30 July 2006

Oregon Brewers Festval 2006 - Saturday Report

So this year was my 3rd trip to the Oregon Brewers Festival, and I tried so many beers so quickly that I actually got myself rather drunk. Of course, I knew I was hella buzzed in the early going - probably after my 4th or 5th sample - but I didn't do anything about it. I was in such a hurry to try all the beers on my list that I wasn't really pacing myself or drinking any water or anything in between. Not smart. But I had a great time anyway, and had some really great beers with great friends.

We met up with our friends Rick & Brandi at the 181st Ave MAX stop and took the train the rest of the way in to the festival. We were there probably 10 minutes before they started serving beer (noon), so I was able to go over my list and figure out where everything was while Rebecca bought us our tokens. We ran into some other friends there and I started in on my list. It was a great day, not too hot at all, and we had a grand time sampling and talking and hanging out. We'd been there a while when I got a text message from our pals Ryan & Kelly that they were finally in line, so we hooked up with them for a bit and tried a few more beers. After a while, we decided we needed to head home so we had some time to chill and get ready for the BBQ that Rick & Brandi were having over at their place. I ended up missing most of the BBQ because I crashed hard when I got home.

Anyway, on to the beer. There were a lot of re-runs from years past, but I made sure to hit up the Fearless tap to get a full mug of their scottish ale. In alphabetical order, here's what I/we had, based on my poorly-written notes and now-hazy recollections (favorites highlighted):

21st Amendment Brewery, SF, CA: Watermelon Wheat - This was a re-run, and I skipped it. Rebecca says it was as good as she remembered, which I think was just 'okay'.

Anacortes Brewery, Anacortes, WA: Anacortes Hefeweizen - I had a sip of this from Rebecca's mug. She says it's not as good as Pyramid's. I agree. So of course Widmer's is better, too.

Bell's Brewery, Galesburg MI: Bell's Hell Hath No Fury... Ale - Wow. This was listed as a Belgian Style Dark Strong Ale, and they damn sure got the dark and strong right. Full-bodied, fairly sweet, and with obvious chocolaty/spicy/fruity goodness. Very complex ale, almost like they were trying to do too much with it, but I liked it a lot anyway.

Big Sky Brewing, Missoula, MT: Summer Honey Ale -
Very good summer brew. Light, a touch sweet, crisp finish. Seemed like there was some orangey taste to it as well. I liked it, and Rebecca gave it two thumbs up.

Boulder Beer Co., Boulder, CO: Sweaty Betty Blonde Wheat -
Smelled like meat, tasted like feet. That's all I have to say about that.

Dick's Brewing Co., Centralia, WA: Dick's Best Bitter - Pretty good ESB. I'm not a huge fan of the style, but I liked this one. Pretty balanced ale.

Elysian Brewing Co., Seattle, WA: Bifrost Winter Ale - Not what I think of when I think winter ale. Too hoppy/bitter for me to consider it a winter ale. Tasted more like an IPA to me.

Fearless Brewing Co., Estacada, OR: Fearless Scottish Ale - A re-run that I made a point to go back for last. Had to finish on a high note. This is an outstanding scottish ale, strong, malty, full-bodied. I had a full mug. My top pick of the festival, but it barely edged out the Hell Hath No Fury (above, from Bell's) and the White Lightning Whiskey Stout from McMenamins Concordia Brewery (below). Just barely.

Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ: 10th Anniversary Farmhouse Summer Ale -
This wasn't originally on my list, but I figured I should try something light and summery. I'm glad I did. Light in color, medium-bodied, this is a tasty light summer ale. Not overly hopped, so I liked it a lot.

Golden Valley Brewery, McMinnville, OR: Angus Springs Organic Brown Ale - I like my brown ales a little less hoppy, but this was a pretty tasty one. I could taste the coffee notes from the malts, and the herbal-ness of the hops. I'd probably order this if I went to their restaurant.

Hale's Ales, Seattle, WA: Hale's Red Menace Amber Ale - Smooth amber ale, a little hoppy for my tastes, though.

Jack Russell Brewing Co, Camino, CA: Farmhouse Ale - Another one that wasn't on my original list, but after reading the description in the program, I had to try it. I liked it a lot. Golden colored, light and refreshing with medium body. Very 'grainy' in that it was almost like drinking a mix of Wheaties, Cheerios, and Corn Chex. Okay, so if you don't like those cereals, forget it. Finished smooth.

Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI: Lavaman Red Ale -
Full-bodied red ale, good color, flavorful. Started out with a faintly sweet malty-ness, and ended with a kind of dry finish. I liked it.

Lagunitas, Petaluma, CA: Sirius Ale - Rebecca tried this one, I skipped it. Listed as an Imperial Cream Ale. She says it was good, but a little bitter.

Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, CA: Great White - Good Belgian white ale, not particularly remarkable.

MacTarnahan's, Portland, OR: Oregon Honeybeer Ale -
Rebecca tried this one. Couldn't really taste the honey at all, she says.

McMenamins Concordia Brewery, Portland, OR: White Lightning Whiskey Stout -
Awesome. Very strong stout, noticeable coffee malt, vanilla and chocolate tones, very very smooth and full-bodied, roasty good finish. Loved this one.

