We look forward to the Beer and Cider Pro/Am Festival pretty much all year, and not just because we're putting on the event. This raucous fest is all about tapping the talent of homebrewers by teaming them up with some of the best breweries and cideries in town. Then we pit them against each other to pour at a huge party for the public.
This year's Beer and Cider Pro/Am Festival is Saturday, Oct. 14, at District East. For a mere $28, you get to try 32 beers and ciders and vote for your favorite.
Every year this fest is full of off-the-wall, surprising and flat-out excellent brews that have never been seen on earth. Past winners and favorites have become signatures at their breweries. Sasquatch's excellent bourbon cream ale was first made for the Pro/Am Festival by future Yachats and Allegory brewer Charlie Van Meter. The same goes for Trumpet Major Burton ale, an near-extinct style resurrected by Culmination Brewing and beer historian Bill Schneller, a brewer match-up that will return to the fest this year. Both were among the state's 10 best beers of the year.
We haven't tried any of the Pro/Am Festival beers and ciders this year, and neither has anybody else. But these are the ones we're most stoked about.
Grape Lotion Hazy Grape IPA (Great Notion)
Grape Lotion is a shout-out to the haters, a nickname given to the brewery by beer nerds. The beer sounds as fun as the name—a light and hazy IPA brewed with light Chenin Blanc grapes and Nelson Sauvin hops that already taste like wine.
Hive Mind Japanese Braggot (Breakside)
Breakside's Natalie Baldwin is Pro/Am Festival royalty. In 2014, she won as an amateur with a coffee milk stout that knocked everybody on their asses. This year, she and homebrewer Jim Thompson made a Japanese-style honey ale with earthy matcha, yuzu citrus and local honey.
Foggy Day Bavarian-Style Hefeweizen (Upright)
This is a German nerd beer for Oregon nativists: a Bavarian-style Hefe open-fermented at Upright to bring out big clove notes, made with Mt. Hood hops and artisan Mecca Grade Estate malts from Oregon. (Disclosure: The amateur on this beer is WW beer writer Parker Hall, so we're rooting for him to succeed wildly or fail hilariously.)
Mexican Gose (Fat Head's)
This lime, salt and serrano-pepper beer is like a refreshing margarita that comes with its own salsa. It sounds like a whole damn day at Chili's condensed into a single glass.
Saison L'Enorme Apricot Brett Saison (Gigantic)
Both Gigantic's Ben Love and Farmboy Fermenteering's Dean Ehnes have each been barrel-aging some wild saisons and Bretts. Then they blended them together to make a world of funk and deep oak notes, balancing it out with a mess of apricot purée.
Peach Papaya Beerboocha (Unicorn)
It's a beer. It's kombucha. It's beerboocha. Specifically, it's Kölsch mixed with peach-papaya kombucha from Underdog's Joseph Seeley. We are both excited and afraid.
Peach Better Have My Honey Cyser (Oregon Mead and Cider)
It's cider. It's mead. It's a ferment of apples and honey made with basil and peaches. It sounds like dessert in a glass.
Wizards and Fuggles Cider (Cider Riot)
Amateur Chelsea Stowers was hands-down winner of the SheBrew competition showcasing female cidermakers and brewers. Now she's teamed up with Cider Riot's Angie Watkins for a floral cider with rose hips and English Fuggles.
Bat Shit Hazy IPA (Fort George)
Fort George has been much bulletproof on hops this year, from a 3-Way IPA to a super-fruity fresh hop. Along with Belmont Station's Lisa Morrison, they're throwing tropical soursop and tangerine into what they call a "tropical glass of opaque mayhem." We're stoked.
GO: Beer and Cider Pro/Am Festival, District East, 2305 SE 9th Ave., Saturday, Oct. 14. 1-6:30 pm. $28 ($55 VIP tasting starts at noon.) Tickets at Bit.ly/TicketsProAm2017.