Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tips on the North American Organic Brewers Festival

[Editor's Note:  I'm still out of town, but my neighbor Dave was kind enough to reconnoiter the NAOBF at Overlook Park for me yesterday.  Thanks, Dave!  These are his notes from the festival.]

2011 NAOBF...not alphabetized! No discernable order, either; some breweries' offerings were yards from each other. All of the beers were served cold: some benefited from this, others needed significant time to warm up to be properly enjoyed. Warmer weather will hopefully shorten the wait. The venue was identical to previous years. Perfect weather Friday; no rain and nice sun breaks without getting too hot. Our favorite aspect of this festival is the amount of space for the crowd -- there is always some open grass for the kids to run around and get their ya-yas out.

  • Ambacht Golden Rye Farmhouse - Very nice; the rye adds a malty body to carry the spice flavors
  • American Brewing Hop, Skip, and Go Natural Pale Ale - This was my first exposure to this new brewery and I was pleasantly surprised. While billed as a Pale Ale, my notes categorized it as an IPA. It appears that the brewmaster comes to ABC via Boundary Bay and Water Street all makes sense now.
  • Elliot Bay Black Ops CDA - Nice representation of a CDA, though I'm still working towards a full understanding of the style. This one reminded me of HUB's Secession Ale; somewhat dry with some coffee flavors floating around.
  • Elliot Bay Demolition Strong Pale Ale - Nice beer...lots of complexity that borders on muddiness. With 6 malts and 6 hops in the ingredients list and some additional dry-hopping, makes me wonder if they were cleaning house or going for a record of some sort. Nonetheless, a tasty beer.
  • Fort George Quick Wit - Nice sessionable Wit, perfect for a sunny day.
  • Fort George Spruce Budd Ale - Well done non-hopped beer! I can't say I picked up on the spruce flavors...another summery sessionable beer from Fort George...I'd guess that both will be quite popular at the fest if the weather gets warmer.
  • Hopworks Galactic Imperial Red - Had to get it (twice), even though I've already consumed a gallon or two from the pub and bottles. I'm disqualifying it as a ringer...and making plans to get more.
  • Logsdon Seizoen Bretta - Co-winner of the CTBBF; working towards giving sour beers a good name.
  • Lompoc Notorious IPA - Nice clean IPA after the wall-of-sound from Elliot Bay. Good floral hoppiness with crisp bitter finish...could have used a touch more malt to balance it out.
  • Widmer Crunchy Dude Pale - tasty; the fruit in the granola contributes to the nose but stays in the backgound on the tongue. Nice creamy body from the oats.
  • Beetje Tonic 42 Saison - Just okay; a little bland for a Saison. The description states a 5 liter/day allocation...4 ounces was plenty.
  • Bison Honey Basil Ale - I didn't actually taste this, but heard it described as "drinking pickles"
  • Fish Brewing IPA - Reinforced my general ambivilance towards Fish...drinkable, but nothing to set it apart from the Alameda or Eel River IPA's.
  • McMenamins Oak Hills Kolsch - Bad example of a Kolsch...thin and watery, no spice.
  • Terminal Gravity Pale Ale- "a lot of malt flavor" must be a relative term...not one of my favorites from a very competent brewery.
Other notes:
  • Alameda El Torero IPA - Heard some buzz in the crowd, and have heard some raves around town about Alameda...I just don't see it. My scale might be off, but it's hard to believe this hits 110 IBU's.
  • Captured By Porches - Another brewery that I didn't sample, though not for lack of sort of trying. By the time I decided to take one for the team I couldn't find any of their offerings in the main tent. The program only described four different kombuchas, and none of them sounded very enticing.
  • Eel River IPA - Another indication that I may not be clued into what IBU's define...I found this to be a bit underwhelming for clocking in at 95.
  • Laht Neppur Strawberry Cream Ale - no direct experience; Jill snuck a taste and declared it to have a nice beer flavor and to not be scared by the name...the fruit is subtle and well-managed.
  • Natian CoDA CDA - This one is worth warming up a bit to bring the malt forward.
  • Oakshire Subtext PNWR - Another one served too cold; gotta say it didn't open up like I thought it would. Overall, a nice balanced red with a dry finish.
  • Oakshire Triple Bottom Line Belgian - NOT a Triple...just a Belgian Pale. I probably would have liked it more if I'd clued into that sooner.
  • Upright Reggae Junkie Gruit - Another hopless beer; not bad, but the no-hop win goes to Fort George.


  1. To clarify, the person that said the honey basil tasted like pickles was referring to another basil beer he had tasted. This honey basil did not taste like pickles, but that may have improved the taste. It was the only beer I dumped.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Amy; glad I missed out on both. Basil seems like a legitimate ingredient...has anybody had a basil beer worth trying?

  3. A very cool review for those of us that couldn't make the event. I really looked forward to hearing reviews about Logsdon out of Hood River. Very refreshing, and makes my palate water and ready itself more so. Thanks for the early peek and thorough details.

    Brewmance Perry

  4. Captured by Porches had to drop out at the last minute due to being short on kegs - that's why they only poured the kombucha.

  5. I was also frustrated with the lack of order with respect to the beer lines. In addition to the points mentioned here, many of the beers were not located under the corresponding beer signs -- I waited in line several times for beers, only to find out at the front of the line that my intended beer was actually a few stations away. Meanwhile, many disregarded lines altogether because of the same frustration.

    It's interesting to see Ambacht Golden Rye Farmhouse and Elliot Bay Black Ops CDA on this list of picks -- I didn't care for either.