Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why You Should Attend the Portland Fruit Beer Festival

This picture gives you a glimpse of what's behind the scenes at the upcoming Portland Fruit Beer Festival: barrels, kegs, canisters of compressed gas, jockey boxes, Jason McAdam.  But the real reason you should head over to this first-ever festival at Burnside Brewing this weekend (June 11 and 12) is the beer.  In the main festival area in the Burnside parking lot, there will be 15 different fruit beers available for $1 per sample, and inside the brewery there will be two special taps with a rotating selection of special fruity rarities priced at $2-$3 a sample.

Put aside any preconceptions you might have about light, fruit-flavored beers designed to appease people who don't like beer.  Ezra has put together a program of outstanding and highly creative beers, most of which were brewed just for this event and haven't been seen before.  Paradoxically, there are more beers on the "rare beer" list that you might already have tasted than than there are on the "standard" list.  If you want to do some homework before the festival, descriptions of all the beers -- standards and rarities -- are on this list.  Here are a few that I recommend trying:

  • Block 15 Psidium Guava Farmhouse Ale: one of my favorites from a festival preview the other day: tropical fruit and funky yeast aromas and flavors, pleasantly fizzy and yeasty with a bitter hop finish.  Typically hyperactive creation from Block 15: the citra-hopped (!) guava (!) farmhouse ale (!) is mixed with 25% golden ale barrel aged (!) for 20 months with brettanomyces (!) and lactobacillus (!).
  • Fort George Badda Boom Cherry Stout: nice cherry and coffee notes (no coffee added), very bitter and a little astringent.  Brewed with the Westmalle yeast that was used at this year's Cheers to Belgian Beers.
  • Ninkasi Pinot barrel-aged Cherry Oatis Stout: can't wait to try this.
  • Breakside Mango IPA: We gotta have some hops.  Sounds tasty.
  • Widmer Himbeere Gose mit dem Eibisch: Yet another Portland Gose, with raspberries and hibiscus.  I like goses, and this should be a pretty one.
  • Widmer 2009 Cherry Oak Doppelbock: I was just talking to Brian the other day about this first Brother's Reserve beer, hoping to see it again.  Well, here it is.
  • Hopworks Chupacabra Chile Stout: Hopworks decided to be that guy that says "Well, technically peppers are fruits, not vegetables.  Did you know okra is a fruit?"  But the result of this smart-assery was the most polished beer at the preview:  the chiles go very well with the coffee in this variant of their Survival Stout.
  • Burnside Marionberry Berliner Weisse: a beautiful dark-pink beer, very light and refreshing, not as tart as you'd expect, with a lovely berry flavor.
  • New Belgium Peach Love Flanders Brown: La Folie aged on peaches.  This could be really good or an insane challenge, but I want to try it for myself.
  • Block 15 La Ferme de Demons 2010: the winning entry from last year's Cheers to Belgian Beers; I didn't care much for it last year, but I'd like to taste it a year older.
If none of those sound appealing to you, there are other intriguing choices from Alameda, Beetje, Dogfish Head, Laurelwood, Lompoc, Oakshire, and Upright.
    All but two of the festival "standards" are unique to PFBF -- only the selections from out-of-town big boys New Belgium (Ooh La La) and Dogfish Head (Festina Peche) are something you might have had before.  As I said above, the rarities list actually has several beers that you may well have tried already:  Widmer doppelbock, He'Brew Origin, Cascade Apricot and Kriek, and Double Mountain Devil's Kriek.  Still, those are some interesting offerings, so you'll want to keep checking the board to see what's on tap, or better yet, follow PFBF on Twitter or Facebook for instant updates.

    Now for some festival details:
    • Where: 701 E. Burnside (Note: The Burnside Bridge  is closed Saturday morning for the Rose Parade.)
    • When:
      • Saturday June 11, 2011, 11 AM - 9 PM
      • Sunday June 12, 2011, 11 AM - 6 PM
    • Cost: free entry; 16-ounce tasting glass $6; 4-ounce taste $1
    • All ages are admitted.
    • Car parking: good luck. The Rose Parade will further complicate matters early Saturday.  Bike or take the bus.
    • Bike parking:  not much at the festival.  There are big bike corrals just off East Burnside at 6th, 8th, and 9th, and there's another one at 9th and Ash.
    Make some time this weekend to come on out to the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, even if you haven't been a big fruit beer fan in the past.  There will be some unique beers that are really worth a try and may never be seen again.


    1. That sounds absolutely fantastic. I am sorry I will be unable to attend but I look forward to your report.

    2. OK, beer list looks great... we're in! But the MAIN reason anyone should attend PFBF is to receive a pour from It's Pub Night himself - from opening til 2pm on Saturday!