The “Big Daddy” of all Pacific Northwest beer festivals kicks off next week. Once again its this time of year when 80,000 beer lovers descend upon the Oregon Brewers Festival. And for the 26th edition of this annual gathering the organizers have added an additional day to bring the OBF to run for 5 consecutive days. As OBF founder Art Larrance stated, “If you can’t add space, add time.”
Now kicking off at Noon on Wednesday, July 24th beer fans will be able to take in a relaxing mid-week day along the Willamette. One will be able to sample an array of 84 different beers from across America with a heavy concentration from the Pacific Northwest.
Prior to OBF opening at noon you may want to consider joining the Oregon Brewers Parade. The parade begins at BridgePort Brewing Co right after the completion of the sold out 7th Annual Brewers Brunch. At 11:30am, the parade will leave from BridgePort Brewing Co at the corner of NW 13th & Marshall St. This is also where you can grab your festival wristband prior to 11:30am to gain immediate access into the festival grounds.
The 2013 Grand Marshal, John Foyston, longtime beer writer, will lead the 1.5 mile-long parade. After leaving BridgePort Brewing, the route will then walk south on NW 13th, stopping at NW Flanders to pick up the participants of the Rogue Overflow Brunch. From there the parade will continue south to SW Stark Street, then from Stark to 2nd, 2nd to Pine and into Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Everyone with a wristband will flow through the Pine Street Entrance. Everyone with a tasting glass at the opening ceremonies will receive a complimentary glass of the ceremonial keg, which is a delicious Blueberry Belgian, provided by BridgePort – no tokens required! (Hint, pick up a glass at Rogue before the parade, 1339 NW Flanders St. and you’ll be set). Sounds like an excellent way to kick off the fest.
The additional day is not the only changes that are happening for the annual event. One of the more prominent changes is that OBF organizers have decided to go away from the plastic mug to a nice new 12.8oz tasting glass. Yes, real glass this year. There are a couple of reasons for this change. One is to improve the tasting experience for the patron and the other is to be more environmentally responsible. Hope we don’t see too much broken glass around the grounds.
Now moving onto what is most important about the OBF, the coveted beer list of 84 beers. There will be 30 different styles of beers represented with fruit beers being the most represented style at 15 entries. For those looking for ABV levels, the lowest is Burnside Brewing’s Marionberry Berliner Weiss at 3.5% ABV and the highest from Terminal Gravity’s Tap Out Craft Malt Liquor clocking in at 10% ABV. Be careful with this one from NE Oregon.
From filtering through this list of 84 craft beers quite a few stand out as ones we’ll sure be sampling. Three breweries are brewing up special beers just for this year’s festival.
- Boulder Beer Co. Pump Up The Jam – Pump Up The Jam is a small-batch, unfiltered blueberry wheat beer, brewed exclusively for the 2013 OBF. Oregon sourced blueberries are added imparting a juicy, jammy fruit flavor and aroma into the beer. Left unfiltered, Pump Up The Jam shows off its appetizing hazy, pinkish-purple color, and allows the full tart fruitiness to remain a dominant character in the taste profile.
- Fort George Hop Contract – Made especially for the festival, this beer enjoys the benefits of its unique slow sand-filtered coast range water – and so will you! Neutral ale yeast allows you to taste the organic two-row malted barley and honey malts that provide the beautiful copper color. Cascade hops provide the bitterness and add citrusy notes, and Simcoe and Centennial hops supply the hop flavor and aroma.
- Oakshire Brewing OBF 26 – Celebrating 26 years of the OBF, Oakshire crafted a special commemorative beer just for the event. It uses 26 ingredients, many sourced in Oregon, and features a very approachable 26 IBUs. Two kinds of locally sourced honey and a host of spices, herbs and citrus peels are layered on the Oregon grown malt and hops to make a very unique, yet light and refreshing local golden ale.
Continuing through the list more thoroughly, a few others that we’ll be sampling from breweries of afar. include
- Dunedin Brewing Chronicle 11: Subtropical IPA – It’s rare to get Dunedin’s beers here in the Pacific Northwest. Unique combination of grapefruit peel, pink peppercorn and toasted coconut as ingredients. Fermented by a wit/farmhouse yeast strain that provides a subtle fruit character and a dry tart finish. The hops are Nelson Sauvin, Calypso and Summit.
- Ohio Brewing O’Hoppy Ale IPA – This American IPA is a hophead’s delight! Wonderfully hoppy aromas come first from the Columbus, Cascade, Warrior and Kent Goldings in the boil and Centennials for dry-hopping. Then comes a rich, slightly fruity mouthfeel delivered by pale, crystal, wheat and two-row malts.
