I'll be the first to admit that I have bad taste in beer. When confronted with the tap selection at a Portland microbrewery, sometimes I find myself pining for a nice Miller High Life or similar beer of ill repute.
So I felt a little out of my element at the North American Organic Brewers Festival
today, where thousands of beer connoisseurs swished fine organic ales around compostable cups, held pilsners up to the light and debated things like “nose “and “mouthfeel.” By the time I reached the bottom of the first IPA, however, I was ready to leave the Budweisers of my youth behind me.
Over 30 breweries brought 55 of their finest beers to the Overlook Park
, and I went in with the intention of trying everything. My ambition petered out at the same pace as my sobriety, though, so I only got around to 14 or so. Here are the fine selections that made the biggest impression:
Ambacht Golden Rye Ale
: I'd never had a rye beer before—this one tastes like a nice slice of sourdough bread that makes you tipsy.
Fort George Quick Wit:
Orange corriander taste in a Belgian-style wheat. My notes read simply “orangey!” with a sloppy doodle of me high-fiving an orange wearing sunglasses.
Upright Brewing Rose City Seven/Barrel Aged Saison:
Goes down nice with hints of rosemary and vanilla, but watch out for the stealth 8.2 percent alcohol factor.
Laurelwood Organic Green Elephant IPA:
THE BEST BEER I'VE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE! It tastes like every hop in the state of Oregon was harvested and brewed into my cup. And with that, the even hoppier Laurelwood Green Mammoth became my holy grail. Hops, where have you been all my life?
Santa Cruz Coffee Porter:
Where I once employed Four Loko (the caffeinated malt preferred by meth-heads everywhere) for my energy/alcohol needs, now I might go with this. Delicious iced coffee taste with a nice buzz.
MateVeza Black Lager
: I see what they tried to do here. Brewed with Yerba Mate, it tastes a little like Nestle Quik with fruit in it. A little too unconventional for me, although my judgment was a little blurry by this point.
Laht Neppur Strawberry Cream Ale
: My notes read “I wouldn't piss on this beer if it was on fire. This is just a sad, sad state of affairs.” I think this is the kind of beer you drink with dessert, but I honestly can't imagine it tasting good in any context where war rationing wasn't involved.
There you have it, a small sampling of what's available today and tomorrow at the North American Organic Brewer's Festival
. Go down to the Overlook Park, try them all, and succeed where I failed!
Overlook Park, North Fremont Street and Interstate Avenue., . Noon-9 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday June 26-27. Free entry. Tasting cup is $6, samples are $1 each.