There's a battle of Belgians brewing this weekend. A prominent Oregon brewery, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, backed out of one of Portland's premiere beer festivals just two days before the event, while scheduling a rival tasting across town.
Portland's once-quirky and much-beloved Cheers to Belgian Beers, an event started by Belgian-focused local brewers but now run by the Brewers Guild trade association, made some big changes this year.
"They've mutilated it into something that serves their interests," says Logsdon Farmhouse Ales' owner, Hood River's Dave Logsdon.
Rather than use a single yeast strain picked by the winner of the prior year's drinker-selected People's Choice award, and brewing a style of beer determined by a dart throw at the Horse Brass pub, Oregon brewers will simply pour whatever Belgian beer they feel like pouring. And rather than voting to pick a favorite, attendees at this weekend's event will simply drink what they're served and discuss it amongst themselves.
That last bit—the cancelation of the People's Choice award—was too much for Logsdon, whose brewery has twice won the People's Choice prize. He announced via Facebook that he was skipping the festival, which runs tonight and tomorrow afternoon at Metalcraft Fabrication on North Tillamook Street.
Instead, Logsdon will host a free tasting at Southeast's Belmont Station from 2-7 pm, which just added a large patio and food cart serving respectable Philly-style Italian grub.
They're calling the event Belmont's Cheers to Logsdon's Beers and they're bringing the big guns: free samples of Peche 'N' Brett, a very limited brew that uses fresh peaches by the pound and has become one of Oregon's most sought beers.
"We selected the yeast strain and they took that away, which rubbed me the wrong way. And then they took the dart throw away, which bothered me. But just this week we got word that they were taking the People's Choice award away, and that's when I pretty much decided to boycott the festival," says Logsdon. "I support my Guild, but they've watered down the fest to the point that it's pretty much just to the benefit of the Guild and I don't feel it's in my best interest to be donating beer for their benefit—it just puts a bad taste in my mouth."
Reached by phone, Brewers Guild Executive Director Brian Butenschoen declined to comment, saying that he is too busy setting up this weekend's event.