The annual Portland Pro/Am is not just a festival with some of the most creative brews you'll find anywhere all year, but a vicious competition in which reputations and careers are made while others have their egos bruised. Our beer writers Martin Cizmar and Parker Hall each told me their beers would be victorious—before they were even brewed. I'm sure I'll end up trying them both and saying something polite. But here are the beers I'm stoked to try first.
The Trumpet Major, from Culmination and Bill Schneller
This one's for serious geeks. Old Burton Ale is like the chimpanzee relative of IPA, an alternate evolutionary path for bitter beer. Schneller is both a previous Pro/Am winner and an old-guard homebrewer who's been a mentor to a generation of them.
Sorcerer's Apprentice, from McMenamins Edgefield and Mike Marsh
Edgefield is my favorite McMenamins brewery, and this is the other nectarine brett—the one not brewed with the help of a WW writer. So it'll probably be great.
It Burns When IPA, from Ex Novo and Jack Hall
This cheerfully obscene jalapeño cream ale is basically going to be a tropical-hopped jalapeño popper in beer form. Jalapeño hopper?
Munchensteiner Spezial, from Widmer and Steve Munch
Portland went from zero to two solid Bavarian-inspired helles lagers in a single year, thanks to Zoiglhaus and Rosenstadt. This one is apparently a Frankenstein helles with high alcohol content, the prize recipe of a homebrewer who's been brewing for 20 years and a brewer who's now heading up Widmer's pilot brewery.
Amprosia, from Great Notion and Chad Graham
Because what the living hell? This is a saison fermented with cultures of lacto, pedio and brett, then aged with two different kinds of wine grape for two months. This could, fundamentally, be anything in the world—succeed wonderfully, fail horribly. Beers like this are exactly why I like this festival.