Portland International Brew Fest 2011 Part I
July 18, 2011
My husband and I went to opening day of the Portland International Beerfest. It was an expensive one, with entry tickets being $25 each, which gave us a small tasting glass and 10 tasting tickets. Additional tickets were $1 each, and a four ounce sample cost between 1-7 tickets, depending on the original price of the beer. Oh, and I know from last year that the glass will chip in the dishwasher.
This is a festival to try international beer, which, of course, I personally did not spend any tickets on. I stuck to cider, though Mountain Meadow Meads was there at 3-4 tickets a pour. The festival was arranged by draft or by bottle, with all of the servers being volunteers who then get a free t-shirt, free admission, and tickets as payment. This meant that if you had questions, too bad, because these people had nothing to do with the production of what they were serving.
I started with a 2 ticket American cider, Landowne from Crispin. It was sweet and had notes of licorice and butterscotch, and reminded me of those hard candies that come in little round tins. My husband meanwhile managed to get a dark Norwegian beer called Nøgne Ø Horizon 3 actually had the same butterscotch notes, but was much more intense and felt wildly unbalanced compared to the Crispin Landowne.
Next, 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 previously reviewed. All of this was on draft and cost a ticket.
My fifth taste was a three ticket beer called La Choulette Framboise, which was described as an raspberry farmhouse ale from France with 6.2% ABV and 10 IBU. I found it quite pleasant, and my husband said it was very balanced between the fruit and the beer.
I finally got around to an international cider for my next tasting. All of the international ciders were from Aspall Cider, which I can find easily bottled in any grocery store, so I opted to have the only one offered on draft, which was the three ticket Cuvee Chevallier. It was a semi-dry cider to my taste, and looking at the unnatural 11% ABV on a cider, they must have added sugar at some process to get the ABV that high. It did feel like a French style, which then made me sad as I realized that all of the domestic ciders there were flavored ciders and all of them sweet, and it just seemed gimmicky and not a true representation of the domestic cider production. No wonder beer drinkers are sometimes put off by cider if what tastings they have at festivals are all sweet.
One other thing to note was that I purchased a cheese plate from Rouge Creamery. All the cheeses were made by them, which had a mild goat cheese ash washed brie like cheese that I actually liked, a hard rind mystery cheese, something like a smoked gouda that was excellent, and a garlic curd cheese that totally blew the taste buds out with the garlic. I actually went and told the booth that everything was quite good, but the garlic curd was not appropriate for a tasting.
Overall, we spent about two hours there this year, and didn’t come back a second day like we did last year. Maybe I’ve been doing these beer festivals too long and things are starting to look the same to me, but I was not impressed with either the domestic ciders or the international cider selection and may pass on spending the $25 next year.