Getting geared up for the 25th annual Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF)? We certainly are! With more than 100 beers to choose from, including the buzz tent featuring rare, bold, and one-off brews, and a newly established sour tent for those with a hankering for tart, wild, and funky brews, this year’s OBF looks to be the best ever.
We’ll leave the obvious choices from the buzz and sour tents off the list here. You’ll have to seek those out on your own. (Tip: Get on Twitter and follow @OBFBuzzTent and @OBFSourTent to discover updates on new kegs tapping in these sought after portions of the fest!)
Here’s our picks from the main offerings at OBF. These are based on a few factors including drinkability, uniqueness, and overall brewery reputation. But, hey, don’t take our word for it. Find your favorites and share with your friends!
10 Barrel Brewing Co. Bend OR www.10barrel.com Raspberry Crush American-Style Sour Ale 5.2% ABV 4 IBU Acidulated white wheat, raspberries and an inoculation of lactobacillus in the fermenter give this American ale its tart, fruity taste. Low hop levels let the special sour flavors dominate, and rice syrup helps yield a particularly light finish and body. This is a real summer refresher. 10 Barrel Brewing Co. is situated in the mountain town of Bend. Its number one goal is to make the finest hand crafted beers possible. Its second goal is to have as much fun possible. Its third goal is to be innovative and try to re-create the brewing wheel. Come join them on the journey!
Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA www.ballastpoint.com Sculpin IPA 6.6 ABV 70 IBU 2-Row, Caramel and Carapils malts provide just enough malty sweetness to balance this beer’s amazing seven – yes, seven – different hops added several times to the boil, as well as to the knock-out and in the fermenter. Northern Brewer, German Tradition, Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe give it not only a bracing bitterness, but a rich, hop flavor. Ballast Point started as a homebrew shop in 1992, added a brewery in 1996, a new production facility in 2005 and topped 10,000 barrels of production in 2008. You can even find their beer in Japan. They also are the first licensed distiller in San Diego – look for products to hit shelves sometime this summer.
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA www.bearrepublic.com Black Racer American-Style Black Ale 8.1 ABV 75 IBU Many IPA lovers look for a one-to-one ratio of bitterness points (IBU) to original gravity points. This beer not only does that, but throws in the unique character of debittered black malt to provide richness and roasty sweetness without the sharp edge, letting the hops shine through. Stout lovers and IPA lovers, unite! Bear Republic Brewing is a family business that’s created quite a name and a following within the craft brew industry. The Norgrove family founders are third and fourth generation Sonoma County residents and have helped to promote a love for fine beer in a region where passions are energetically expressed in all kinds of food and drink.
Beer Valley Brewing Ontario OR www.beervalleybrewing.com Oregonberry Wheat Ale 4 ABV 8 IBU In some ways a simple, no-nonsense brew, the unique flavor of this beer comes from the “Oregonberry” concoction – a mix of plums, blueberries and cherries to sweeten and deepen the wort made from pale, light wheat and honey malts. The hop bill is also very Oregon: Cascade, which adds a bit more citrus and a delightful floral character. Light and refreshing, its low alcohol means you can go back for more, or fill the mug! Beer Valley Brewing Co. is an award winning microbrewery located in Ontario, Oregon. Founded in 2005, Beer Valley specializes in the production of strong ales. The brewery currently produces six brands year round – including Black Flag Imperial Stout, Highway to Ale Barleywine and Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale – plus occasional seasonals.
Boundary Bay Brewery Bellingham WA www.bbaybrewery.com Double Dry Hopped Delta Pale Ale 5.6 ABV 45 IBU Successful innovation doesn’t always have to be complex. This single-hopped beer uses the earthy, minerally, somewhat spicy Delta hop, a relative newcomer to the hop scene, for all five additions – bittering, flavoring, aroma and two dry hop additions. Its almost as simple grain bill is comprised of 2-Row and Munich malts, fermented by a Northwest ale yeast. Boundary Bay’s 17-barrel brewery opened in 1995 in a restored historic 1922 warehouse in downtown Bellingham. Customers of the Taproom and Bistro can enjoy 10 fine ales and lagers and full-service smoke-free family-friendly dining. Its beers have won numerous awards from the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup and North American Beer Awards.
