Brewer's Tasting Dinner at Oregon Garden Brewfest

The 8th Annual Oregon Garden Brewfest was held this past weekend in Silverton, Oregon. I visited the fest on Friday and you can see my recap here.  I also attended the festival's Brewer's Tasting dinner on Thursday night. Not only was it the first time OGBF held a tasting dinner, it was also the first time I attended such an event.  Here's my play-by-play of the dinner. The menu descriptions are in italics.

First Course

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Barrel Aged Seizoen Bretta
paired with 4-year-old cheddar, herbed chevre & smoked gouda paired with crostini

I first tasted Seizoen Bretta at the 2011 North American Organic Beer Festival and loved it. This is a barrel aged version. The light citrus, pepper, pear, and grassy notes paired well with the cheese (especially the goat cheese) and bread. I was even more thrilled to learn that my wife really liked this beer.  I can foresee 750s of Seizoen Bretta our future...

Second Course

GoodLife Brewing, Traditions Pale Ale
paired with belgian endive filled with a blend of olives, capers, roasted red peppers and caramelized onions

The endive received mixed reviews from my dining companions, who thought it was too salty. I liked the Mediterranean flavors in the filling. Traditions is GoodLife's Mountain Rescue Pale Ale aged in oak for 12 weeks. It wasn't as hoppy as I expected for a Paleperhaps the oak aging tempered the bitterness.

Third Course 

Seven Brides Brewing, Rose's Imperial Pilsner
paired with warm potato salad with Persian Blue potatoes, new red and yukon gold potatoes, tossed with sweet bacon dressing

 This beer is named after brewer Josiah's 8 year daughter. Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of the Imperial Pilsner style, which is an oxymoron, in my humble opinion. Anyway, the beer had a vegetal aroma with fruity flavors that seemed out of place. I don't like to dump beer, but I dumped this one. Although I didn't like RIP, I enjoyed the two Seven Brides brews I tasted the next dayAbbey's Apple Ale (at the festival) and Abbey (at the Seven Brides Brewpub).  

Fourth Course

Widmer Brothers Brewing, Marionberry Hibiscus Gose
paired with fresh spring mix tossed with raspberry vinaigrette and topped with bleu cheese, grapes, and candied hazelnuts

 What an excellent beer! The tartness from the berries and the salt (used to brew Gose) provided an usually refreshing and tasty combination. Want to try this beer? You're in luck. It appears the Widmer Brothers will be releasing this beer later this year as part of their Series 924. Oh, the salad was nice.

Fifth Course

 Gigantic Brewing, The City Never Sleeps Imperial Black Saison
paired with braised beef short rib slow roasted with a root vegetable demi-glace

 OK, I need to fess up. At this point in the dinner, I pretty much stopped taking notes so I'm going from memory. Imperial Black Saison may also be an oxymoron, but with flavors of dark fruit and spice, this one worked for me. Brewed for Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers, this will be Gigantic's first bottled beer. A chili pepper version of this will be served at Portland Fruit Beer Fest. The short rib was good, but I wasn't paying much attention to the pairing at this point.

Sixth Course

Hopworks Urban Brewery, Galactic Imperial Red 
paired with poached pear with a marscapone cheese filling

 This was the most out of place pairing of the evening. The flavor from the pear and the marscapone cheese was slightly sweet and subtle, but didn't stand up to bitter hop smack down meted out by Galactic Imperial Red. This 100+ IBU behemoth is rightly served at the end of the tasting, but I would have paired it with a gooey chocolate brownie and scoop of vanilla ice cream. I don't know if it would pair any better, but it's my favorite dessert!

As you can tell, it was a great dinner. It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my first beer pairing experience! I hope the Oregon Garden Brewfest crew makes this dinner an annual tradition. Full Disclosure: OGBF organizers invited me to the Brewer's Dinner and Brewfest as a guest.

Did you attend the tasting dinner?  What were your favorite beers and courses?

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Ben  Love:  full-time brewer, aspiring lounge comedian

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