North Coast Brewing Co, Fort Bragg, CA: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - At 75 IBU, I'd have run for the hills, but it wasn't nearly as bitter as that number would indicate. I think the malts balanced that out, as did the alcohol, tipping the scales at almost 9%. Pretty good stout, with some roasty kind of mocha-y goodness.

Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub, Portland, OR: Raspberry Wheat - I think we had this one last year. Rebecca had some again, she liked it. I skipped it, but if I remember correctly from last year, it's a pretty good fruity wheat beer.

Rock Bottom Brewery, Portland, OR: Ned Flanders Red Ale - Of course, I had to try a cleverly-named brew, and the Simpsons reference simply mandated a taste. Weird stuff. Really fruity tones, strong and started a little sweet, finished kinda sour.

Rogue Ales, Newport, OR: Brewer -
I thought I'd like it, as it was listed as a strong ale, but I didn't. Too hoppy/bitter for as dark as it looked. I was expecting something a little more malty, I guess. I dunno, it just kinda missed.

Roosters 25th Street Brewing Co., Ogden, UT: Diamondback Ale - Yeah, that's right, Utah. And you'd think it'd be pretty weak and kinda lame, but it was pretty good. Listed as a British Mild, it tasted like an amber ale, and was very malty and smooth. Wasn't on my original list, but I liked it.

Sprecher Brewing Co., Glendale, WI: Mai Bock - This was pretty good. Not as sweet and honey-toned as the Will-Bräu Mai Bock I raved about recently, but very tasty and light. Good summer beer. I managed to chat with some of the folks from Sprecher, quite by accident. Don't know if I'll ever end up in Wisconsin for any reason, but if I do, I'm going to try their other stuff. Nice folks, nice beer. They do a lot of 'old-world' styles, and adhere to the Reinheitsgebot (German beer purity laws). Cool.

Steelhead Brewing Co., Eugene, OR: Raging Rhino Red Ale -
Better than your average amber/red. This reminded me a little of Widmer's Drop Top amber, but falls just short in my opinion. Seemed pretty balanced, though.

There were a handful of beers that were on my list, and I either skipped them because I was getting too drunk, or because I read the description (specifically, the IBU) and said 'no thanks'. Here they are:

Water Street Brewing, Port Townsend, WA: Big Phatty Imperial Red -
I was bummed about missing out on this one last year. I was about to go try it when I read the IBU was 100. Holy crap! Run for your lives! Or, hopheads rejoice!

Roots Organic Brewing, Portland, OR: Belgian Wit Bier - I think I was probably getting too buzzed. Probably also figured I could just go try it from the source.

Big Horn Brewing Co., Salem, OR: Big Horn Hefeweizen - I have no idea why I skipped this one. It sounds like a winner, being a Bavarian-style hef, which I would have been very curious to try, having had plenty of those in Germany in the early '90s. Probably was too intent on going after that full mug of Fearless' scottish ale. Maybe have to go hit the Ram in Lake Oswego and try some.

Boulevard Brewing Co., KC, MO: Zon
- Overheard somebody saying it sucked. Didn't want to waste a token, in case they were right.

All in all, it was a good festival. I just wish I'd paced myself. I was really feeling it on the MAX ride home, and hated to miss the bulk of Rick & Brandi's BBQ. Rebecca did come back for me and we hung out and chatted, then played some Texas Hold 'Em.

Today, I felt pretty good, and we ran some errands and started doing some laundry. Rick called and asked if I could come play softball this afternoon with the McGillacuddy's team he's on. I of course said yes, and headed on over to Delta Park. It was their final game, and they were short on people, so I was happy to help out as I'd done earlier in the season. Except for a brief brain-cramp on where to throw the ball after a chopper got through the infield, I had a decent day defensively in right field. At the plate, I went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly, 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. My last at-bat was a liner to short that would have gone for a base hit if I'd just hit it about a foot higher. Oh well. We won, so that's the important thing.
We went to McGillacuddy's after the game, and the coach of the team and a few other of the regular players said they'd like to have me on the team full-time next season. That was nice to hear, and I'm looking forward to it.


Jeff Alworth said...

Wow, you tried 57 beers and only three of the ones I tried--amazing. I totally agree with the Bell's. I had it late in the day, and thought it was delightful. However, I liked the Bifrost quite a bit (different strokes), and my pour of Farmhouse Ale was nasty. I wonder if mine came from a bad batch--I was there on Friday.

I still can't believe how few beers in common we tried.

Ghost Dog said...

That is pretty weird.

You're probably a fan of IPAs, where as I run the opposite direction, generally speaking. That might explain it, perhaps...

Jeff Alworth said...

I am a fan of IPAs--love me the hops. But pretty much I'm a fan of all beers. My real love is with the Belgians, and so I was looking forward to this Farmhouse. Ah well

Anonymous said...

I'm so bummed I missed out on the brewers festival. Sounds like you had a hell of a time. It seems like you and I have pretty similar tastes as I tend to stray away from the IPAs as well. I loves me some dark beer and if you're dreaming about a pitcher of Hazelnut Brown Nectar too then I'll definitely consider your comments on my next beer run.

Thanks for reading my blog too. I appreciate all the comments.
-Bob Woodshed

Ghost Dog said...

Hey, thanks for dropping by, BW.