Cascade Brewing Co. Portland OR www.cascadebrewing.com Razberry Wheat Raspberry Wheat 4.5 ABV 15 IBU Put on your rose-colored beer goggles: this brew really is pretty in pink. Whole raspberries added to a sour mash Berlin-style wheat beer create a berry splash in this extremely refreshing beer. The raspberry is apparent on the nose, while the palate is tart and lemony with a hint of wheat. This may be the most quenching brew at the festival. Under the direction of Brewmaster Ron Gansberg, Cascade Brewing has pioneered the Northwest Sour Style, winning accolades and awards for its barrel-aged, lactic-fermented sour beers, which complement the well-balanced beers on draft year-round. The Cascade Brewing Barrel House, located just across the river, features no fewer than a dozen sours on tap at all times.
Coalition Brewing Co. Portland OR www.coalitionbrewing.com Rooster’s Cream Ale 4.8 ABV 28 IBU American 2-Row pale, Munich, Carapils and honey malts along with flaked barley comprise this brew’s complex grain bill. By contrast, only two workhorse hops – Sterling and Perle – do the heavy lifting on the lupulin side, but they do double duty with two hop additions each. The low hop levels keeps this big brew malt-balanced and easy to drink. Coalition Brewing is a pub and 10-barrel brewery in inner SE Portland. Head Brewer Bruce MacPhee is an industry veteran of 10 years, and uses his experience and personal love of brewing to help create delicious and balanced beers. The love of beer and the brewing process is the impetus for the Coalator Program, which encourages local homebrewers to brew their recipes in the brewery and serve them at the pub.
Collaborator Portland OR www.oregonbrewcrew.org Pineapple Express Light American Wheat Ale 5.7 ABV 7 IBU Love for his wife inspired homebrewer Josh Huerta’s brew that became the latest in the Collaborator series. Pineapple added to the secondary fermenter adds a fruity sweetness as well as the flavor and aroma of the fruit, while leaving the acidity and bitterness behind. 2-Row, Munich and wheat malts are supplemented by corn sugar for a light-bodied sweet beer that’s not cloying. Collaborator is one of the oldest collaborations in the nation between a craft brewer (Widmer Brothers) and homebrewers (the Oregon Brew Crew). Home brewers design the beers and compete to win the opportunity to have its beer made and distributed by a world-class micro-brewery. Want to be famous? Fire up your brew kettle!
Dunedin Brewery Dunedin FL www.dunedinbrewery.com IPA Chronicle: FL-Oregon Trail American-Style India Pale Ale 7.5 ABV 125 IBU Dunedin makes its debut at the OBF with a complex, high-gravity IPA and record-setting bitterness (an off-the-chart 125 IBUs). Sweet orange peel complements the Summit, Pacifica and Nelson Sauvin hops added in extreme proportions to overcome the high gravity produced by 2-Row pale, biscuit, Munich 20, Carafoam and Crystal 80L malts. Florida orange blossom honey adds flavor and fermentables to generate that high alcohol. While new to the OBF, Dunedin is Florida’s oldest craft brewery, producing small, 20 barrel batches primarily for the Tampa Bay draft market. Seven year-round brews include an Apricot Peach Ale, Red Ale and Nitro Stout, while seasonals include a Maibock, The Bard (a heavy Scotch ale) and a dry hopped lager known as “Three Coins.” Its beer visits Oregon only rarely, so give it a friendly welcome.
Epic Brewing Co. Salt Lake City UT www.epicbrewing.com Epic Hop Syndrome Lager Session Beer 4.8 ABV 29 IBU Epic makes a splash worthy of its name with this highly quaffable, moderately-hopped beer whose 4.8% alcohol content is low only by craft beer standards. It may be the only beer in the festival using French hops (Aramis) which, added to the hopback, provide a delicate, herbal German noble hop type aroma with a hint of lemon. Calypso and Crystal hops do the bittering on wort drawn from Weyermann Pils and Munich Malts and Briess 2-Row Carapils. New to the OBF! In 2008, Utah law changed allowing entrepreneurs David Cole and Peter Erickson to pursue their longtime dream of opening a strong beer microbrewery in Utah. With brewmaster Kevin Crompton, the EPIC team has a strong belief in doing everything “all out.” Their “Exponential” series includes Imperial IPA, Double Skull Doppelbock and “Glutenator,” a gluten-free beer made without sorghum.
Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR www.fullsailbrewing.com Full Sail Brewers Share Chris’ Summer Delight Berliner Weiss 4 ABV 9 IBU Full Sail’s third beer in the Brewer’s Share Series is an unfiltered, refreshingly tart small batch Berliner Weiss beer, brewed with 50% wheat malt and just a touch of Hersbrucker hops. This German style sour brew with a dry finish is designed for a hot summer day. Also available in 22 oz. bottles, proceeds from sales of this beer benefit the Oregon State University Brewing Sciences Program. Independent, employee-owned Full Sail has been making great beer since 1987. Perched on a bluff in Hood River, OR, “the adrenaline capital of the Northwest,” Full Sail ferments godlike nectar as big as the scenery in the Columbia River Gorge. Full Sail is committed to brewing great beer while adhering to socially and environmentally sustainable practices.
