The 29th annual Oregon Brewers Festival kicked off yesterday and we were there to drink all the beers. Well, not all beers... but between myself, Doug, and Brian, we managed to try 33 of the 88 domestic beers that were available on Wednesday night. Not too shabby!
Here's what you should be sure to try and what you shouldn't waste your tokens on- plus some novelty beers that were interesting enough to take a chance on.
There seemed to be more tart/sour beers this year than ever before. Two that really nailed their styles were Aslan Brewing’s Disco Lemonade and Stone Brewing’s Gose Gose Gadget. Aslan came down from Bellingham for their first OBF and brought this Berliner-Weisse that’s tart, full of lemons, and aggressively sparkly. Stone’s Gose has a similar taste but a little more complexity with its flavors.
The longest line was for pFriem’s Mango Sour. While not our favorite beer
that pFriem has ever made, it’s worth the 5 min wait for this light and
refreshing summer sour.
A few rye beers cracked our top 5 list for the fest as well. Make sure to check out both Payette’s 8 Second Rye’d and the Collaborator We’d Rye’d Like Kings. Both surprised us with their ability to take what is typically a heavier malt beer and lighten it up with tropical flavors that created great balance and unique aromas.
A few others to not miss:
- Bayern Brewing Citra Charged Dump Truck
- 54° 40’ Brewing 70% Ultra Pilsner
- Culmination Deutschland-Down Under
- Flying Fish Brewing Love Fish
- Pelican Chongie Saaz
Doug and I drive out to Astoria every few months just to have a few beers (and amazing oysters!) at Buoy Brewing. The view in the taproom is great and their ability to make clean, perfect-to-style beers has always been impressive. However, Buoy finally managed something no other brewery has ever done in the 8 OBFs we have attended: they made a beer bad enough to dump the 4 ounce taste. Their Dragon Weiss was just not good. The dragon fruit taste was lost because of all the off flavors (beer nerds: so much diacetyl flavor). Sad face.
All Trend, No Substance
Boulder Beer’s Pulp Fusion Blood Orange IPA was another one we found strange. We didn’t hate it but it was… confusing. Our tasting notes simply read “I don’t get it.” It was neither hoppy enough to make it a good IPA nor fruity enough to make it a decent fruit beer. Pass.
Weird, But Worth It
A Twist on a Classic Combo
Out of pure curiosity, Doug tried Zoiglhaus Brewing’s Birra Pazza al Pesto. It was… something. A wheat beer infused with pine nuts, parmesan, basil, garlic, and olive oil, then ‘dry-hopped’ with basil, it is what it claims to be: pizza in a glass. I can’t say that I loved it but I can’t say it was bad. You definitely can smell the basil and very subtly a hint of garlic but only the slight tang of olive oil and basil comes through in the taste. It’s confusing that a brewery so heavily influenced by German brewing and culture would make a pesto pizza beer, but they did and you should try it cause it’s definitely unique.
Lakeland Brewing’s Lipstick on a Pig was the group's most polarizing beer. Doug thought it was delicious with its "subtle strawberry backbone and hint of basil, rounded out with the spiciness created by Saaz hops". I wasn’t so sure. It’s creative and not for everyone, but worth checking out.
All in all, the lineup of beers isn’t as strong as it has been in past years (I mean, Breakside’s entry last year, Rainbows and Unicorns, was so good it became a year-round beer for them and a must-order for me every time I see it), but OBF still a party a beer lover shouldn’t miss. The weather is only going to get hotter throughout the week, so make sure to stay hydrated. Cheers!