Event Review: 17th Annual Spring Beer and Wine Fest

April 28, 2011

Last weekend, my husband and some friends of ours all went to the 17th Annual Spring Beer and Wine Fest held at the Oregon Convention Center.

This event is organized differently than most beer or wine festivals we go to. Most of them have a standard starter entry fee, which includes entry, a glass, and some tasting tokens.  This one offered free admission to the first 1,000 people each day (down from the first two hours last year). Then, you decide what kind of glass you want to purchase. There were three options: a beer glass, traditional plastic festival tasting mug, or stemless wine glass. Thing is, last year there was a problem in that either you had to buy two separate glasses for drinking beer or wine in, but this year they said that anything could be served in the beer glass or the plastic mug, but just wine in the stemless wine glass. Another thing: I got to looking at the cheaper plastic mug from last year and decided to bring it with me this time. I figured there was no year on it, so even if the ink was changed, most vendors wouldn’t even notice (there are a lot of festivals that change the ink, logo, or both to force you into buying a new plastic mug each year). When we got there, we realized it was the same exact mug as last year. $5 saved. After you buy the mug, you buy tokens for $1 each, which is pretty standard.

I always say there is a little bit of something for everyone at this festival: beer, wine, cider, hard alcohol, cheese, chocolate, olive oil, food, and even some jewelry. Here is a little bit of what I had:

  • I started off with Wandering Aengus Ciders, opting to have their Hopped Anthem Cider (technically called a graf), which I had never had before. I’ve been a little nervous about it since I’m not a hop fan, but this was subtly done as to not lose the cider flavor, and I really liked it.
  • The only other ciders represented was Crispin Cider /Foxbarrel Cider and Woodchuck Cider. I’ve had them before and I’m underwhelmed, so the only cider I had was a blackberry pear cider from Foxbarrel, partly because I needed to use up tokens at the end of the day.
  • My husband got a coconut brown ale from Kona Brewing Company that he felt had too much coconut, so I ended up finishing it. I did taste other beers of his, but I didn’t keep track of what they were.
  • The only beer I used a token on was for Gilgamesh Mamba. This beer is made with black tea, tangerines, and no hops, so there is zero IBU.  I sort of had mixed feelings about this beer, as black tea contains tannins, so it had an interesting mouth feel that I was never completely sure about.
  • I discovered a new winery that makes fruit wines named HV Cellars. I had their pomegranate wine, which wasn’t bad.
  • Nehalem Bay Winery was back, and I had their blackberry wine. I found it to be sweet, which was kind of disappointing. A good dry blackberry wine can be a lot like a red wine.
  • Noble Estate Vineyard and Winery had a mucat, pinot gris, and pinot noir blend they called “passion.”  I commented that it was a nice semi-sweet wine, and that I like muscat. The server (maybe the owner) told me about all the awards the muscat and Riesling wines got at that event, and then proceeded to pour me the muscat for free! It was good, but sweet, so I would recommend the passion wine first.
  • I had a raspberry flavored sprakling wine from Spangler Vineyards that I wasn’t too keen on (granted, I’m not a huge raspberry fan).
  • I was kind of excited to see Saké One there. The saké maker was pouring, so I mentioned I liked their flavored sakés, and he suggested I have their premixed sakitini. It was cranberry, mint, and lemonade, and it was medium dry, so it was really quite refreshing yet not tart. I snagged the recipe.
  • From the free hard alcohols to try, I had a pepper infused vodka from Bend Distillery that was okay, seeing as how I’m just okay with vodka, and everybody had a vodka there, including a mint infused vodka called Lavishmint from Liquid Vodka.
  • Duker’s Dill Hot Pickles was a hit among our group, though we did wonder if any of us would really enjoy eating a whole pickle. Like, the sample was tasty, but would a whole pickle be too much and become too hot?
  • There were several booths for olives and olive oil, including the Olive Branch.
  • Flavored pretzels from Vibrant Flavors.
  • Some wonderful flavored soft caramels from Indulge. I really liked the curry coconut caramel, though the ginger caramel was nice and subtle.
  • I got some little Brazilian cheese breed balls from BraziBites. They were okay, and we suspect they are only really good when warm. I should add that part of the reason I tried them was that it was made from a gluten free mix.
  • It was no surprise that I got some garlic cheddar cheese curds from Rogue Creamery.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the event, though it did seem a little bit more “expensive” than last year, as I passed on some cheeses, chocolates, or hard alcohol tastings because I felt that what they were giving for $1 was not worth it. However, some of the wineries kind of made up for it, as their normal tastings would have been 50 cents, so they were double pouring. I had a pretty good day.

Last year’s reviews:


3 Responses to “Event Review: 17th Annual Spring Beer and Wine Fest”

  1. […] I had American Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider (a Crispin company), which I had reviewed before. This was followed by the cherry and pear Anthem cider from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, also […]

  2. […] Where: Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR Package: $20 for admission, wine glass or plastic beer mug, and 10 tokens Admission: first 1,000 people are free each day, otherwise $5 each Cup: $5-$8 depending on if you want plastic or glass (though there are ways around this). Extra Tokens: $1 Tastings: varies Kid friendly: allowed until 7pm Review […]

  3. […] as he doesn’t use as much water. I did not try his blackberry port. The second one I had was from Nehalem Bay, which I had had a few years ago. It was thinner and sweeter. The last one I had was from Buddha Kat Winery, who bought out the […]

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