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Organic Beer Fest 2016 Reviews

I arrived early to the Organic fest, and I’m glad I did. The lines were nonexistent and that gave me plenty of opportunity to try some beer without waiting in line. Reviews are mildly edited, as per usual.

Coin Toss-Half Penny Lager: smells like a lager and the flavor is one where I can detect the rice sweetness. It’s got a creaminess to it, giving it a little more body than other lagers might have and the finish isn’t too crisp. But it’s solid.

Old Tow Cardamum’s the Word

Old Town-Cardamum’s The Word (Hibiscus and Cardamon wheat ale)-There’s an herbal nose, so I can pick up the cardamon and the hibiscus is near the finish and also very light…but there isn’t quite enough there, there. I can’t recommend it, but I also can’t recommend against it, either.

Falling Sky-Organic Matters Pale-skunky nose and while it’s not off putting, it suggests something old, not nice. The bitterness on the finish is countered but a slightly sour note that really torques it all poorly.

Yachats-Cetacea saison: if someone had just given me this beer, I would insist this was a lager. Same kind of nose, same kind clean middle. This saison is something I have to dig for, like an archeologist, with its floral spiciness beneath it all. I think someone should else should try it for perspective, just know you may not get what’s expected.

Thirsty Bear-Valencia Wheat: it’s sweet at the start but the finish is just nasty. I want to rinse my mouth out with mouthwash to get this dirty flavor out.

Aslan-Dawn Patrol “pacific ale”: I should’ve known before I even got it that when they didn’t ID it by a style that exists, trouble lay ahead. Candy fruit in the nose leading into a touch of malt on the tongue but vegetal on the finish.

McMenamins’ Pavol the Collector

McMenamins-2016 Hogshead Barrel Aged Pavol the Collector Baltic Porter: it’s a pretty damn good beer. A hit of that whiskey sweetness in the nose, with a touch of vanilla and then a pleasantly chocolaty beer that has a remarkably smooth finish.

Fecken-Arnold Fecken Palmer Golden Ale: the cold brew tea is in the nose, but the beer itself is a a pleasantly sippable beer: the lemon peel flavor on the finish is a touch offputting, preventing this from becoming a really great session summer beer but I’d have another.


The Organic Problem

I don’t know what it is, but organic beers always have the same problem for me; the dirt aftertaste. I don’t mean dirty, like there’s some kind of grit or errant nodule that’s made its way into the beer, I mean that when the beer leaves my mouth, my throat and tongue taste like I’ve put them in dirt. It doesn’t seem to matter who makes the beer, or what style of beer it is, I’d say 85% of the time I still feel like I’ve tasted dirt.

Which is why I tend to avoid organic beers. And you know how it is when you don’t like something; you tell 10 people and they tell 10 people and so on–so you end up having a whole group of people who avoid organic beers, for better or worse.

deschutes green lakesIt had been suggested by my girlfriend that we go and get a hot dog at Zack’s Shack for dinner. A blond, curly haired stoner dude with a pleasant attitude right out of the Spicoli playbook told us that the cash register was down for a moment so he’d charge us later, and in the meantime took our orders for hot dogs (a NY dog for her, garlic and cheese for me) and poured us two Green Lake ales. My expectations were low, but Deschutes is still Deschutes; they’ve earned my respect.

And the Green Lake Ale is very, very smooth. Munching hot dogs in a tiny place with Band of Horses and Radiohead posters on the side and a Ms Pac Man tabletop machine, this beer works great. I don’t know how Deschutes did it, but they made a fine pale ale that has a gentle bitterness at the end, but no dirt aftertaste. Then again, I don’t know why organic ales had to taste like dirt to begin with, so the secret to getting this one right eludes me.

I didn’t mind; the fries were hot and something has to wash down my garlic dog, so the Green Lake worked great.

This post may become utterly meaningless after this Friday, when I attend the Organic Brewer’s Festival. But I can look forward to eating those words, I think.