Category Archives: Festivals

Festival of the Dark Arts 2023

I had the great fortune to go to the Festival of the Dark Arts this year and while I was there, I figured: Hey, let’s review some beers. So here we go! (Note: taking notes at a fest is hard and I apologize for any errors. I did my best to get the details I could but crowds and no internet access limited what I could do. )

Also, we can assume that unless I specifically note otherwise, the base style for every beer is a stout.

7 Devils-Symbiotic Fig stout on a bench outside

Symbiotic Fig stout from 7 Devils (Pictured)
Not a real impressive start. Heavy coffee astringency on the finish that really overwrites everything else this beer might be trying to do.

Threshold brewing- Salted caramel
Nose is very intense-milk caramel in big doses. And it pays of: this tastes like a chocolate caramel candy bar with a sprinkle of salt on it. Fantastic.

Foreland brewing-cast shadow barrel aged vanilla
This has a little bit of wood on the finish that I enjoy. It’s smooth, but the finish on the end definitely isn’t for everyone. It works for me but there isn’t a strong vanilla quality either, which is a surprise.

Ferment brewing-Ortiz stout (not sure I got the name right)
There’s a touch of anise in the nose and it follows later-so there’s a thread of black licorice going through this one. I’m not the biggest fan for that flavor so it’s not for me-but it is absolutely for someone.

Our Mutual Friend brewing-Vanilla Thrabenoid
This is a vanilla beer. Personally, I can get behind that, especially considering everything else I’ve had today. It definitely distinguishes itself. It stops short of marshmallow sweetness but just barely.

Hybrid Theory-Ft George brewing/Rev Nat's cider collab on a table inside the cidery.

Ft George/Rev Nat’s Hybrid Theory-Cider/Stout combo (pictured)
A friend immediately described this beer as a chocolate apple pie. I can’t do better than that. It’s delightful.

Ravenna brewing-stout aged in tequila barrels
I get some of the tequila but then I am hit with spice-jabenero style. And I HATE that. Beer: not bad. Description: terrible.

Trap Door brewing-Interority
This has a little alcohol burn on the finish-but at 14%, what could one expect? Still it’s a warm kind of beverage, not an overheated or unpleasant beer. It’s got enough chocolate to keep the beer in shape.

Double Mountain brewing- Magera Rum aged
The nose is faint in its chocolate impressions, and my f8irst taste impression was that it was a little thin. However, the coffee notes and nudge of rum on the finish made this all come together. The sum greater than the parts.

That’s just a smattering of what was available, too. There were a total of 85 different beverages available, three stages for music, and multiple food vendors. It really felt like a great block party, more than a beer festival. I think I’d like to try this again next year!

A First Time Repeat

The Oregon Brewer’s Fest is being cancelled again this year and I really have to wonder if this is the end.

The festival only brought in a little over 23,000 people last year, compared to the heyday of over 85,000. Part of what kept people away? Temperatures over 100 degrees.

Climate crisis is a real thing. The pandemic is a real thing. Really wish I didn’t have to see more things collapse before people started behaving like this was the case. But I all but guarantee that this story is going to be seen again and again.

Nanofest 2023

Moonshrimp brewing's cold IPA in glass outside on table

Moonshrimp’s Cold IPA- this is is solid IPA! I know it’s not a 1-1 but it has a pleasant hop nose, and the finishing bitterness is very low key. I’d almost call it more a pale. But I dig.

Belica Brau’s Vienna lager- A very. nice, crisp beer that went well with my burger.

Barn Door’s Cranberry Kolsch-possibly the most interesting beer I’ve had so far. The cranberry is in the nose but it isn’t a too tart, offputting thing. Then the first sip had the fruit, but then goes into the malt, a real treat of a beer!

Slow Drift’s Fishing in the Dark Chocolate coffee porter-this is a beer with some nice chocolate notes in the nose but the finish is just so astringent from the coffee that I can’t enjoy it. It’s sharp and a little dirty.

Boring Brewing-Weihnacht in a glass on a table outside

Boring brewing’s Weihnacht- this one is hard for me to get a grip on. The malt is very forward, and it takes me a little help to figure out what’s going on. There’s almost a root beer caramel quality and it’s winning for me. But it’s not overly sweet, either; this beer stays drinkable.

Unicorn brewing’s Czech dark lager-the chocolate element in the nose is muted and there isn’t much midrange before a cocoa powder finish kicks in. It’s got a very drying feel, almost like white wine. I think someone else might really appreciate it, but I don’t think it’s for me.

Moonshrimp’s Gose-this is quite good: an an excellent beer to have around now. High contrast to the rest of the flavors I’ve had, with a pleasant herbal note from the hibiscus as well as a tart quality to start, with a hit of sweetness on the finish. I am enjoying it!

Integrity brewing-Paint it Black porter, in a glass on a table outside

Integrity brewing’s Paint it Black porter-there is a chocolate cake smell coming off this one. This is a great balance to the mild astringency on the finish There’s a coffee quality for sure, but it isn’t so intense that I don’t want more of the beer. It’s pleasant to drink and encourages seconds.

