Afternoon at Pints in the Pearl

The Inaugural Pints in the Pearl was held last Saturday in Portland. After living in Portland for 18 years, and attending many beer festivals, I've become conditioned to expect something. In my mind, this expectation is an integral and inseparable part of the beer festival experience. For me, beer festivals are all about tasting small samples of many beers.

Then I heard about Pints in the Pearl. The name said it allPINTS. Here's a festival that planned to serve full pints of beer, with no option for small pours. Blasphemy! After all, any beer loving Portlander knows you can get a sample of beer at almost any fest for $1. Not here, every beer costs $5. Crazy talk!

You may recall that temperatures last weekend were north of 100° F. Since the Pearl District is essentially a big strip of concrete, I decided not to attend for fear that I might melt. However, I had about an hour to kill, was in the area, and the festival organizers invited me down to check it out.

I'll cut to the chase by saying I thoroughly enjoyed Pints in the Pearl. Yes, it was very different from what I expected, but that's not always a bad thing. It had more of street festival vibe than that of a beer fest. A live band, plenty of delicious food options, and activities such as volleyball, cornhole, and ping pong added to the event's charm. While it was was blazing hot, shaded tables and plenty of water stations provided temporary respite.

The food is worth special mention. All options, priced at $5 (a cost of a single token) were a great value. We (my seven-year-old) and I shared pulled pork sliders from Fat Heads and Grilled Adobo Chicken from Verde Cocina. Both were excellent!

Regarding the beer.  I'm a lover of the Berliner Weiss, so I opted for a pint of BridgePort's Pearl-iner Weiss. As it's traditionally served, they offered a few syrups to go with the beer, but I passed on those. Pearl-iner had a nice bready malt backbone and a mild tartness. Perfect for a scorching afternoon. I hope BridgePort brings this beer back for a wider release. I really wanted to taste Fat Head's Kettle Sour #4, but I didn't want to drink a another full pint.

Anyway, Pints in the Pearl was an unexpected surprise. It showed me there's more to beer festivals than tasting numerous small samples. Sometimes, it's nice to settle into just a beer or two...

But, for next year's Pints in the Pearl, I would humbly request that organizers offer a "half-pint" option. Old habits die hard...

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