Golden Valley Brewery McMinnville OR www.goldenvalleybrewery.com Rose` de Vallee` 5 ABV 8 IBU Locally-grown Yamhill County raspberries add a sweet-tart fruitiness to this sour-mash beer brewed from Great Western white wheat and Yamhill County grown and malted IdaPils barley from Christensen Farms. A light touch of Czech Saaz hops allows the tartness to come through, accentuated by fermentation with Wyeast Lambic strains of yeast. Under brewmaster Mark Vickery, Golden Valley produces small batches of well-balanced, complex craft beer, including a brut IPA in champagne bottles and the wonderful Tannen Bomb winter warmer. The restaurant features high ceilings, a full bar and fine food, featuring its own Angus Springs beef fed with spent grain from the brewery.
Kona Brewing Co. Kailua Kona HI www.konabrewingco.com Big Wave Golden Ale Golden or Blonde Ale 4.3 ABV 20 IBU Say Aloha and hang out with this pretty blonde! Two-Row pale malt and Briess Caramel 10L malt give this beer its lightly suntanned appearance. Hops include Alchemy at the beginning of the boil and Citra & Galaxy for dry-hopping, providing a low hop footprint that’ll wash away with the next wave of goodness that splashes across your palate. Located in picturesque Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, Kona is Hawaii’s largest craft brewery. Its 10,000 barrel annual production covers a full spectrum of styles, flavors, and colors, from the darkest – Da Grind Buzz Kona Coffee Imperial Stout – to the Wailua Wheat.
Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA www.lagunitas.com OBF Fusion Oregon Specialty A special beer for Oregon only. Conceived by Oregon beer lovers, then brewed in Petaluma by Oregonians with a recipe so secret, even the brewers don’t know it. They overcome the risk of brewing blindfolded by hiring seeing-eye dogs to do all of the heavy lifting. In other words, typical Lagunitas beer! From its earliest days of striving to make consistently good beer, and instead making beer that ranged from vile, to barely drinkable, to wonderful, to elegant, to questionable-at-best; from being castigated by its West Marin neighbors to finally suffering an ‘eviction’ by its West Marin septic system; from landing in the welcoming arms of Petaluma, and actually getting its beer into bottles, onto the streets, and into the hands of sympathetic beer geeks. From all this and more, Lagunitas Brewing Company has emerged as a battle-tested brewery capable of making great beer out of goat’s milk, brambles, and asphalt on the surface of the Moon, if need be.
Laurelwood Brewing Co. Portland OR www.laurelwoodbrewpub.com Portlandia Pils Out of Category – Traditionally Brewed Beer 5.5 ABV 50 IBU Van fans, gather round! This “out of category” Pils boasts a special brewing technique – “the patented Van Havig 80 WP residency.” Organic 2-Row and German Kiln Caramel malts provide a playground in the wort for the full gamut of American aroma hops to play, including Columbus, Cascade, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial. Laurelwood is known for exquisite award-winning, certified organic pub beers in four locations in Oregon and SW Washington. Brewing Oregon’s first certified organic beers- and a host of other tasty brews- it’s garnered lots of awards- including Champion Brewery at the 2004 World Beer Cup. The family-friendly, neighborhood pubs also serve up some killer grub.
Maui Brewing Co. Lahaina HI www.mauibrewingco.com La Perouse White Witbier 5.1 ABV 18 IBU This award-winning brew (silver, 2011 GABF and bronze, 2012 World Beer Cup) is spiced with coriander and fresh local mandarin oranges. Pilsner and wheat malts provide the nearly white hue and soft malty flavor, and noble German Tettnang hops provide a gentle spiciness and mild bitterness that leaves plenty of room to taste those special ingredients. Talk about a dream job – brewing in Maui! Located next door to the Sugar Cane train depot in Lahaina, Maui’s brewers mix surf and suds to make great award-winning beer. Its beloved Coconut Porter took Gold at the 2009 San Diego International Beer Competition and Bronze at the 2009 US Open Beer Championship.
Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR www.ninkasibrewing.com Lady of Avalon International-Style Pilsener 5.2 ABV 20 IBU Ninkasi used all German malt from Weyermann (Pils, Munich, Caramunich and Dehusked Carafe) to concoct this Prussian-style brew. Two early additions of U.S. Hallertau hops provide a spicy balance. This beer was lagered for two months before being centrifuged, and then lagered another two months for a clean, crisp tasting experience at the festival. Ninkasi Brewing strives to make incredibly high quality and creative beers for the surrounding village. When they aren’t making and selling beer, Ninkasi’s crew focuses on supporting the wonderful cultural aspects of the community by supporting all the arts, non-profit organizations and those who pursue creative passions and joy.
Oakshire Brewing Eugene OR www.oakbrew.com 25 Imperial Oregon Ale 7.5 ABV 25 IBU Celebrating 25 outstanding years of the Oregon Brewers Fest, Oakshire crafted a beer to celebrate the bounty in our state. Made with 25 ingredients including Oregon grown grains and hops, locally sourced honey, herbs, toasted hazelnuts, cranberries and more, 25 is a light to medium bodied amber ale with bright citrus aromas, a nutty malt character, a hint of fresh herbs and a clean, crisp finish. Founded in October 2006 by brothers Jeff and Chris Althouse, Oakshire Brewing is a 15-barrel production brewery dedicated to making fine craft beer. What began as a homebrewing hobby and a love of beer has turned into award-winning beer on draft and in bottles throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Occidental Brewing Co. Portland OR www.occidentalbrewing.com Occidental Kellerbier (Cellar Beer) 4.9 ABV 25 IBU Kellerbier, also known as Zwickelbier, is a unfiltered, unpasteurized brew of German origin. Pilsen and Carapils malt form the simple grist bill, while the wort is moderately bittered with Tettnanger hops for a slightly spicy flavor and aroma. The Budvar yeast strain yields a malty nose with subtle fruit tones. The yeast held in suspension makes it naturally cloudy – and full of vitamins. Get your vitamin B here! One of the newest breweries in Portland, Occidental Brewing opened its kettles in 2011, specializing in continental beer styles and focusing mainly on classic German brews. Unusual for a Portland brewery, it doesn’t brew an IPA! It does, however, brew Kölsch, Altbier, Hefeweizen and Dunkel as well as this special OBF brew. Some 30 establishments in town offer its beer on tap, and you can fill pints, growlers or kegs at the brewhouse.
Oregon Trail Brewery Corvallis OR www.oregontrailbrewery.com Oregon Trail Lavender Ale Herb and Spice Beer 4.9 ABV 28 IBU Oregon Trail concocted the starting wort from pale, wheat and Crystal malts. They lightly bittered it with Nugget hops in the boil and flavored it with Mt. Hoods late in the boil and at knockout. After fermentation, they infused the finished beer with crushed lavender flowers for a unique floral, spicy flavor and aroma. If you haven’t given your partner flowers lately, give them one of these – it may be your chance to redeem yourself. Founded in 1987, Oregon Trail is the third oldest brewery in Oregon. The brewery, located in a three-story gravity fed building in downtown Corvallis, currently harbors one of the nation’s youngest brewmasters, having started at the age of 20. Oregon Trail brews an IPA, Ginseng Porter, Northern English Brown Ale, and “Beavertail” Pale Ale year round, along with a number of seasonals.
Rock Bottom Brewery Portland OR www.rockbottom.com Teddy’s Sunburn Red Kölsch German-Style Kölsch/Köln-Style 5.5 ABV 35 IBU This unique beer gets its uncharacteristic-for-style red color from its mix of Pils, Vienna and Carafa II malts. One of the few single-hop beers at the festival, Mt. Hood hops are added at 90, 80, 60, 40, 20 and 0 minutes prior to the end of the boil for a moderately bittered and hop-flavored Cologne-style beer. Rock Bottom is located just a few stumbles away from the festival grounds. It puts together a wide-ranging lineup of interesting, well-made beers to complement its informal American cuisine and a lively bar scene. Under the direction of Charlie Hutchins, the brewers have wide latitude to create inventive brews such as Swan Island Lager and Volksweizen Wheat.
Russian River Brewing Co. Santa Rosa CA www.rrbeer.com Row 2 / Hill 56 – The Story of Simcoe American-Style Strong Pale Ale 5.8 ABV 40 IBU There are only three farms in the world that grow Simcoe hops. This brew uses all three of them in different parts of the boil to tell the “Story of Simcoe.” IdaPils, Maris Otter, Crystal 20 and Crystal 40 malts set the stage for the story to be told, and California Ale Yeast spins the fermentation part of the tale. Now comes the big finish – in your mug. Russian River is an award-winning brewery from Sonoma County that also gives back to its community via a number of charitable events. The pub has become a community gathering place as well as a beer tourism destination. Demand for Russian River is greater than the supply, but the brewery prefers to grow its business organically while focusing on efficiencies and quality. For now, it is easier to make better beer than it is to make more beer!
