June 27th, 2014 | Martin Cizmar Food & Drink | Posted In: Beer

How to Use Your Tickets at the North American Organic Beer Festival

There are 58 beers and ciders at this weekend's festival. How to get by without 58 tickets.

northamericanbeer20142014 North American Organic Beer Festival

Organic isn't just about you, man.

I'm only about halfway though Dan Barber's The Third Plate, which my associate Matthew Korfhage gushed over a few weeks back, but, so far, that's been the big takeaway. That book follows a chef from our drumstick-exporting nation of prime-cut protein fiends into a future of upcycled organ meat paired with wholesome throwback grains. In the process, he pretty much explodes the idea that organic agriculture is primarily about our own health. Rather, it's about the system. The good system, the natural system; not the bad system run by the man...

Oh, right, beer. Big ideas are fun, and it would be a little disappointing if you didn't stop to discuss some of them at this weekend's tenth annual North American Organic Beer Festival at North Portland's Overlook Park until Sunday, starting at noon each day. But mostly you probably want to drink and talk about soccer and Ann Coulter in a very pretty park. Woooooo!

Well, myself, Will Oberst, publisher of the Oregon Beer Growler, and Rodney Kibzey, a champion homebrewer who moved to Portland from Chicago last year and won the Widmer Collaborator contest before he'd unpacked all of his hydrometers, sampled most of the field last night.

Here's what we think you should drink with your first six tickets—$1 each after you buy the $6 cornstarch glass.

Cizmar: I'd start with Golden Valley's Berliner Weisse, an ultra-tart wheat beer that, keeping with tradition, is a wee 3.2% ABV—half that found at most other booths. Inside of a buzz, you'll feel your tongue pucker thanks to a supercolony of Lactobacillus. The McMinville brewery allowed the lacto to run the show, sprinkling in a few Tettnanger hops, a stiff-lipped German noble variety that doesn't announce itself, using a mild Kolsch yeast and two unobtrusive malts, wheat and Pilsner.

My other favorite wasn't what some people would consider a good summer beer, but was perfect for me on an overcast day: Lakefront's Fuel Café Coffee Stout. The new-to-me brewery used organic coffee from Milwaukee's (apparently "renowned") Fuel Café, and they seem to have used a lot of it, because this beer is rich yet bright, like a well-made iced Americano. In the event it starts to downpour, you'd find me rushing to get a full glass of the stuff then huddling under the tent watching the World Cup on the big screens.

Oberst (disclaimer: he's on the business side of his publication and does sell advertisements to breweries, though we think he's mostly on the level): "I would go with the Laurelwood's Endless Summer and Hopworks' Totally Radler. They are both light, bright, and empty of blight—no real hangover possibilities. You can drink them on a hike, or in the summer on a bike, you could drink them anywhere... Soon I will have pics to share."

Kibzey: First, Thai-Fi Basil Pale Ale from Hi-Fi Brewing from Redmond, Wash. The perfect marriage of spices and hops in a glass. The Thai Basil provides a pronounced nose and spiciness on the palate, along with the citrus hops that pull it all together in this tasty beverage.
Second, Thirsty Bear's Panda Bear Ale, a spiced golden ale made with whole vanilla beans and TCHO cocoa nibs. Rich earthy under tones of Cocoa Nibs and Vanilla shine through in this beer from San Francisco. Quite the hidden surprise in a Golden.
 
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