Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oregon Brewers Festival 2011 Recommendations

For those of you who haven't yet plunged in and plunged out of the OBF this year, Dave and I have put together a list of recommendations, based on a visit yesterday before the whooping crowds got too thick. I apologize that it's heavy on the South tent, especially now that I see that Charles already covered the South really well. [Update 2011/07/31: I've added a few more picks and pans from the North after a visit Saturday.] As always, your mileage may vary.

  • Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Pale: Dave's best in show, beautiful layering of hops
  • Laughing Dog Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter: Bill's best in show, not boozy, just a creamy melange of coffee, chocolate malt, and vanilla flavors
  • Laht Neppur Peach Hefe: light, subtly peachy, wheaty and refreshing
  • Upright Offen Weisse: light and refreshing with lots of banana flavor
  • Ale Industries Orange Kush: chamomile gives a nice coconutty flavor, with light citrus
  • Mt. Emily Wildfire Red: nice red, not too malty
  • Caldera Hop Hash: well done, restrained use of concentrated lupulin
  • Widmer Foggy Bog Cranberry Ale: nice wheat-beer flavor with a little cranberry tartness and astringency; beautiful to look at
  • Amnesia Imperial IPA: nice imperial, well balanced malt/hop
  • Hazel Dell Imperial IPA: less balanced, but nice bitterness
  • Hop Valley Alpha Centauri: awesome double IPA, perfect balance, smooth and creamy
  • Columbia River Brewing Nyctophobia CDA: dark, malty, hoppy, tasty stuff
  • Elysian Idiot Sauvin: great use of the Neslson hops, strong citrus flavor
  • Firestone Walker Double Jack: a ringer, must try if you have never had it
  • Gilgamesh Mint Kölsch: way too minty, like mouthwash
  • Dogfish Head Black & Red: another mint failure, plus nasty acetone kick
  • Natian CDA: flavors don't combine well, also a little solvent note sticks out
  • Riverport Blonde Moment: oddly tart, something's wrong
  • 10 Barrel Zitrone Kölsch: too lemony, like a lemon drop candy
  • Collaborator Hopfinium: the one guy Dave heard hyping this was an idiot
  • Salmon Creek Oatus the Red: okay red, creamy body but not much malt
  • Coatlition WU Cream: one dimensional... not creamy
  • Fire Mountain Tan Line: eeeewww... had to dump it. nasty bitterness, kinda soapy
I was surprised how much I liked the light fruit beers from Laht Neppur and Widmer -- coincidentally both have added lactose for the yeast to nurse on.  They are both nice lighter choices for the heat of the day, as is Upright's dandy German-style hefeweizen, Ale Industries' (Concord, CA) Orange Kush, and of course Burnside's lightly smoked Grätzer.  A beer that I don't understand the long lines for is Ninkasi's Helles Belles.  Yesterday the lines for that were 20 or 30 deep early in the fest when you could walk right up to almost any other beer, but it's too sweet for a Helles and lacks the malty-yet-crisp finish you'd expect.

One bummer:  the one-off Buzz Tent beers went so fast the first two days, that the Buzz Tent is finished.  I missed it completely, since my time yesterday was limited.

Some other eyewitness accounts:
The weather seems perfect this year: sunny but not too hot. The crowds are thicker and earlier than usual, but I still love the OBF: its mix of snobs and newbies, the view of the river, the good vibe, and of course 85 beers to try.


  1. Nice write-up, Bill.

  2. I guess tastes do vary--I only had two IPAs at my fest, though I did sample from friends' pours. I was aware that I favored three Belgians and a German lager in my review. I'm out of step with my own city!

  3. I also thought the Anubis was pretty good. Found myself sampling more of the lighter/summer beers this time around since the weather was completely geared for that category. Had a great time - glad you guys did, too.