Benfest 2017

In the Portland brewing scene, there are a lot of brewers with the surname Ben and….well any excuse to throw a party, right? Thus: Benfest-a festival with beers mostly made by people named Ben, or in honor of, as this year also saw the passing of Ben Flerchinger, a loved local brewer and part of the proceeds went to his family to help with the expenses of death.

Sigh. Sorry, folks. Looks like it’s going to a week with more downer feelings than usual.

Here’s the mildly edited notes!

Gigantic Benmosa; grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple. I’m not sure this is even beer, so much as a fruit drink that might have alcohol in it. Even the bitterness on the finish is heavily reminiscent of the pith of grapefruit. I don’t think it’s for me-that pith note isn’t something that I like. But it’s definitely what it says it is! And if you like mimosas, you should give this a go.

Breakside First Blanche; witber. This beer feels soft on my palate. Almost like a hug. It’s also very straightforward; little wheat malt in the nose, a dollop of tartness on the finish. I’m more into this one.
Gigantic/Sasquach collab, Been There Freshed That; fresh hop pale. Smells like band aid. Tastes similar. Pass.
36776416740_a04d66a981_cCoin Toss Benvention; Imperial mild. Milds are very difficult for me to tell you about. Like brown ales, their strength is in their forgettable qualities. There’s just enough malt happening here that I have something to chew on. It’s 5.2% ABV, which I don’t object to, but why not just call this an ESB? Probably because I don’t know enough about styles to say. But sit me down with a pitcher of this and a plate of nachos and I’m a happy camper.
Lucky Lab Benedict Palmer; lager with lemon and ice tea. Nose of sulphur. That makes my face wrinkle. There’s a corn note after that and this doesn’t unwrinkle me. The flavor has some corn and lemon in there, but they do not mesh well.
Three Creeks Stampede Strong ale; American strong. I cannot pick up anything on the nose to save my life. However the beer hits my tongue softly, gives me a nice roasted flavor, followed up by some sweetness. The Stampede also has a pleasant heft to it; the beer might hit the tongue softly but it rolls around with a little weight. That sets up the finishing hop bitterness and just a tiny pop of effervescence to end. The Stampede Strong makes me want to sit with some buttered popcorn in a movie theater. I feel like that would be a great environment with a pretty nice salty offset to the beer.
Laurelwood Ben There Done That; Kolsh. OK, so my current stance is: Old Town’s Kolsch > everyone else’s, which is why I wanted to give Laurelwood’s offering a shot.
Old Town is still safe. The nose on this Kolsch has that lager old hop nose that isn’t so awesome. However, after that? There’s a really pleasant beer to drink. It’s sweet, with a nice rounding effervescent pop around the sides of my tongue that I’m enjoying. It’s definitely solid, even if it doesn’t take the crown.
Deschutes BlENded; saison. Now this is a nose that pops up like a jack in the box. Spicey, a little funk and a little fruit in there. This beer is…a touch unusual. Mostly saison. That is: wheat malt, Belgian yeast spice note, but the finish is fruity and sparkly, like grapefruit champagne. I find this beer really interesting and very quaffable. Have at it.
36776417350_697553de95_cGigantic Macallan Barrel aged barleywine, pic. Oooooo boy. This is basically alcoholic, unsulfured molasses. Brown sugar syrup that will give you a buzz. It is REALLY good. It is also a beer to have one of, and a small pour at that, because at 15% it’s more dominating than Michael Jordan.

54-40 Half Cocked; IPA in the cask with Citra hops. The nose is ALL Citra, with sweet orange and lemon scents. There’s also just a little nudge of cut grass in there, too. The beer itself: solid. the nose is amazing, the liquid is very good but I almost want a more carbonated version so that it finished with some pop. However, the body of the beer has a solid malt adding a nice sweetness and hint of grain before the hop bitterness, which isn’t very intense at all, sweeps in to round it all out.

Ecliptic Benith; Grapefruit Gose. Wow, this nose is just a nice confluence of sour and salt and fruit. My first sip has me exclaim because of its tartness in comparison to all the other beers I have had today. That isn’t to suggest it’s bad, though. Just the opposite; the tartness is on point and the finish is dry like white wine. The contrast that this beer provides from the other styles here is more than welcome and I have to say, this might be the first Ecliptic beer I can endorse.
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