Portland Fruit Beer Festival 2012

June 11, 2012

We returned to the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, which they are now holding the second weekend of June, which happens to coincide with the Portland Grand Floral Parade, and is in fact blocks away from the route, so parking is difficult. This is the second year this event was put on, hosted by Burnside Brewery. This year, they were more prepared. Last year, they had issues with running out of beer, but it looked like they were ready for a massive crowd, and they even were allowed to shut down a part of the street for more room. With a parade going on, what is one more street? The quality of beer was also better. Last year, it kind of seemed like fruit was just added all hodge podge, but this year, you could tell that the brewers had been thinking it over on what to make. The quality was also better in that regards.

This was a festival of “one offs,” meaning that drinks there were a onetime thing. There was only two or three things there that you could actually find in a bottle for sale in the world, and the rest of the beers had been created for just this event. There was a tent of rare beers that were two tickets, and the rest were one ticket. However, after a little bit of being there, two veteran breweries that were originally one ticket decided they should be two tickets. Maybe they didn’t have enough, but at the same time, it was insulting and unfair to the others.

Fruit Beer Fest glass

For $20, you would get 10 tasting tickets and the same glass as last year. We actually paid $5 extra each to get VIP tickets, which basically meant we got in at 10am instead of 11am. Part of the reason I did it was because Bushwhacker Cider said they would have one of their ciders in the special rare taps tent. They were also supposed to have another one made with caramel, and Reverend Nat Revival Cider was supposed to have two ciders, but when we left around 1:30pm, none of those had made an appearance at the tent, as they were waiting for kegs to blow (which shows a little more control on the organizer’s part). The only other cider there was 2 Towns with their Bad Apple. Burtle really loved this festival because there is also a lot of sour beers there.

Our tasting went like this:

