker Brewing Co

Flight #3:  You're a Beer Geek and proud of it!  At festivals, you only drink unique, one-off brews.

Mint Kölsch
Gilgamesh Brewing
Surly Brewing
Jackalope Imperial Pumpkin Porter
Beer Valley Brewing
Girl Beer
Boneyard Beer
Foggy Bog Cranberry Ale
Widmer Brothers Brewing
Gluten Free NWPA
Deschutes Brewery
Bruce/Lee Porter
Prodigal Son Brewery & Pub
Zitrone Kölsch
10 Barrel Brewing
Zombie Flanders
Rock Bottom Brewery
Altered State
Hollister Brewing Co
Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter
Laughing Dog Brewing
Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale
Fort George Brewery and Public House
Siamese Twin Ale
Uncommon Brewers

So click here to download the flights, drink plenty of water between beers, eat well, take Tri-Met, and have a great time.  Cheers!

Which flight would you drink?  Would you make any changes?

7/29 update:  Check out my Day 1 recap of OBF.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Review: True Blonde Dubbel, Ska Brewing

True Blonde Dubbel
Ska Brewing Co. — Durango, CO

  • Style:  Belgian Golden Ale
  • Bitterness:  36 IBUs
  • ABV: 8.0%
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle  (Full disclosure: sample provided by brewery)

Description:  "Belgian, buxom, and sweet as the candy sugar she's made with.  The TBD, a Belgian style golden ale features spicy clove and nutmeg undertones--a nice beer for brunch." — Ska Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:   This is part of my series on Belgian style beers.  True Blonde Dubbel is part of Ska's Robust Reincarnation series where they reinvent a few flagship brews (True Blonde Ale, in this case) as a bigger beer.  I went on weekend camping trip and took three
bombers to share (the others were Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale and Double Jack).  Ska's beer is not available in Oregon.

The tasting:  Golden yellow in color (hazy) with a white head that dissipated slowly. Aroma of clove, banana, white pepper, and yeast.  Flavors of sweet malt, coriander, pepper, and citrus.  Light bodied, with light carbonation, it had a smooth mouth feel and finished with a spicy hop bitterness.  The 8% ABV was well masked.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   While True Blonde Dubbel didn't have a lot of complexity, it had the flavors I look for in a Belgian Golden.  It's not light in alcohol, but was very drinkable.  Most importantly, it was enjoyed by all the campers who tried it.
Have you tried True Blond Dubbel or any other Ska brews?

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook