Afternoon at Portland International Beerfest

I spent last Sunday afternoon at Portland International Beerfest.  Import brews are a mystery to me, so I thought PIB would provide a great opportunity to explore.

I volunteered for a few hours pouring beer from an exotic producer known as Hopworks Urban Brewery, from the far-off land of SE Powell Blvd.  While not so international, HUB brews up some tasty beer and I had the unique pleasure of serving it from the famous bike bar.

While the festival highlights international beers, about 50% were from domestic brewers.  At first, I was turned off by that fact, but later found it to be a comfortable crutch as I scanned through a long list of unrecognizable imports.

The weather at the start of Sunday afternoon was not exactly conducive to outdoor activities (see video clip below).  Since the festival got off to a very slow start, I had plenty of time to map out my sampling strategy.

With advice from fellow volunteers and attendees, I embarked on my international beer tasting adventure.  Here’s what I tasted in the order I tasted.  All samples were 4 oz. pours and the price of each sample is listed:

  • Double Mountain, Oregon, Rainer Kriek (Strong Cherry Sour Ale, 9.0% ABV, $3):   Double Mountain makes two Krieks.  Devil’s Kriek was my favorite brew at Portland Fruit Beer Fest, so I had high expectations for this one.  Raineer Creek was highly acidic and a bit too much tart cherry flavor for my tastes.  A great beer, but I preferred its sibling, Devil’s Kriek.  Last week, Double Mountain held a unique Kriek Kamp.  A few of my fellow beer bloggers attended.  Check out coverage from The Daily Pull and Beervana.  That’s one camp where I’d like to spend the entire summer!
  • Stone Brewing, California, 2008 IRS Elijah Craig Bourbon (Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, 10.8% ABV, 65 IBU, $2):  Aroma and flavor of bittersweet chocolate and bourbon with a warming sensation in the finish.  Delicious now, will be amazing in 2-3 years!  I visited Stone World Gardens & Bistro in Escondido, CA last month.  Amazing place.
  • Deschutes Brewing, Oregon, White IPA (Details not provided, $1):  Hazy yellow in color with a citrus aroma, and light grapefruit hop bitterness.  This was my first taste of a White IPA and I liked it a lot.  It was reminiscent of a CDA because it stands on its own a unique style.
  • Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Oregon, Razzberry Wheat (aka Jellyroll) (Fruit Beer, 4.5% ABV, 18 IBU, $1):   Red in color, light berry aroma.  This was all raspberry!  The 4 oz. pour was plenty.
  • Cantillion, Belgium, Iris (Cold hopped Lambic, 5% ABV, 10 IBU, $3):  This was one of the rare, limited availability brews.  I heard great things, so I had to try it.  Aroma of citrus, apple, and slight funk.  It had a vinegary tartness and finished dry.  I liked it, glad I tried it, but it didn’t rock my world.
  • Wandering Aengus, Oregon, Anthem Cherry Cider (6.2% ABV, $1):  Sour pie cherry flavors dominated, but not overly sweet or tart.  Great balance!  I’ve recently started exploring ciders, and I loved this one!
  • Oakshire Brewing, Oregon, Pinot Barrel Duck Billed Platypus (Strong Ale, 8% ABV, 76 IBU, $1):   With a name like that, how could you not try it?  Smoky malts in aroma and flavor.  The pinot barrel flavor was subtle and didn’t stand up to the malts.  This is a Belgian Rye Cascadian Dark Ale, but I didn’t taste those flavors.  I give Oakshire an “A” for effort, but PBDBP didn’t work for me.  Bonus question—what’s the plural form of platypus?
  • Birrificio Montegioco, Italy, Draco (Blueberry Barleywine, 11% ABV, 22 IBU, $5):   My most expensive beer of the day had loads of sediment floating in suspension.  It had light blueberry flavor with alcohol throughout, but was not hot.  A good sipping beer. 

So there you have it.  My favorites of the day were Stone’s ’08 IRS Elijah Craig and Wandering Aengus’ Anthem Cherry Cider.  In the end, I only ventured overseas for two samples.  I hoped to try Bourgogne De Flandres (a Belgian sour), but it was tapped out.  Regardless, I had a great time trying 8 unique beers that were all new to me. 

Did you attend PIB?  What were your favorites?

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