The Oregon Brewers Festival is now well underway. I dropped by yesterday afternoon and made it through 23 beers. Here are my unabridged tasting note. Think I'm totally wrong about these beers? I'm eager to hear what you thought of them.
BEERS I LIKED
Ninkasi Helles Belles: Munchener Style Helles Lager
Unlike Ninkasi's big-bodied knockout beers that we all know and love, this light, citrusy lager is pleasant, easy drinkin'. I'd buy a case for a barbecue.
Upright Brewing Offen Weisse: Bavarian Hefeweizen
A nice break from Upright's usual Belgians, this crisp, lightly sour brew has hints of spice and bananas.
Full Sail Jimvar Bohemian Pilsner: Bohemian Pilsner
A soft pilsner with a beautiful foamy head and yogurt on the nose. A little slimy on the finish, like Czechvar, but in a good way.
Ft. George Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale
Another excellent beer from the Astoria brewery, with a strong thyme-y nose from the Amarillo hops and a touch of bubblegum on the finish.
Boundary Bay Dry Hopped Glacier Pale: American Pale Ale
My favorite beer from this year's festival, this nice, balanced pale smells like cinnamon and sarsaparilla.
Prodigal Son Brewery Bruce/Lee Porter
The festival debut of a new brewery in Pendleton. This is a really good, uncomplicated, mild-tasting porter, with a hint of cocoa nibs on the finish. Watch out, though—this one's 8 percent alcohol but tastes more like 5. It'll mess you up.
FiftyFifty Brewing Donner Party Porter: American Style Imperial Porter
My notes on this 8.5 ABV monster read, in total, "Fucking rich!!!" I should have taken this as a sign to stop drinking. I did not.
Elysian Brewing Idiot Sauvin: "New Zealand IPA"
Given the kiwis' wine proclivities, I expected this one to taste like grapefruit. It doesn't—just a crisp, clean IPA.
Hop Valley Brewing Co. Alpha Centauri: Double IPA
They threw all the hops in this one, presumably to hide the 8.6 percent alcohol. For when you want to get very wasted on a summer afternoon.
Bison Brewing Honey Basil Ale: Summer Ale
Clover honey and organic basil sound like a terrible thing to do to a beer, but neither flavor is especially pronounced. It reminded me of a light ginger beer.
Amnesia Brewing Dopacetic: Imperial IPA
Great body, Munich malt out the wazoo. Surprisingly unhoppy. 7.8 ABV. Good stuff!
BEERS I DID NOT LIKE
Collaborator Hopfinium: "India Pale Lager"
There's no such style as India Pale Lager, and this beer is not a good argument that there should be. It's not bad, but the strong hops and lager yeast taste like Bizarro World beer. The chivey bite of the hops fill your head and linger for a very long time. Your palate is toast after this one.
Burnside Brewing Grätzer: Grätzer
Burnside revived an extinct Polish style of smoked beer for this brew, which smells like barbecue and tastes like applewood-smoked bacon. I don't care for smoky beer, but this one is lighter and less unpleasant than most rauchbiers.
Boneyard Beer Girl Beer: Fruit Beer
Brewed with cherry puree, this pale, 5 IBU concoction of the newest brewery in Bend is pleasant enough, but I think it's been oversold. Neither pink nor especially sweet, it was inoffensive when I thought it would be undrinkable. I'd still rather drink a kölsch, though. Just not...
Gilgamesh Brewing Mint Kölsch
It's lemon-mint iced tea, with a head. A very strange product, but not nearly so strange as...
Dogfish Head Black & Red: Raspberry Mint Imperial Stout
A "dry-minted" abomination that smells like those chocolate-peppermint candies you get with the check at bad restaurants and tastes like mouthwash. The flavor lingers like an unwanted house guest.
Columbia River Brewing Nyctophobia IPA
I'm not a fan of Cascadian Dark Ales, which always make me feel like I've eaten a 32 ounce steak, but this is a pretty good example of the form. My drinking companions liked it much better than I did.
Lagunitas Brewing A Little Sumpin' Wild: Belgian Strong Pale
Lagunitas took their ubiquitous wheat ale and made it sour. I got cherry and allspice. One weird brew.
Beer Valley Jackalope Imperial Pumpkin Porter: Pumpkin Beer
This oddity tastes as if someone took a glass of nice, dry porter and dropped a hunk of raw spaghetti squash in it. It's not pumpkin pie beer, which is good—there are too many novelty dessert beers on the market already—but I would like it much, much better without the squashy flavor.
Coalition Brewing Wu C.R.E.A.M.: Cream Ale
This was nearly the last beer of the afternoon. It might have been very good, but if so I was in no condition to taste it. I found it a little sweet, and nothing else.
Golden Valley Cote d'Or: Belgian Golden Ale
Rogue 22 Ale: Belgian Golden Ale
Smells like bananas.
Deschutes Gluten Free NWPA: Northwest Pale Ale
The best gluten-free beer I've ever tasted. Still can't hold a candle to real beer.