- Surly Brewing OverRated! West Coast IPA – Wait, are we west coasters being ridiculed here? Two-row pale and Belgian malts are balanced by El Dorado, Centennial and Chinook hops and accentuated by the hard brewing water. An English ale yeast leaves a lightly fruity flavor and aroma.
And a few of the other beers that we’ll be seeking out include:
- Bayern Brewing Kaiser Pilsner Lager – This beer is cold fermented at 48 degrees and aged four weeks at 29 degrees. Like all Bayern beers, it’s naturally carbonated. A limited edition brew, only two 42-barrel batches will be brewed this year, and some will be available in limited quantities in Portland.
- Boulevard Brewing 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer – Is the result of careful cultivation by Boulevard’s respected brewers and cellarmen. A delightfully distinctive ale with the aroma of an IPA and the refreshing taste of a wheat beer. Both unmalted wheat and wheat malt are mashed with pale malt, bittered with Zeus, Summit and Bravo hops, and flavored with Cascades.
- Deschutes Brewing Double Impact Belgian IPA – Hops and Belgian yeast join forces to deliver a roundhouse kick of aromatics and flavor. This unfiltered brew’s temperature-programmed mash using atmospheric boil with steam combines with the use of hopback hops to provide a double impact of powerful citrus notes that complement complex fruity yeast esters. This beer has an aggressive bitterness that will Van Dammage your palate; Jean Claude would be proud.
- Elysian Brewing Oddland Spiced Pear Ale – Pear plus cardamom and cumin give this beer its unique spicy, sweet character. Two-row pale and carahell malts fermented by West Coast ale yeast let those special ingredients shine. The hop bill of German Northern Brewer for bittering, Cascade and Czech Saaz just before knockout and again in the whirlpool accentuate the spicy, fruity character.
- Gigantic Brewing & Juice – Here’s a great way to drink your vitamin C: grapefruit, pineapple and tangerine juices, added post-fermentation, form the “mosa” side of this interesting brew. A simple grain bill of pale malt gets bittered by Simcoe hops, then doused with bucket loads of Simcoe, and Cascade in the hopback for an intense citrusy character. Oh, then it’s dry-hopped with Cascade and Simcoe so those juices don’t get lonely.
- Hopworks Urban Brewery Two Tickets To Pearadice – Combining a delicate blonde brew with locally-sourced Bartlett & Bosch organic pear juice for a crisp and refreshing fruit beer. Floral & peppery aroma open into a tart, dry imminently drinkable brew. Pack your bags, we leave tonight!
- Maui Brewing Lemongrass Saison – Collaboration brewed with Lost Abbey in San Marcos, CA. It features pilsner, Vienna and Munich malts, is bittered with Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops, and finished with locally raised lemongrass from West Maui Farms. This saison is malty, spicy and refreshing and carries a beautiful aroma of citrus and fruit esters.
- Ninkasi Brewing Bohemian Pils – Pilsner, two-row pale and acidulated malts provide the food and fun for the Budvar bohemian lager yeast to transform this brew into the amazing elixir ready to fill your glass. Hallertau hops do moderate bittering, joined by Czech Saaz for flavoring with even more Saaz tossed into the whirlpool for that spicy, delicate aroma. Fermented and lagered for eight weeks for maximum smoothness.
- Stone Brewing Stone Delicious IPA – This bright and deep gold IPA is brewed with six great hops thrown into the mix, including the addition of two new hops (Mosaic and El Dorado) that Stone has never used before. It’s full bodied, dry and very bitter, with flavors of spiced bread, grapefruit, lemon, nectarine and pine.
And for those that are inquiring about what beers will be in the “Buzz Tent” or “Sour Tent”, these two tents will be taking a hiatus this year. However, they are both scheduled to return next year upon better planning and implementation.
If you are one to plan ahead, you can now buy OBF tasting glasses and tokens at select locations throughout town, including the Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub in SW Portland; Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Green Dragon and Belmont Station in SE Portland; and BridgePort , Rogue Ales Public House and Deschutes Brewery in NW Portland. Prices are the same for advance sales: $7 for a glass, $1 for a token. From planning ahead you will save time once entering the fest and can directly proceed to the taps and enjoy some delicious brews.
So pack some sunscreen, stay hydrated and join the masses down on the waterfront. Fun is sure to ensue.
26th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park – Portland, OR
Main Entrance – SW Oak & Naito Parkway
July 24-28, 2013 (Always the last full weekend in July)
Noon – 9:00pm Wednesday – Saturday
Noon – 7:00pm Sunday
2013 Souvenir Glass $7.00 (Required to sample beer)
Wooden Tokens To Purchase Beer at $1.00 each
1 Token = 3oz Taster
4 Tokens = Full 12.8oz Glass of Beer
Token and Glass Sales Close 30 Minutes Prior To Taps Shutting Off