Tag Archives: beer festivals

Notes from Nanofest

Nanofest, a beer festival spotlighting breweries that operate on 15 or less barrel systems, was last weekend and my friend Noah and I checked it out on Saturday.

I hadn’t been to Nanofest before but I thought it was pretty decently run. There was plenty of shade and water, in addition to free craft rootbeer or ginger beer for people who were driving. It also had a reasonable amount of seating, which was quite welcome because the event took place in the John’s Market parking lot-everyone stood on asphalt the whole time.

The beverages, though…well, the (lightly) edited notes follow.

braggotFire Cirkl-“Dragon’s Blood” braggot-This has a weird nose. Chocolate runs through it but the finish is odd, too. Like chocolate sludge I’d make from chocolate milk mix when I was a kid.

Leikham Brewing-“Grateful Red” red ale-flower nose but the finish is burnt and unpleasant.

Brewed by Gnomes-“Gnome Pale Ale” herbed pale-MEDICINE. No. (I did not finish this taster).

Bridge 99 Brewery-“Rock Crawler Red” red ale-the finish is a bit chalky, the nose more medicinal than malt.

Noah wasn’t having much luck either. Cooper Mountain’s stout and Shattered Oak’s Dopple berry did not meet with his approval. I recommended to him Bent Shovel, because I’ve had their beer before and liked it. He, too liked the pale ale Bent Shovel had on offer.

Conversion-Wee Heavy ale-This was the first beer that Noah and I both got and we agreed: it was a nice malty beer. It didn’t bowl us over but we enjoyed it.

Wolf Tree Brewery-“Camille’s Golden IPA” golden ale-This had a nice and not overwhelming grapefruit nose and followed up with a similar flavor. It was a little dark for a golden ale but for an IPA? We’ll let it slide under.

26136466590_f2a26dfab3_cEthereal Mead-“Happy Troll” melomel-this looked and tasted like pink lemonade. The good kind-slightly tart and refreshing.

Gateway Brewing-“Glendoveer Golden” kolsch-Corn farts in the nose and the flavor of sadness.

Overall I’d have to say that most of the breweries I tried need a little more work. I had avoided breweries like Pono or Bent Shovel because I’d had their beers before and enjoyed them. But it doesn’t seem like many of the other breweries have risen to their level of quality. Fortunately, they’re at the size that allows them time to grow and improve. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

NW Coffee Beer Invitational

It was a pretty chilly Saturday during the NW Coffee Beer Invitational last weekend but that’s why gloves and hats exist. These things are especially useful when an event is outside, which this was.

In some ways, I don’t think that the beers were served under just circumstances. Cold drinks plus cold weather tend to be the opposite of what normal people do. That didn’t stop people from showing up though: I got there reasonably early and by the time I left, the Invitational had gotten pretty crowded.

Once again, the mildly edited notes, ales in bold are pictured.

Grain Station Brew Works-Hank’s Dark Roast; finish is just raw hop bitterness and that wrecks it.

Base Camp-The Incredible Baltor; a baltic porter that had a weird grassy bite at the end. It’s got some complexity but the grassy note is off putting.

10 Barrel-Pray for Joe; this is a solid winter ale with a coffee accompaniment. It’s weird, but works nicely.

Breakside Brewery-Coffee Sesame Brown; I liked this one. It had a really nice nutty note in the middle of what was a nice light brown ale.

Pints Brewing-Cherry Bomb; this was a very interesting beer. The addition of coffee flavors to the tart Berliner Weisse style wasn’t something I would have expected. I think that for someone else, this would be a great beer. For me, it was just interesting.

Widmer-Scared Half to Death; this pale ale was, essentially, a cold glass of coffee. There wasn’t anything beer oriented in the flavors at all.

I’m not so sure I would go back to this event. Coffee isn’t a flavor I’m incredibly enamored with and the beers mostly fell into the “interesting but not for me” to flat out “why are you doing this to me”, categories. Still, I believe this is the first Coffee Beer Invitational, so perhaps if there is another, more refined flavors will come to light.

