2013 Portland Cheers To Belgian Beers Preview

Wallace Working the Maletis Beverage Truck

By D.J. Paul

The 7th installment of the Oregon Brewers Guild’s  “Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers” is upon us here in North Portland. For the 3rd consecutive year the recently expanded Metalcraft Fabrication is hosting this annual event showcasing the regions best examples of Belgian inspired beers.  It’s a setting that I really enjoy; attendees can get a first hand look at the process of the manufacturing process of what it takes to build a craft brewery.

Over the past 7 years, Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers has grown from the humble beginnings at Rock Bottom to become the much larger festival that it is today. In years past the Oregon Brewers Guild held a dart throw contest for the breweries to see which Belgian style of beer they were allowed to brew. All this was based on a single yeast style that was chosen from the previous years “People’s Choice” winning beer. Well this year comes with some changes. The organizers allowed breweries to enter any Belgian Style beer with whichever yeast strain they wanted to use. Yes, some of the more fun experimental aspects of the festival may have been lost but overall better quality beers should be more the norm this year.

The fest itself kicked off last night with a 3-hour showcase from 5:30-8:30. This year the organizers changed the Friday night preview of the past two years that featured a dinner of mussels that came with the ticket price. This seemed to keep the crowds down a bit.  With this change of offering only the normal festival ticket package meant that there was a greater amount of attendees yet the fest was very manageable.

John Maier Bobblehead

With a short 3-hour time window, my beer selections had to be more strategic. Upon entering the more maze like entry I took notice to Rogues John Maier bobblehead and its accompanying tap handle. Their festival offering is the marketing enhanced Beard Beer, the beer supposedly brewed with yeast that was cultured from Maier’s beard. Getting past the gross out factor, the beer was quite enjoyable for a lighter Belgian Golden.

The next beer to be had was Oakshire Brewing’s Bier de Mars. This 100% Brettanomyces Lambicus beer was my favorite of the evening. The nice golden hue along with its Brett character was a very enjoyable beer. Hair of the Dog Brewing’s Belgian Beer Geek was next on the list. This Belgian Ale offered up hints of oak and as the beer warmed up its characteristics changed, definitely one worth sampling.

Cheers to Belgian Beers Crowd

Beyond these three beers, some of the other highlights were Widmer Brother Brewing’s Entendre Saison, Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Organic Apple Ale, The Commons Brewery’s Emilie, and McMenamins Crystal Brewery’s Saisons in the Abyss.

The complete beer list can be found here.

Noticeably absent this year is Block 15 and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, some of the best brewers for this Belgian style and former “People’s Choice” winners. I also would have expected Crux Brewing to be at the festival.

Even without these breweries this is one of the must attend events to kick off the upcoming warmer months that lie ahead. I’m looking forward to returning again today to sample more of the beers that I could not get to last night.

Josh Pfriem Pouring Matt Van Wyk a Beer

Festival Details:

Saturday April 20th, 2013


Metalcraft Fabrication

723 N Tillamook St.

Portland, OR

Admission is free- 21+ only-$15 for five drink tickets and a stemmed tasting glass, which is required to taste. ?$20 for ten drink tickets and a stemmed tasting glass which is required to taste. This year there will be no one yeast strain – breweries will send their best Belgian-style Ale. Additional tastes are $1 and can be purchased at the festival entrance. Glass sales end at 7pm. Ticket sales end at 7:30pm. Only one sample per person at one time and we will only be doing sample size pours i.e. no full glasses. Some of these beers are very strong so don’t drink on an empty stomach and drink plenty of water. Food is being served by KOI Fusion on Saturday from Noon-6pm. Tents and seating outside. If you need to pick up some official Timbers Army merchandise for the match on Sunday, the No Pity Van will be onsite as well.  People are encouraged to take public transportation (the TriMet Bus Line 35 stops 1 block away and the Yellow Max Line stops 2 and 3 blocks away).  Parking is available on the street between Broadway and N. Graham St.  Bike Parking supplied by Bike Racker.

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