The Portland Fruit Beer Fest—starting right now at Burnside Brewing Company, is almost always one of our favorite fests of the year—so much fruit,
so much sun, and especially so much wild variety in what brewers attempt. Once considered a maligned novelty, fruit is now one of the arenas where brewers experiment most, uh, fruitfully. Here are the three we’ve tried that you should definitely beeline for first.
Mango Sticky Rice (Breakside)
There are food beers, and then there are beers that taste like food. Breakside’s Mango Sticky Rice, brewed for the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, is very much the latter. Brewer Ben Edmunds is a known food hound, and Mango Sticky Rice is a cookbook in a pint glass—a jaw-dropping sweet-savory magic trick that convinces your palate you’ve just eaten Thai dessert on the beaches of Phuket. Fruity and lightly zesty and viscous with the grain of rice, the 6.8 percent blonde ale is made with malted oats and toasted rice and coconut, then conditioned on Champagne mangoes and imbued with lime zest and vanilla bean. The beer is a love letter to Thailand, and wherever we can drink this beer on a patio, that is where you’ll find us.
Key Lime (10 Barrel)
Key Lime can be horribly wrong, or horribly right. 10 Barrel Portland's Key Lime, brewed by Portland brewmaster Whitney Burnside, is a key lime beer gone terribly, terribly right. Absent the needling lacto note of most lacto sours in this state—part because of its cream ale base, part because cut with zesty key lime—it's a beautifully balanced treat that tastes beautifully like its namesake.
Blood Orange Hazy IPA (Fort George)
True also of its downright terrific Three-Way with Great Notion Brewing and Reuben's Brews, Fort George is proving itself a master at milkshake IPAs—and while blood orange can often be a warm, wet blanket over interesting flavor, here it complements the juice and lightly bitter haze beautifully.
Portland Fruit Beer Fest, Burnside Brewing Company, 701 E Burnside St., fruitbeerfest.com. 4-9 pm. $20-$25 for 12-14 tastes. Through June 11.