They're expecting great weather for this year's OBF...sunny with temps in the low to mid 80s is what I'm seeing and hearing. It doesn't get a whole lot better. One of the great things about having a big outdoor event in Portland this time of year is the weather almost always cooperates. Anyone feel like a beer?
Prep to Fest
Festival posters are up at breweries, pubs and other beer-centric locations around town. They advertise 125+ craft beers. Please realize, the 125 includes beers that will be featured in the Buzz Tent and Sour Tent (new this year). Something like 82 beers will be poured from taps in front of the big tents everyone is familiar with.
Just to be clear, no one knows what the Buzz and Sour Tents will be pouring. Actually, at least one person does know...that person being Preston Weesner, the OBF's maestro of beer. He's not saying anything about the beers because he knows he doesn't have to. There's no pre-festival program for the Buzz or Sour Tents and it's arguably better that way because these beers usually don't last very long. A lot of us will report what we find on Thursday, but that's no guarantee the same beers will be around for Friday or the weekend. In the end, you'll get what you get in these tents.
Putting together a tentative tasting list is tough...too many great choices. I have to admit the Buzz and Sour Tent beers play into my thinking. Why? Because I know will be trying quite a few of those high octane gems. So the list of standard beers I plan to taste leans in the direction of lower ABV beers. If you recall, the average ABV this year is 6.2%, which is lower than usual. I'm pretty sure that number doesn't include the Buzz or Sour Tent beers. In any case, there are plenty of beers to choose from in the 4-5.5% ABV category.
|Get ready for sunshine and great beer!|
Below is a short list of beers I hope to run into at the festival. I haven't tasted any of the these before, to my knowledge, and that's part of why I chose them. I'm listing them in no particular order because I know that's how I'll find them. Most of the descriptions are taken from the media program, with slight editing.
Huckleberry Hound IPA 6.5% ABV, 55 IBU
Alameda Brewing, Portland
Tropical Blonde 5.1% ABV, 15 IBU
Vertigo Brewing, Hillsboro
Key Lime juice is said to give this beer a unique, sweet citrus taste. The medium-strength beer was brewed from Gambrinus 2-Row pale, Rahr wheat,
10 and Cara Foam malts with flaked barley in the grist. Noble Czech Saaz hops
bitter the wort, with added at 15 and 30
minutes before knockout for flavor and aroma. Sounds interesting. Mt.
Raspberry Crush 5.2% ABV, 4 IBU
10 Barrel Brewing, Bend
Acidulated white wheat, raspberries and an inoculation of lactobacillus in the fermenter. Low hop levels let the special sour flavors dominate, and rice syrup helps yield a light finish and body.
Oregon Strawberry Honey Ale 5.3% ABV, 15 IBU
Mt. Emily Ale House, La Grande
Organic strawberries and organic honey add special sweetness, but also an exceptionally dry finish to this all-organic brew. A simple grain bill of organic 2-Row malt provides the wort, bittered and flavored by an early and a late addition of organic Cascade hops.
|This scene from 2005 will soon be repeated|
Kellerbier 4.9% ABV, 25 IBU
Occidental Brewing, Portland
Occidental produces a terrific line of German-style beers. Kellerbier, also known as Zwickelbier, is unfiltered and unpasteurized. Pilsen and Carapils malt form the simple grist bill, while the wort is moderately bittered with Tettnanger hops for a slightly spicy flavor and aroma. Budvar yeast strain yields a malty nose with subtle fruit tones. The yeast held in suspension makes it naturally cloudy. It's full of vitamins, they say.
Pineapple Express 5.7% ABV, 7 IBU
Collaborator is one of the oldest collaborations in the nation between a craft brewer (Widmer Brothers) and homebrewers (the Oregon Brew Crew). Pineapple Express is the latest in the Collaborator series. Pineapple added to the secondary fermenter adds a fruity sweetness as well as the flavor and aroma of the fruit, while leaving the acidity and bitterness behind. 2-Row,
wheat malts are supplemented by corn sugar for a light-bodied sweet beer that's
Cherried Alive 7.8% ABV, 19 IBU
Old Market Pub & Brewery, Portland
They added 700 pounds of
organic sweet and tart cherries to the secondary fermenter, on top of a
five-grain malt bill. It wasn't enough to satisfy Old Market brewers. So they aged much of the brew in Pinot Noir oak
barrels with an additional 900 pounds of cherries. Wow!
They added 700 pounds of
Peach Trippel 8.2% ABV, 20 IBU
Redhook, Woodinville, WA
They added a half-ton of real fruit peach puree to make 35 barrels of this beer, which makes its debut at the Festival. A four-step mash process on 2-Row, wheat,
Cara-20 malts produced a sweet wort, supplemented with dextrose and Candi sugar
in the boil. A gentle dose of Northern Brewer and Saaz hops creates a light but
slightly sweet beer with low bitterness to accentuate the aroma and flavor of
OBF Fusion Secret ABV, Secret IBU
Lagunitas, Petaluma, CA
Lagunutas may have the best sense of humor in the brewing industry. This is a special beer for the OBF. Conceived by
Oregon beer lovers, then
brewed in Petaluma
by Oregonians with a recipe so secret, even the brewers don't know it. The program claims they
overcome the risk of brewing blindfolded by hiring seeing-eye dogs to do all of
the heavy lifting. Alrighty, dudes.
Berry White 5% ABV, 13 IBU
Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Happy Valley
The program says once you taste this beer, you may find yourself singing in a low baritone about how you can't get enough of it. Start with pale malt, malted and unmalted wheat, acidulated malt and flaked oats. A light hand with Vanguard hops provides just enough bitterness to take off the sweet edge. Raspberries added to secondary fermentation and the brite tank finish the beer with a tart, tangy berry flavor.
IPA is the most popular craft style nationwide at the moment, and I'm positive there will be some hopheads at the OBF. These are a few hoppy highlights.
Sculpin IPA 6.6% ABV 70 IBU
Ballast Point, San Diego
Seven different hops added several times to the boil, as well as to the knock-out and in the fermenter. Northern Brewer, German Tradition,
Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe give it not only a bracing bitterness, but a rich, hop flavor.
Tan Line Summer IPA 5.2% ABV 82 IBU
Fire Mountain Brewing, Carlton, OR
This has the look of a hop bomb. Centennial and Saaz hops go into the kettle on a secret schedule, but rumor has it they don't stop once they start. Pilsner and light caramel malts provide the grain base to carry all that hop bitterness. Dry English Ale yeast supposedly leaves some malt flavor behind to balance the hops.
IPA Chronicle: FL-Oregon Trail 7.5% ABV No IBU listed
Double Hopped Double IPA 7.8% ABV, 85 IBU
Terminal Gravity Brewing, Enterprise
This is a collaboration with Double Mountain Brewery. Wallowa Mountain water extracts its malty sweetness (and yeast food) from Belgian Biscuit, Maris Otter and high-color U.S. pale 2-Row malts. Chinook, Styrian Goldings and experimental HBC342 hops are added into the boil, with the Goldings and HBC342s also added in the fermenter for an extra snappy hop flavor.
Dynomite! 8.9% ABV, 90 IBU
Gigantic Brewing, Portland
An Imperial IPA with "Gigantic amounts of hops, malt, alcohol and flavor," says the program. A little bit of
Crystal malt is added to lots of base 2-Row
pale and as many hops as they could find - especially in the hopback, to make
sure you can taste hops in the finish. Another hop bomb!
I'll be festing Thursday through Saturday. Thursday will be mostly focused on keeping track of what I taste and what I like. I'll post some findings on Friday. I hope to see you there. Cheers!