The Big Woody Fest review

For a first effort, the Big Woody Fest made a pretty strong impression, despite some less than hopeful initial signs. The website was only part of it, as the whiskey was kept on another level entirely, either because of logistical or legal reasons, I don’t know, but an opportunity was missed. There was also a need, I think, for some food vendors instead of just samples. The beers were mostly quite strong and whiskey isn’t water. Food is good.

Despite that, the beers available were interesting, varied and mostly pretty tasty! Plus, there was a brochure that took the trouble to describe all the beers available so I was able to make some decisions about what to try. Here again: my (mostly) unedited notes. I bolded the ales that are in the photos, and special thanks to my girlfriend for holding the glasses.

Crux, Tough Love Imperial Stout- smells boozy, has an astringent finish that kinda wrecks it, nose of whiskey vanilla is wasted. This one was served quite cold but even after warmup, didn’t improve. A disappointment from a brewery that I’ve enjoyed before this.

Stone, Cali-Belgique- has a lightness, mango finish. Sour but not seriously so. I like this one, maybe with a little ice cream. I’m so used to them being hardcore IPA brewers that it’s cool to get something so different.

Ale Apothecary, SAHALIE- surprisingly good! I hadn’t heard of them before and was turned off by what I felt was a ‘head up our own ass’ product description that said their beer avoided style categorization, but I was wrong. They totally earned it with a great beer.  Lighter, champagne element without the part of champagne I don’t like, the harsh finish.

Mazama, Nightside Eclipse- a great porter: not heavy at all, a light spiciness at the finish. Really well done. I don’t pick up individual notes so much as just a very drinkable beer.

New Belgium’s NBB loves Leopold- the first wave of flavors reminded me of Nerds candy. Pushes sour about a far as I can stand it. I like it and would have a small glass, but a pint is out of the question. Blueberry note but it’s all sour, no sweet.

Deschutes, 2012 Jubelale- has a plum note? Dried fruit and maple syrup too. Has the sour ale nose but that only barely registers in the finish. Really good. I like it but it is too complicated for me to pick it all up in one little taste. Recommended.

Oakshire, Brandywine- no. Just….thin, no nose, caramel, elements subdued, even an oddly strong hop presence. Just not right for the style. Maybe if it had been called something else? Names matter.

Hopworks, Boom Stick- is quite good doesn’t shy away from the bourbon at all, but still sweet, woody, just what I would expect from this. (I went back for the Army of Darkness a little later and that beer was even better).

Widmer, Downward Spiral IPL- has a nice hop to it and is a pretty remarkable achievement. There are some subtle flavors that exist and nothing is overpowering, yet this is a lager. Very good.

I had tastes of other beers, including a really good stout from Lagunitas and a surprisingly excellent barleywine from McMenamins, but I’d stopped taking notes by then. Still, the beers were good enough that I felt that should be mentioned.

Finally: I had tastes of Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Rye whiskey, which I liked and Templeton’s Rye, based on a Prohibition recipe, which I did not. I can’t really evaluate them except to say that the Bendistillery rye had a nice spiciness and the Templeton’s had a corn flavor that I wasn’t fond of.

The Big Woody Fest

I’m probably being unnecessarily uptight here but the name of the barrel aged beer and whiskey fest this weekend feels overly puerile. Perhaps that’s the point and this event is meant to be a bit loosey-goosey? I dunno. It just feels like I keep coming across beers and festivals that want to allude to somebody’s penis and I’m over it, especially when it’s not very clever.

I bring all this up because I’m getting to attend, though. No point it talking about it otherwise, right? So let me tell you about the beers I’m looking forward to…except that, in a genius stroke of marketing, the website lists only the brewers at the event and mentions nothing about the ales that will be served.

