Thursday, July 25, 2013

First Thoughts on OBF 2013

There you go, that's the Beard that made Newport famous.

Rogue's Beard Beer is something you should plunk down a dollar for at the 2013 Oregon Brewers Festival, not because it's good, but so that for the rest of your life you can tell people you drank beer made from some guy's beard.  It reminds me a little of a bread-yeast homebrew someone gave me a few years ago.

On the other hand, there are some beers that you should try just because they are delicious.  These are some beers I really liked from the dozen or so I tried yesterday:

  • Stone Delicious IPA: you can taste the hop pollen in this one; huge body and huge tropical-fruit hops
  • Boulder Pump up the Jam: a refreshing wheat beer; mild blueberries match well with the wheat
  • Speakeasy Tallulah: an Extra Pale Ale, light bodied with lovely flowery hops; around here it would probably get labeled an India Session Ale
  • Collaborator Smoked Helles: this year's Oregon Brew Crew/Widmer collaboration is a solid Helles (a little strong at 5.9%) with just the right touch of smoke
  • Gigantic & Juice: a "beermosa" (the second I've had this year) with additions of grapefruit, pineapple, and tangerine juice; don't worry, the juice is pretty light, playing a little citrus off the hops
  • Mt. Shasta Skip and Go Naked: if you like the Boulder blueberry beer, this strawberry-ginger hefeweizen is along the same lines, refreshing with a nice touch of fruit 
[Update 2013/07/26: Here are some new picks from more "research" on Friday.  I let my IPA lust loose:

  • Oakshire OBF 26: floral notes, refreshing for its 7% size, must be hoppier than the listed 26 IBUs
  • Heathen Transgression IPA: solid, chewy tongue-scraper with hints of orange (newish Vancouver, WA brewery)
  • Ft. George Hop Contract: another citrusy IPA, well done
  • Vertigo Key Lime Tropical Blonde: nice thirst quencher, esters and key lime, kind of a coconut flavor in there somewhere

Perhaps it's a sign of the times that half of my picks have fruit additions.  Jeff Alworth pointed out that this year there are more fruit beers at OBF than IPAs - surely that has never happened before.  Pretty soon we won't need a special festival just for fruit beers.  Another interesting thing is that there are 3 Dortmunder-style lagers at the festival -- not a super common style.  In my opinion, Occidental's crisp and tasty Dortmunder barely edged out Breakside's slightly richer entry as the best in the lot; you could also try Old Town Brewing's version, but it was not in the same league as the other two.  (Speaking of Old Town, their pizza place at 226 NW Davis is just a short walk from the OBF if you need a break from the crowds; I've been happy with several of their house beers.)

So far I haven't had any beers I would definitely avoid.  Watch this space for updates.  [Update 2013/07/26: After Friday's visit, I have some beers I recommend avoiding.  Fire Mountain Bogart IPA: malt syrupy, not good.  Wild River Kolsch: one friend described the flavor as "spoiled milk".  Hales Double Pale Ale: a sweet mess, none of the flavors go well together.]

Much has been made of the change in glassware this year.  Happily, it's glass for the first time, instead of plastic.  However, the glass only holds 12 ounces as opposed to 14 in years past, and the sample size has gone from 4 ounces down to 3.  There was a lot of hand-wringing before the festival about that small sample, but honestly it was big enough for me to get a good idea of the beer.  The one thing I will say is, given the small size, the pourers could at least make sure they get your pour to the line.  Apparently they've been trained to err on the side of smaller pours, and about half the time I had to ask for a top-up.  Come on, guys, if the liquid is half a finger over the line, it's not going to break the bank.

I'll try to update with more picks and possibly some pans after my foray today.  Meanwhile, NO WOO-OOO-OOO-ing!