Crooked Creek’s Vienna Lager- what an easy drinking beer. It’s a classic and I mean that in the best way: you get exactly what you’re hoping for. Impressive, quaffable, worth your time.

There were only a few beers I didn’t try: the CDA from Labyrinth, because I’m not a fan of the style and didn’t think I could judge it fairly. The Scottish ale from 13th Moon, because my friend had it and it tasted like butterscotch. The Mutanis Cold IPA because I just overlooked it, and lastly Mad Cow’s Pumpkin Pie Cream ale. That one is one my friend had and it tasted like pumpkin shaving cream ale.

All in all though, these were solid-to-very good beers! The nano crew came out to represent and there’s some exciting brews in the works here.


Here I am, about to serve beer at the Portland Craft Beer Fest on July 3rd. It was a long day, though not a bad one. But we were dealing with taps that produced a lot of foam, and were understaffed due to a miscommunication that brought volunteers than we should have had.

Not a bad day, overall-except for one woman who pitched a fit about not being able to drink enough beer in the 40 minutes she was there for.

That said, there are a few things that you, as a festival goer, could do to make this better for everyone.

Wear a freakin’ mask. We are back up to ‘wear one indoors‘ and yes, I know I’m outside but also: I’m surrounded by people. Let’s keep each other safe.

Have your ticket ready. There’s probably a line you are standing in for your beer. The ticket is how you pay for beer. If I have to wait for you to pull the ticket out of your pocket or purse or wherever, and then I have to wait for you to tear the ticket away from the booklet you got, well that’s just more time that we allllllll have to wait, and you don’t get a beer.

This is especially true if you’ve brought your dog. Glad the pooch is on a leash, neat that you can bring the animal to the fest BUT trying to get your ticket out at the counter AND manage your dog is a delay that everyone has to experience now.

Be specific about what you want. I know that you can easily see what I’m pouring but I only have the name of the beer-not the style, not the brewery. Which means when you ask for “the IPA” and I am attending to six taps which include at least two IPAs, I am confused.

Remember that we aren’t trying to fuck you out of beer, and are pouring our best. But the rules are: once you have the glass, that’s it. Coming back and asking us for a top off isn’t a thing, even if you get a bunch of foam. It especially isn’t a thing when you stick your fingers in the glass and scoop foam out, in an attempt to prove whatever point you want to make. (Yup, we saw this.) Try waiting a couple minutes-the foam will become beer again, I promise.

Very Cool

It looks like Fresh Fest was a success!

(You can read about Fresh Fest from my post a last week, but the new article does a great job of recounting it as well).

I hope this helps raise the profile of brewers of color and the contributions they make to the industry. Why?

I can’t say it any better than the people from the article:

“The more diversity, the more minds, the better the industry is and the better that culture becomes,”

Fresh Fest

There is, for me, a lot to unpack in this article about Fresh Fest, which is the first festival to highlight breweries owned by African-Americans.

Now, I don’t feel qualified to comment on the difficulties that a person of color might have getting into the brewing industry, nor am I qualified to speak to the cultural forces that want to insist that people of color (and, for me, by extension, poor people) merely want cheap things. (I don’t think they do).

But I believe that reading and listening to the experience of those people is important and I absolutely believe that beer-or any food, really- should be for everyone. We all have to eat and it’s generally better when we eat together.

Oregon Brewer’s Fest 2018

This is a brief summary of beers I had at the OBF this year! I did this quickly, so any errors are mine and, given the heat this year, I think it’s worth taking into consideration the affect that the heat might’ve had on these beers, especially when coming from more reliable breweries. That said, I stand by my experiences and I hope this is a helpful guide!

Fremont– Limeshine: Hm…Not much nose to speak of but the flavor profile…is a bit detergenty. This is not a great start.

3 Mugs Honey AleThree Mugs– Passion of the Honey: the nose alone makes me happy. A little bit of guava, clover and honeysuckle makes for a great first impression. The beer is light and drinkable as all get out. I would happily drink a full pint and then another.

Hopworks- Completely Excellent: faint nose, just a little floral. It took me a few sips to really try and work through it, but the finish on this beer is just too harsh. There’s nothing sweet or balancing here, and the end feels unpleasant as a result.

New Holland– I like Pretzel Day: this has a sweet nose, maple right in front. It’s a bit like drinking a thin maple syrup. Now, either this is appealing to you or it isn’t. I’m ok with it, especially at this volume, but a full pour might be much.

Wedlandt– Perro del Mar: the nose goes caramel on me and not in a pleasant way: the sweetness is cloying. But if I don’t sniff at it, what I’ve got is a reasonably drinkable IPA. It’s not special but I don’t hate it.

Auga Mala– Sirena: a little bit of corn in the nose but not sickly or sweet. The beer itself is quite clean and I’d probably have more. But it’s a little forgettable in the way that many pilsners can be.

Transpeninsular– Playitas Cali Pale: the nose has a touch of vegetal and the beer follows up with that. So at least it’s consistent. But, no.

