This year at Oregon Brewers Festival there seemed to be a number of lighter/Summer-style offerings, including a number of Cream Ales, Pilsners, Kolsch’s, and a style I wasn’t familiar with called Dortmund Export. In his very thoughtful “Beer/No Beer” rumination on styles and perceptions, Jeff Alworth (Beervana) briefly discussed the Dortmund Export and got me interested in finding out more about this style. In addition to being an appealing style, Dortmund Export has an interesting (and rocky in modern times) history and an intriguing association with the German laborer — worth a read. There were three Portland-based interpretations of this style available at OBF. All were good, I thought, but I agree with Jeff that Breakside’s Float is excellent — soft and clean yet delicately flavorful. I’ll continue seek this one out as der Sommer weiter gehen.
Also, as a homebrewer I’m always interested in learning more about specific hop varieties. For this reason, I love to try single-hop beers as little self-study exercises. Double Mountain’s excellently named OBF beer this year, the ClusterF#ck, is all about the Cluster hop. (Note: This is not the first year they brought ClusterF#ck — did I not get to this one before?) Again, the Cluster hop was something I was unfamiliar with, so, again, I looked it up. Turns out this was, out of necessity and convenience, the go-to American hop for, well, ever, but fell out of favor due to American hop inferiority issues, but has been falling back into favor due to the the craft brewing movement’s interest in, um, interesting flavors and local ingredients. It’s another interesting history lesson you can read more about.
Anyway, I’m starting to sound like a history teacher and not an OBF beer drinker, so back to the beer.,, At 85 IBU’s, this was very much about the hops (bitterness, flavor, and aroma). I like big, hoppy IPA’s, and thought this was a good one. i just wish I could sit down in a less distracting (and often way too aromatic) environment than OBF with a full pint of this stuff to really try picking up the nuances of the Cluster.
Also, this year’s OBF was the first time I got to try Rogue’s Beard Beer, based around yeast from the facial hair of brewmaster John Maier. I had to try it just to say I did so, but it was a nice, round, nuanced “Golden Belgian”-style beer according to OBF (“American Wild Ale” according to other sources, but it does have sweet-ish, boozy, slightly spiced sort of Golden Belgian thing going).