The whiskey guys all have it figured out: their page is full of description and is easy to navigate. Some anchored links so users could bounce from one distillery to another quickly would improve it but aside from that, at least all I have to do is scroll down.

The beer page makes two massive mistakes: first, it doesn’t tell you what specific beers are going to be at the event, and second, it forces users to click through to get to more information, information that is nothing more than a profile of the brewery. So not only is information being kept from me (which I’m not too irate about, as it’s likely they don’t know) but I have to click through to reach a dead end, and this does irritate me.

Still, I am going and there will be a review of the event on Wednesday.

Also, this cool site came up via my Twitter feed: http://beerlabelsinmotion.tumblr.com/

It’s rad.

Oregon Brewers’ Fest stuff

I’ll be volunteering at the OBF this Saturday evening so I’ll be talking about it more from that perspective, but I’ve found some information out thanks to the Oregon Brew Crew listserv.

First, Browsing Brews’ has produced some suggested lists of beers to try. I’ve kept myself mostly ignorant of what kinds of beers are there so I can relish the surprise of finding something new but others might be thirsty for information. 

Second, I’ve found out that Rogue will be running a free shuttle service from 12-9pm, starting tomorrow and going through the OBF. The shuttles will run thus:

Rogue NW (1339 NW Flanders) to OBF (Waterfront Park)
OBF to Horse Brass (4534 SE Belmont)
Horse Brass to Green Dragon (928 SE 9th)
Green Dragon to OBF

I don’t know any other details, but that’s a pretty sweet thing their doing. Encouraging safety and the party atmosphere. I like it.

International Brewfest 2008

Fuz and I made our way across the Burnside bridge and to the Portland International Beer Festival. Let’s just get right to it and break this down into the good, the bad and the ugly, shall we?

The good:
Mark Lanegan was on the speakers.

Flyer’s Sick Duck French Oak/Vintage Rum Batch V2 was a really good stout, with sweet chocolate in front, and bitter coffee to finish, so it was like drinking a chocolate coated coffee bean.

Rochefort 8 was one of the densest looking beers I’d ever seen. I could see the particulates floating in the beer suspended as though in something that wasn’t water, and its spicy qualities made me want to chew it. A meal in a glass, I think.

BFM L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chen 2006 was a sour ale the way sour ales ought to be done. Tart instead of sour, I wanted to have this beer with some fruit-based Carribbean dishes; pineapple and mango sauces over tender meats, but I was able to easily drink it on its own.

In all three of these cases, I wanted more than a taste of this beer. I wanted to be able to sit down with a pint and really sink my teeth into them.

The Bad
Someone thought it would be a great idea to have a cigar stand in the middle of the event.  So there were smug assholes smoking cigars everywhere I went; it was unescapeable. They all had the same look on their faces, too: I’m better and wealthier than you and I’m going to go home and have sex on top of piles of money you plebians, so get away from me.

I was never for the smoking ban at Portland’s bars until I saw people with cigars smoking.

The Ugly
First, the PIB took place in a one block area downtown so not only did the event fill up, it overcrowded rather quickly. While there was plenty of shade, there wasn’t much space to sit down and I was always in someone’s way or they were in mine. The servings were about what I’d expect, and the servers were having a good time but more than once I got in the wrong line to get a beer because they didn’t have clear postings about where you could get what.

And damn, if some of the names of those beers weren’t really, really long. What a pain in the butt to say if you’ve had a pint! (Yes, I know I’m complaining about something really silly.)

Finally, I paid $20 for a small plastic glass (they’d run out of glass glasses) and ten tickets. Beers ranged from one ticket to six tickets, and if you wanted something that really was ‘international’, you had to pay more for it. So not only did I not get that many samples of beer for what I paid, but I was surrounded by cigars at every turn, screwing with my ability to smell and taste the beer. Yay!

Fuz and I left as promptly as was reasonable and walked to Bailey’s where for eleven dollars total we both had pints of good beer, relaxing away from the crowds and the smoke.