The Oregon Brewers Festival was just big enough to be huge, not so big as too be overwhelming. They had said they had 85 beers on tap (not including some special, limited-availability beers in the Buzz Tent), and I think I tasted about half of them. I say “I think” because I managed to lose my tasting notes on the way to the airport. Fortunately, I remember my favorites pretty well.
So here’s how it worked: You paid six bucks to get a mug, and then you could buy tokens for a dollar each. One token would get you a taste of beer — about two or three ounces — and four would fill your mug. There was one beer from each of the participating breweries. The festival bought eighteen kegs of each, which they tapped on a schedule. If they killed a keg and it wasn’t yet time to tap the next one, it would be unavailable for a little while. This meant that the most popular beers didn’t run out on Saturday, which was nice for those of us trying to taste beer on Sunday afternoon.
Gwen and I first wandered over to the festival on Thursday evening, to see how it worked. We tasted half a dozen or so beers that night. It was really nice: the pours were big enough that we could both reasonably sample from one, so we’d each get a beer in the same style (like a Scottish Ale or a Raspberry Wheat), taste, trade, and talk about the beers. That last part was my favorite, as talking with someone else about whatever I’m tasting always makes me a better taster. Eventually we got hungry and wandered off in search of dinner.
I went back to the Festival on Friday and Sunday afternoons, using Gwen’s mug as a way to continue to pair beers for tasting. I ended up pouring out a fair of amount of beer for the sake of being able to continue to be able to taste. That — and the huge number of beers vying for my attention — meant that I was pretty ruthless in my evaluations. There were a lot of beers that I would have been perfectly happy to get at a bar that I just said “It’s ok” about and moved on. That means that these six, which were my favorites, must have been pretty special:
- 10 Barrel Brewing - Zitrone Kölsch
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery - Black & Red Raspberry Mint Stout
- Fearless Brewing - Strong Scotch Ale (at the Buzz Tent)
- Laughing Dog Brewing - Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter
- Rock Bottom Brewery - Zombie Flanders
- Salmon Creek Brewery - Otus the Red
The one big gap in my tasting scorecard was IPAs and Pale Ales. I like to pick certain categories and taste every beer in the group, and there were just too many of these. I also realized that after tasting a dozen IPAs, my palate would be so overwhelmed with hops that I wouldn’t able to taste anything else. So, with the exception of the Cascadian Black Ale sub-category, I largely decided to skip these and focus on fully exploring other categories, like porters or wheat beers.
The Festival was incredibly well-run and a great time. I hope to make it back next year. Perhaps with a posse?
UpdateFitness: Rest day
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 123 words, 242 seven-day average, 264 average, 32681 total, 1329 to go for the week; 20-day streak