F+ Beer

Adventures in Homebrewing and All Things Hoppy

Archive for the tag “Oregon Brewers Festival”

Thank a Volunteer

You know, I don’t have a lot to say about Oregon Brewer’s Festival that others haven’t already said, but I couldn’t help but notice — one second here —


…Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, the servers at the counters are almost always friendly.  Even after several hours of standing in the hot, dusty air, constantly pouring beer after beer, sometimes for totally sh#tfaced and occasionally obnoxious patrons.  These volunteers must really like craft beer.




Three Interesting Beers at OBF

Courtesy germanbeerinstitute.com

Courtesy germanbeerinstitute.com

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).

Impressions of Portland International Beerfest

I’ve regularly attended the Oregon Brewers Festival  (OBF) for a number of years but have never been to the Portland International Beerfest (PIB).  There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Higher entry price and expensive pours
  • Reports that most beers aren’t actually international
  • The fact that many international beers at IBF are not exotic at all
  • PIB generally happens right up against OBF
  • Reports of it being shoulder-to-shoulder crowded, worse than OBF at its peak

Allow me to convey my general impression via cartoonishly stereotypical exaggeration: IBF equals “brewfest light” — a snootier event “in the Pearl district”, where one might see buzzed yuppies absently sipping Stella.  Something like that, anyway.

That being said, a beer enthusiast friend encouraged my wife and I to check it out this year, and we were really glad we went.  I was pleasantly surprised.

(There were also draft tents)

IBF Bottle Tents

First off, there were 160 beers there (OBF has 84 beers by comparison).  I’m too lazy to parse it out, but at a glance I would say that clearly more than half were international.  Furthermore, even though the only Polish beer was Black Boss and some less-than-rare beers like Bitburger Pils were among the offerings, most of the internationals were indeed interesting.  US beer offerings also seemed pretty good from what I saw, but I stuck to internationals since I was at Portland INTERNATIONAL Beerfest. 

Also, it was a very nice atmosphere.  The North Park Blocks where it is held provided a nice shady, green area.  IBF was less of the dirt and hot tents and “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” of OBF.  I went from about 12:30 to 5:00 on a Satuday, so to be fair I can’t compare it to my usual Friday evening and later Saturday OBF visits (though even Saturday afternoon can get crazy at OBF).  It was not jam-packed and super-noisy, but it was very busy.  Still, though, the lines were almost always short.

Yes, there are some expensive pours, but there are some damn expensive beers there!  I had no idea how many beers on offer were off-the-shelf bottles that they just buy in mass quantity and keep on ice.  And there are a large number of 1-ticket pours. I stuck with interesting 1- and 2-ticket pours first, but then moved on to a few 3-ticket and maybe even one or two 4-ticket beers, just because there were some really interesting and unique ones I wanted to try.  It’s nice, for example, to be able to compare and contrast a number of good Belgian beers without having to commit to buying all those expensive bottles!

Courtesy portland-beerfest.com

One final note on the price: PIB “is a fundraiser for PET CROSS”, so part of those ticket prices goes to a good cause.  What’s better than drinking beer?  Drinking beer… FOR PUPPIES AND KITTIES!!

So all-in-all, if you’re like me and have not bothered to try IBF “just because”, I encourage you to give it a shot next year.  Is attending YET ANOTHER good beer event in the Portland area going to kill you?

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