Review: 2012 Portland Beer and Cheese Fest

June 21, 2012

This past weekend, my husband Burtle and I attended the Portland Beer and Cheese Fest, also organized by the Portland Cheese Bar (who also did the Ultimate Cheese Challenge) and hosted at the Commons Brewery. For $25, we each got a glass and a punch card to go to the 10 beer tastings with 1 oz piece of cheese per beer (10 oz of cheese total = more than half a pound of cheese). This time, we were not given fancy plates or tasting books, just paper plates.

The punch card had a suggested order in which to try things, organized by beer. The pairings included:

  1. Solera Berlinerweiss/Grisette Blend with Sartori Ballavitano cheese. The beer was sour, and the cheese was an aged cows milk cheese. The Solera beer ended up being our favorite beer, and I thought it was a decent pairing.
  2. Upright Brewing Offen Weisse and Montina cheese. The beer was a little more hoppy with some toasted notes and clove. The cheese was a milder creamy cow’s milk cheese that ended up being Burtle’s favorite cheese. I also thought this was a decent pairing.
  3. Gigantic Rauchweizen and the Bandit with Willamette Valley Chese Co Brindisi cheese. I found this beer to be a tad hoppy, smokey, with a little bit of citrus. The cow’s milk cheese was a tad different, as it was a little grassy and the texture had some crystal spots. Burtle was not thrilled with either the beer or the cheese on their own, but was impressed as a pairing.
  4. Double Mountain Das Boot Alt and Tumalo Farm Pondhopper. The beer used floral smelling hops. Surprisingly, this was the only goat cheese of the event. Not surprisingly, I didn’t like it.
  5. Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale with Abbaye de Belloc cheese. The beer was a little hoppy with some smoke. The sheep’s milk cheese was soft and creamy with a little bit of nut. Burtle was a little surprised he liked the cheese better than the beer, as he was there for the beer while I was there for the cheese.
  6. The Commons Flemish Kiss with Samish Bay Aged Ladysmith cheese. This was a pale ale with some bret funk. The cows’s milk cheese was a soft cheese with a hard rind that was a tad sweet yet a little sour, like the pH may have been lower than what one is used to.
  7. Hopworks Abbey Ale with Uniekaas Vintage Grande Ewe. The beer was hoppy, a tad malty, and a little sweet. The cow’s milk cheese was creamy with a nutty aged flavor. I think if I had liked the beer, this would have been a good pairing.
  8. Oakshire Perfect Storm with Hook’s 5-Year Cheddar. It was an IPA paired with a cows milk cheese. I actually was not impressed with this cheese, like it had peaked.
  9. Widmer Brewing Pitch Black IPA with Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue cheese. I don’t like IPAs, and I don’t like blue cheese. In fact, I just took a tiny taste off of Burtle’s cheese rather than get my own.
  10. Block 15 Figgy Pudding and Colston-Basset Stilton. I thought we had had the Figgy Pudding before at the Holiday Ale Festival, which it turns out the “one off” version that goes to the festival is this but with bret (Burtle likes the bret version better). However, at this point, I decided I would just have some out of Burtle’s glass, and I took a much smaller bite out of the blue cheese.

I should also add that I didn’t finish any of the beer, and started asking for short pours. My biggest complaint was also that there were not that many surfaces to set things down on. It was hard to drink from the glass and then get the cheese into your mouth while holding a plate. Also, somebody was actually surprised I was taking notes.

Burtle asked me at the end to state my favorites, and I realized two things. First, my cheese vocabulary is limited, and from my notes I used the same words over and over again: aged, creamy/hard, nutty, and grassy. As a result (or was it the cause of the cheese?), unless the cheese was really different like goats milk, blue cheese, and cheddar, I was having a hard time remembering them. They all looked alike on paper. I couldn’t name a best cheese. Maybe I just needed to have a cheese tasting in order to have a favorite? Secondly, due to me not really caring for beer despite all the festivals I go to, I had a hard time this time naming a good pairing. It is hard to vote for a pairing when you aren’t thrilled with the beer.

Burtle asked me which event I liked better, this one or the Ultimate Cheese Challenge? This one had a one to one pairing ratio, which did make things less overwhelming. However, it was more difficult to dodge something you knew you weren’t going to care for (goats milk or blue cheese for me, extra aged cheddar for Burtle) as there was no alternative.

We have been to a lot of beer fests, but actually adding on the cheese kind of changed the vibe a little into feeling more like a wine tasting. Some may miss interpret this as being snooty or something, but it wasn’t. It is hard for me to explain other than to say the obnoxious frat cry was definitely gone. I think it was a good vibe.

Further reading:


2 Responses to “Review: 2012 Portland Beer and Cheese Fest”

  1. […] Once again, it is June, which is dairy month! I haven’t been writing so much recently, but this month has me booked for three events, including a beer and cheese fest. […]

  2. […] ticket prices went up from when we went last year, from $25 to $32, but this is the second year, so it could have been adjusted for better cost […]

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