Oproer– Refuse/Resist: this is a very solid IPA. It has arrived at just the right time: after a few beers that just didn’t leave a strong impression, this tasted nice.

Gilgamesh– CBD Pale ale: Oh, this is a really solid pale. Gently pushing the tropical fruit, maybe kiwi? But really pleasant. Easy to drink, not too bitter, all around drinkable. I’d have another.

Aside: There are a lot of people wearing Star Wars shirts here. And not new Star Wars: Old school, 1977 poster Star Wars. It’s been the most common thing I’ve seen today, aside from festival shirts.

Zoiglhaus Elderberry Berliner WeissZoiglhaus– Elderberry Berliner Weisse: It has an elderberry scent along with that fruit soured ale element in the nose . And it tastes a bit Ike a sweet tart. It’s light and pops lively off the tongue. If you like the style, check it out. If you don’t, sample someone else’s, as it’s worth a taste.

54 40– Rick & Mortmunder: I was a little nervous because this had a sourdough nose, just like one of my favorite Kolsch ales and being as good as that beere is a high bar to reach. Thankfully, this beer does just fine. It’s sweeter on the front, the finish is really clean, it’s just a delicious beer. I’d recommend this to anyone. Drink it.

Lompoc– It’s Full Of Stars: There’s no nose, there’s no middle. It also tastes dirty on the finish.

Monkless– peppercorn imperial wit: the nose-and the flavors-don’t really push any peppercorn that I can discern. However, it’s a decent wit ale; a little clove in the nose, some banana in the flavors but nothing overwhelming. All in all, I enjoy it-but I think that if this beer was a little warmer, it would suffer greatly. There’s a shadow of an off flavor there, but it’s buried for now. A warmer beer probably wouldn’t cover it.

Gigantic Magnificent 527Gigantic– Magnificent 527: this has some pine in the nose, and that is the thread that ties it together. There’s a touch of malt and some pineapple notes but here’s a nice beer here and I hope they get to use this hop more.

Boneyard– Pinot Pulp: the nose is very reflective of the Pinot barrels they aged this in. And it’s got that light, white wine, citrus flavor, while finishing really cleanly. Maybe not for everyone but definitely worth tasting and I enjoyed it.

Binary– All Fugged Up: this has a malt forward nose and…that’s what the beer is. The hops don’t make much of an appearance that I can pull away from. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, rather, just one dimensional. Maybe better when it’s served colder, maybe better when I can sit an relax with it.

And that’s what I had!

But what I also am including as recommendations, based off of what I heard other people say they liked.

Terminal Gravity‘s Summer Honey
Heathen‘s Raspberry Rhubarb Sour
Riverbend‘s We Found Barb In The Strawberry Field
Rusty Truck‘s Sugar Shack Brown Ale
Caldera‘s Coco-Nutty Blonde

Oregon Brewer’s Fest 2018

Here we go again!

As always, I want to encourage people who are attending to use public transport to get to and from, and the website also says that they will have coupons for $5 Lyft rides home. Very, very cool.

The beer list is, as always, leaning in favor of IPAs but I’m pleased to see a strong selection of styles that highlight beer good for summer, without sacrificing some people’s desire for stouts, ambers or anything else.

I’m especially looking forward to the breweries from Baja, Mexico, to see what their beer culture brings to the table! I’ll have a blog post up this Friday with mini-reviews of the stuff I got to try, so anyone going on the weekend can live it up!

The OBAs

I was a steward for the judging portion of the Oregon Beer Awards last weekend, which was a great time and a very well run event. I can’t post many pictures because we were asked to keep any identifying information off social media until after the awards are given at the end of February.

empty cardboard boxesStill, as part of a team that helped serve 1,029 different beers over 36 hours, I can tell you that we went through a lot of beer. Those empty boxes? Not even an eighth of what we dealt with.

Still, I got to see a lot of bottles, not just a few cans and more crowlers than I think we’d really like.

(From a pouring vantage, crowlers cause the most spillage, and wax topped bottles are the biggest pain in the butt to open, especially when you’re under a deadline.)

I also got to try some delicious beer and some questionable ones, though most relevantly, I got to meet some cool people. That’s really what it’s all about.

Well. That and the spoils.

Cases of beer
Twelve cases of beer isn’t a bad haul!

SheBrew 2018

Same as last year- The disclaimer: I know the people involved in putting this event together.

That said, I’m pleased to be promoting SheBrew again, as it’s the only local festival I know that spotlights the accomplishments of women brewers, both amateur and professional. Last year there were over 100 entries for the competition portion of the fest, coming from twenty-two states! This year I suspect will have even more entries, which is really cool.

Then there is the festival portion, where the amateur brews were poured and professional brews are offered alongside them-this year all of the beers offered by the pros will be made by women and many, I’m told, are being brewed specifically for the event!

The competition is February 24th and the entry deadline is the 15th, so get on it if you want in.

The festival, which is open to everyone, is on March 3rd and should be a great time.