  1. Bushwhacker’s Brookland Sour Cider with cherries, lacto, and allowed to age on oak. I found it to be okay and a little bit mellow. My husband Butle thought that my ciders are more tart than that, and he said he would rather be drinking my cider. I wonder if the oak mellowed it out too much? I was suffering from a cold, so I was having a hard time tasting this one.
  2. Burtle went for Bend Brewing Company’s Ching Ching, a German Berliner Weisse with pomegranate and hibiscus. He was a little disappointed in it, but I could actually taste it. It had a good nose, was a little sour, but was pleasant.
  3. I got Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Belgian What Up Apple-Weizen, to which I was disappointed. To me, it was just a Weizen with no apples and lots of cloves. It was a little thin, too. It was a good beer, but an idea from judging wines for the county fair popped into my head,  where you could have a good wine, but we are supposed to judge the wine according to what the winemaker labeled the bottle as the wine should be. This beer was mislabeled in my mind.
  4. Burtle’s turn, and he went and got Flat Tail Brewing Compnay’s Strawberry Mandarin Wit. I found it to be high in acid and sour with a little bit of fruit coming though. It had that fermented strawberry effect with a little bit of orange.
  5. Next up, I got Breakside Brewery’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, which they supposedly put intire pies into a golden ale. This was one of my favorites. It had a nice malty base without being burnt, then the 20 IBU would kick in on the end. I felt it could have been pulled back to 15 IBU, but there was actually a second ending of fruit that would cut the hops after a few seconds of drinking it.
  6. Burtle got Upright Brewing’s Levinator, described as a bock aged with Oregon black currants. It was tart, but not sour, and it was toasty but not burnt. I don’t often say this about a beer, but I commented that it was “rich,” like having too much rich food.
  7. It was my turn again, and I got the Bomb.com from Lompoc Brewing, and had my first “no” reaction. I couldn’t decide if it was more like a porter or brown, and I did not get any fruit (supposed to be cherry) on it. Burtle said it has hops and phenols that I wasn’t liking, and I poured it out.
  8. Burtle got his next beer from New Belgium Brewing, a Hip Hop Saison brewed with raspberries. I noticed the raspberries and commended that it was a tad sour.
  9. Beers #9 and #10 we actually planned on getting at the same time. Mine was the Raspberry Sour from 10 Barrel Brewing. I commented that it was sour and smooth.
  10. Burtle got the Boneyard Beer Company’s Femme Fatale, which was a raspberry tart ale. I should it to be more malty and less sour than the 10 Barrel Raspberry Sour. We ended up swapping glasses.
  11. I then got a Lychee Lager from Lucky Labrador and had my first bitter beer face of the day, so I poured it out. Too much hop for me?
  12. Burtle, liking coffee, then got Laurelwood Brewing Company’s Camera Obcura, which is a Belgian Style Dark ale/dubble with the cherry off of the coffee bean. It was okay in my book, but I think coffee smells better than it tastes.
  13. I then go a Saigon Saison from The Commons Brewery, which the pourer said they used mango, lemongrass, and one other thing I didn’t catch. It was nice and smooth, though a tad hoppy for me at 16 IBU. It had a little clove taste, but it complimented instead of detracted. Burtle said that is probably the best Saisons he has ever had, and he isn’t terribly thrilled with Saisons.
  14. Burtle got a beer from the special taps that was a Saison with brett bacteria in it from Logston Farmhouse. I didn’t care for it, and thought I detected cherries and vomit. Burtle says that some people to detect brett as vomit.
  15. I got a Whack and Unwrap beer next from Oakshire Brewing. This porter is suppose to be like the candy, in this case, with orange. There was orange on the nose, but not in the beer, which was actually probably a good thing. This ended up being Burtle’s favorite beer of the festival and he took it from me.
  16. I then took Burtle’s empty glass and got Burnside Brewing’s Red Light District beer, which was an imperial stout made with chocolate and strawberries. I thought it was okay and toasty, though at the time I was a little surprised Burtle didn’t care for it. Looking at my notes, I realized he still would have been drinking the Whack and Unwrap.
  17. We were then joined by some acquaintances, so I lost track of Burtle’s oppinons on beers. Burtle went and got a Cherry Bourbon Renewable Porter from Ninkasi Brewing Company. At 38 IBU, my only written comments was, “Um…” I’ve never found beer that Ninkasi makes that I tolerate.
  18. For my last ticket, I just wanted to take it easy with 2 Towns Ciderhouse Bad Apple.
  19. Burtle went for Deschutes Brewery Extinction Stout with rapsberries. It was a stout to me.
  20. However, a friend of the acquaintances gave Burtle and I another ticket each. I got Block 15 Brewing Company’s Tropical Storm, which was a kind of saison with sugar, hops, papaya, and age in wine barrels. My only written notes say, “phenols.”
  21. Burtle got the Hubkleberry Hound from Alameda Brewing Company, which was a IPA with 55 IBU. I hated it.
  22. My absolute last taste came from the acquaintance getting Fort George Brewery’s South, a Strong ale aged in wine barrels and then aged on raspberries. The IBU was listed as “mild to medium bitterness,” and my notes were a big “No.”

So really, I had about 9-10 two ounce samples.

I asked Burtle if it was worth the extra $5 to go earlier, and he said yes. I think if he can keep his allergies under control, this will be a festival he will want to return to for two reasons: one offs and sour beers. Honestly, a lot of the beer fests we got to anymore are ones that only have one offs, as we find we get bored with the same beers year in and year out. For me with the Fruit Beer Festival, the fruit definitely does keep the IBU down, and I think there will be more cider popping up at this festival in the future.


3 Responses to “Portland Fruit Beer Festival 2012”

  1. Brettanomyces is actually a wild yeast strain. It’s associated with horse blanket, barnyard and other funky aromas. It’s a unique critter that’s starting to get popular with the sour/funky beer crowd.

  2. […] last Saturday, I went to the Portland Fruit Beer Festival for the thrid year in a row. We got there at about 11am, and because of the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade, parking was […]

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