I just received an email from North American Breweries (NAB) (the company that controls Portland Brewing/Pyramid/Magic Hat/Labatts/Seagrams Escapes etc etc) about an interesting new festival coming up at the NW Portland brewery. The 1st Annual Smoked Beer Brew Fest (“beer brew fest”? A little redundant but okay) is if nothing else a seemingly good cause to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Happening on July 13, the event runs from noon until 5pm.
In addition to featuring smoked beers from local breweries – none of which are specified in the release or the event site – the fest promises local vendors, a vintage fire truck, food pairings, food trucks, and activities for kids. Hmmm. Okay. I’ve been to a few brew fests hosted by Pyramid/Portland Brewing in their parking lot in the far reaches of Portland’s NW Industrial area. None were very well attended, but I am hoping for the sake of the benefactors that this one will be an improvement. However, I do feel a little skeptical considering there appears to be no breweries and beers in place currently (or at least not listed) and the posters are up and the tickets are on sale.
One of the best events in recent memory, and one that involves smoked beer as well as chili beer, has been Fire & Brimstone hosted collectively by The Hop & Vine and Saraveza on Killingsworth Street in North Portland. These smaller and more intimate craft beer-centric venues have a cult following with the diehard beer and foodie crowd. MacTarnahan’s Taproom? Not so sure. Now, listen, it’s not my objective to bag on anyone here or to draw and conclusions, but as a festival goer I am not sure of the interest this event will generate. Will I still attend? Yes. But here is where my skeptism lies: This venue is not the ultimate destination for craft beer geeks, and selecting a general style such as rauch/smoked beer doesn’t seem to be what most laymen and laywomen are likely to want to quaff. Smoky beers are abrasive to most. I must admit, as a full-blown craft beer enthusiast who just polished off a few older vintages of Alaskan Smoked Porter, I don’t find most smoky beers to be very regularly approachable. Still, I could be way off base here. I hope I am. I really want to know what beers will be pouring. I often don’t commit to purchasing tickets to a beer festival without at very least knowing some of the breweries who are pouring at it. My guess is that there will obviously be beer from Portland/Pyramid Brewing, Alaskan Smoked Porter, a few helles lagers from…hmmm…who’s making a smoked beer right now? Rock Bottom? I don’t see breweries like Breakside, Gigantic, or The Commons participating in a multinational company’s event, but maybe I am wrong because it is in affiliation with other local brewers and benefits a worthy cause. Most beer fests double as benefits for charities and not-for-profits. This helps get around the permitting side of things. The theme here with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation seems venerable on the surface. I wonder what cut they will get and how much money will get raised…
I know a lot has changed at Portland/Pyramid/etc etc over the years (now they are a Costa Rican owned company) but one things seems to remain – the beer is solid but the marketing and branding continues to be less than stalwart. A few excellent brewers are still working at the facility and I tip my hat to their brewing prowess, but the identity of the company, which is mostly masked in the promotion of this event, has been less than luring to the locals who demand locally owned and branded.
I hope my doubts are washed away like a blast of a mighty fire hose, but I must admit, thinking about these sort of things gets me fired up!
Beer Tasting Tickets: Can be purchased in advance for $20 atwww.PDXSmokedBrewFest.EventBrite.com and include a “Smoked Beer Brew Fest” glass. Tickets may also be purchased at the event, but will not include the glassware.
More info has arrived from the brewery about beers pouring. Here goes:
Below are the confirmed breweries. We have handful of other breweries who just aren’t official confirmed, so they aren’t listed.
Confirmed Breweries/Smoked Beer:
- Old Town Brewing – Smoked IRIA 7.4% ABV, 80 IBUs
- Base Camp Brewing Company – Rauch the Boat Rauchbier 5.1% ABV, 16 IBUs
- Burnside Brewing – Collaboration with Portland Brewing Co. 6.3% ABV, 88 IBUs
- Portland Brewing Co. – Noble Scot 6.5% ABV, 80 IBUs
- Hopworks Urban Brewery – Beer TBD
- Walking Man Brewing – Beer TBD
- Laurelwood Brewing Co. – Beer TBD
- Occidental Brewing Co. – Beer TBD
Each brewery will be serving a second, limited release beer as well.
The goal of this event is to showcase a unique style as well as connect with our local community. Many of our brewers and other participating breweries’ staff are volunteer firefighters, so this cause is near and