Upright Brewing Co. Portland OR www.uprightbrewing.com Upright Alt 4.5 ABV 30 IBU This rich, dark malt-forward beer gets its deep color and malty flavors from pale, medium caramel, Vienna and chocolate malts. Moderately hopped with German spalt hops, its soft hop palate gets a flavor boost from a careful treatment of minerals added to Portland’s soft Bull Run water to give it a more authentic old-world mouthfeel. Upright Brewing specializes in farmhouse inspired beers rooted in France and Belgium but made with local ingredients and a Pacific Northwest twist. The name is a reference to Charles Mingus, a musician whose compositions defy categorization. Upright uses a special saison yeast and open fermenters to produce beers that are a true hybrid style, sharing Mingus’ spirit of exercising creativity and craft.
Vertigo Brewing Hillsboro OR www.vertigobrew.com Tropical Blonde Fruit Beer 5.1 ABV 15 IBU 100% Key Lime juice gives this unusual beer its unique sweet citrus taste. This medium-strength beer was brewed from Gambrinus 2-Row pale, Rahr wheat, Crystal 10 and Cara Foam malts with flaked barley in the grist. Noble Czech Saaz hops bitter the wort, with Mt. Hoods added at 15 and 30 minutes before knockout for flavor and aroma. Vertigo Brewing was founded in 2008 as Hillsboro’s first nano brewery. Vertigo now produces about 50 barrels per month on its recently installed seven bbl system. Co-founders Mike Haines and Michael Kinion’s passion for brewing outstanding craft beer continues to thrive as their brewery continues to grow. Their beer can now be found in bottles as well as on draft throughout NW Oregon.
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. Portland OR www.widmerbrothers.com Smooth Cream-N-Ale Specialty Beer 5 ABV 25 IBU The Brothers W always come up with something new for the OBF and this 25th year is no exception. Lemon zest, ginger and milk sugar give this beer a light, spicy flavor and aroma designed to quench thirst on a hot summer’s day while entertaining your taste buds. Pale malt, flaked barley and Carapils generate the golden wort, hopped with Alchemy and Mt. Hood hops. You might suspect other forms of alchemy are at work here as well, turning malt and spices into this golden ale! What started as a dream for two ordinary brothers who loved beer has become a reality for two ordinary brothers who still love beer. Kurt and Rob Widmer helped lead the Pacific Northwest craft beer movement in 1984 when they dreamed of brewing American interpretations of authentic European style beers. The result is a beer industry success story that has yet to be rivaled.
25th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon Main entrance at S.W. Oak Street and Naito Parkway
July 26-29, 2012 — “Always the last full weekend in July”
Thurs through Sat, taps are open from Noon to 9 p.m.
Sun, taps are open from Noon to 7 p.m.
Token & mug sales close one-half hour prior to the taps shutting off
Admission into the festival grounds is free. In order to consume beer, purchase of a 2012 souvenir mug is required and costs $6. Mugs from previous years will not be filled. Beer is purchased with wooden tokens. Tokens cost $1 apiece. Patrons pay four tokens for a full 14 oz. mug of beer, or one token for a 3-oz. taste.
The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s longest running and best loved craft beer festivals. Situated on the west bank of the Willamette River, with towering Mt. Hood as a backdrop, it is the ideal venue for anyone who loves craft beer. With a laid back attitude and scores of award-winning beers, the festival reflects the essence of the city of Portland.
The Oregon Brewers Festival exists to provide an opportunity to sample and learn about a variety of craft beer styles from across the country. Eighty craft breweries from all parts of the nation offer more than 20 styles of handcrafted brews to 80,000 beer lovers during the four-day event. A Buzz Tent offers another 50+ rare and specialty beers.
The festival’s focus is craft beer, but there’s more than sampling involved. The event features live music, beer-related vendors, beer memorabilia displays, beer writers and publishers, homebrewing demonstrations, and an assortment of foods from a variety of regions. The Crater Lake Root Beer Garden offers complimentary handcrafted root beer for minors and designated drivers. Minors are always welcome at the festival when accompanied by a parent.
The Oregon Brewers Festival strongly encourages responsible drinking, and urges patrons to take advantage of the MAX Light Rail line, located just one block west of the festival on SW Oak Street. Go by bus, train or taxi, just don’t drink and drive. The festival also offers free, on-site bicycle parking
This post was written by Angelo on July 26, 2012