Portland, OR - It's Friday and despite the calendar indicating July 29th this writer has been a guest of the Rose City since Wednesday. With visits to up and coming breweries (like Burnside, Brookside), pubs (APEX, Grain & Gristle) , and restaurants (Higgins); we almost forgot about why we took the train down here.
Already in its second day, the Oregon Brewers Festival is a celebration of craft beer throughout the region. But this festival isn't about JUST Oregon beer. Featuring amongst the many taps you will 30 different beer styles, spread across 84 different breweries. On top of this (and in their third year) the buzz tent rotates through another 50, starting with Thursday's kick off.
So whether your reading this on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, we thought would take the time to make a few suggestions; courtesy of a preview from the OBF organizing committee.
Upright Offen Weisse (4.50%). Produced from one of the few open fermentation breweries in the country, this "all-organic" German-inspired beer uses Gambrinus Pils, Great Western (Malt Company) wheat, and Munich malt. Combine this with a single variety of "all-organic" hops and you have the makings of classically brewed Bavarian-style Hefeweizen.
Despite the traditional opaque glassware, this beer appears honey in color and dense while producing an initial strong half inch of head. Whether you have this in four ounces of a full pour your nose will be greeted by hints of citrus, spice (clove?), and mild notes of banana; indicative of this style. Overall this beer produces a mild to medium weight as it coarse across the tongue.
About Upright Brewing
Upright Brewing specializes in farhmhouse inspired beers rooted in France and Belgium but made with local ingredients and a Pacific Northwest twist. The name is a reference to Charles Mingus, a musician whose compositions defy categorization. Upright uses a special saison yeast and open fermenters to produce beers that are a true hybrid style, sharing Mingus' spirit of exercising creativity and craft." -source, the Oregon Brewers Festival guide
Burnside Gratzer Applewood-smoked Specialty Beer (5.67%) . Despite what you might believe Portland does not stop at Downtown when it comes to breweries. Sure you have classics like Rogue or Deschutes, but believe it or not, it's the Eastern side of the Willamette where the action is. Already we have mentioned one of these such breweries (Upright) so we would like to mention another, Burnside.
Getting's it namesake from the street it's located on, you would have to be blind not see this brewery and restaurant. Featured at the festival this year for the first time is their Smoked ale Gratzer. For this beer the brewery smoked 600lbs. of white wheat over apple wood. If the process seems odd you should know this was the process used in the early days of brewing in Europe. The end result is a "... lightly toasted, nutty flavor with a specialty smoky finish. Unfiltered it's cloudy and flavorful and a great accompaniment to smoked meats." -source, Oregon Brewers guide to the festival.
Pale Yellow and dense (due to the unfiltered process), Burnside Gratzen produces an aroma filled with notes of earth (green grass, floral), smoke (mmm campfire). Sipping on this one cannot help but take in bits of spice (can you guess which ones?), along with mild citrus. Overall this beer has a mild weight to it as it rests on the tongue.
About Burnside Brewing
"One of Portland's newsiest microbreweries, Burnside Brewing produces beers that are unfiltered, opting for the lagering process to remove particulates. This requires an increased time commitment, but pays dividends in the depth of characters and flavor profile of its offerings. Vit the pub on East Burnside and try its Burnside IPA, Oatmeal Pale and Sweet Heat Wheat." -source, Oregon Brewers guide to the festival.
Fort George Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale (5.17%). Whether you have a lust for Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, or just want to thumb your nose at Washington state from across the Columbia; there is something about Astoria. Because of this we wanted to invite those unwilling to drive three hours away to sample a Fort George beer. Listed as an Ale made with "Pre-gelatinized flaked oats from Briess" this beer could be called a true breakfast beer.
Despite what you might believe, this beer has a great balance of sweet biscuits mixed citrus bitterness. Top that off with the fact that the aroma is not bitter at all and you have the makings of a pleasant ale to enjoy in the sun.
About Fort George Brewing
"The founders of Fort George crossed the US in a truck, looking for a home for it brewery. In the cornfields of Nebraska, a tornado nearly scattered the truck and its contents to the winds. Fort George tries to impart that same intensity in every pint of beer they brew. Visit its Astoria pub and try its Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale, Panamax Porter or its many other tasty brews. " -source, Oregon Brewers guide to festival.
Finally we have one beer that we would like to mention specifically for those who shun the light for something dark or bitter.
The Prodigal Son Bruce / Lee Porter (8.10%). Listed in the festival guide as a Porter infused with "... Northwest Pale, dark Crystal, Kiln Coffee and Vienna malts" this American-style Porter had our attention from the first sip. What makes this even more worthwhile for this writer is that the brewery is situated in Pendleton, OR; home of the famous Round-up.
In spite of the alcohol content there's nothing harsh about this darkness in a glass. Word to the wise don't get a full glass of this unless you want to make an early exit from the festival. Overall this beer has a medium weight to it as one enjoys each swallow.
About The Prodigal Son Brewery & Pub
"Located at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Mountains in Pendleton, OR, the Prodigal Son is dedicated to exploring the possibilities of grain, hops and yeast. From its dry-hopped Northwest IPA to its malt-heavy porter, Prodigal Son incorporates regional ingredients into beers that go beyond convention. The same goes for the pub's great nosh menu. Head East! " -source, Oregon Brewers Festival guide
Well that's it. Bear in mind we only scratched the surface of what is out there at this year's festival. So get over to Tom McCall park today, Saturday, or Sunday.
The Oregon Brewers Festival is located at Tom McCall Waterfront Park off Natio Parkway between the Morrison and Burnside bridges. For more information including the draft list visit the website at http://www.oregonbrewfest.com/
In the interest of technical details this was written from a smartphone, so apologies on the format.
Fine print. The Oregon Brewers Festival organizing committee provided many of the beers listed in order to allow us a chance to sample ahead of time. For that we would like to thank them.