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.

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Angelo De Ieso -- MEDIA MAVEN


  1. I served last night and poured for Rogue and had a great time. Like you said it was busy for a Thursday.

    Rogue was right next to Dog Fish Head and the two ladies serving the Black & Red had a non-stop line to the back of the tent for that beer. Unbelievable.

    I'm heading over today to be on the other side of the table. Thanks for the lists and reviews.

  2. My take:

    Best beer: Firestone Walker IIPA. Fabulous blend of alcohol and hops.

    Hopworks IIPA. Second choice. Was #1 until I hit Firestone.

    Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild. A belgian strong ale with a lot of hop flavor.

    Hop Valley IPA. On my buddy Ned's list but not mine. Really good. Thanks Ned.

    Not as good as I thought.

    Caldera Hop Hash. They made a big deal about the extracted lupulin, etc. It was OK, but not as good as the best.

    Dogfish Head Black and Red. I could have brushed my teeth in this one. Very sweet, very minty, as much as I ever want to drink of it. I had to wash my glass out after this one.

  3. Brian, glad the lists were helpful!

    Lefty, you're a certified hop hound! Folks I've talked to about Dogfish Head Black & Red have either loved it or hated it. I certainly wouldn't drink a pint of it, but I enjoyed my 4 oz. taste.

  4. My favorite of the day was definitely Hop Valley's Imperial IPA


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