Big Changes for the 7th Annual Cheers to Belgian Beers Festival


Portland's Cheers To Belgian Beers festival will be held for the 7th year this coming Saturday, April 20th, and over that time it has seen many changes, some for the better and others for the worse. This year's fest will see the most drastic change--removing the original challenge and theme for the festival. In previous years brewers all had to use the same designated Belgian yeast strain in making their beers. Those rules will no longer apply anymore beginning this year.


I attended the first PCTBB along with probably only about a hundred other people in the upstairs dining area of Rock Bottom in downtown Portland. Since its inception, one thing has remained the same--all brewers had to use the same Belgian yeast strain from Wyeast in Hood River, and it would be chosen by the brewery that wins the People's Choice award the previous year. Originally it was intended that the winner would then host the festival the following year. The first year saw the now-defunct Roots Brewing win and host the 2nd year; the 3rd year was hosted by Lucky Lab, the 4th by Hopworks, which was when Block 15 Brewing exploded onto the scene winning. At that point it became clear that the tradition of the winner hosting the fest had to be abandoned, as Block 15 is in Corvallis and has no space to host a fest that had grown to around a 1,000 attendees at that time. One of the best decisions then was to abandon the rotating venue and local brewhouse manufacturers Metalcraft Fabrication became the host in their conveniently located and spacious warehouse right on the MAX line. Another addition was the annual dart toss at the Horse Brass Pub, where competing brewers tossed 2 darts at the board to determine weather their beer would be either a light or dark beer and low or high alcohol. The lead time for brewers to make their beers was also increased and that allowed the possibilities of barrel-aging entries. These changes helped the entries achieve more diversity and made for the best fest possible.

(the scene at last years Cheers to Belgian Beers)

I believe the fest began to falter, though, when beers were appearing that never used the designated yeast strain. At first the beers were not considered as entries for winning the competition, but in later years they made the top 3 list. The rules officially lost meaning though when Logsdon Farmhouse Ales won two years ago with its Seizoen Bretta. I am not knocking that beer--it's an excellent style rendition that really helped put the brewery on the map, but it also was not made with the chosen Wyeast strain. To confound matters, no one from Logsdon was present at the dart toss, so they were not bound to brewing a light, dark, high-, or low-alcohol beer. Instead they poured a masterful Seizoen Bretta that had been under development for some time, and--without said rules--did deserve to win, but in doing so the People's Choice has not had much meaning for the last few years.

As the first year without any of the rules that the festival was conceived, this could be another breakout hit or the beginning of diminishing returns. All beers will continue to be brewed with a Belgian yeast strain, but style, strength, color, and individual yeast strains are up to the brewers. Wisely, the People's Choice Award is also out, as it really has had no meaning for the last several years. In making this drastic decision, the logic by event organizers the Oregon Brewers Guild is:
Since 2008, Oregon brewers have won medals in the Belgian-Style or Sour Ale categories every year at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.  In order to showcase these medal winning beers, opening up the Festival to beers that have been aged, blended, barrel aged or soured and not requiring all brewers to do so was necessary.  
I fear that in opening it up, a lot of brewers will simply enter regular beers in their lineup or seasonals and we will see less unique beers made especially for this festival. Of course, only the hardcore beer geeks such as myself will even notice or mind this. As a casual beer fan, it's unlikely you would have had many of these beers anyway. A look over the 48 beers currently on this weekends taplist does reveal a lot of regular and seasonal beers instead of new Belgian interpretations, such as Breakside Brewery's French Fennel Farmhouse, which has been available for some time, and Hopworks' Apple Biere, Bridgeport's Stumptown Tart, Gigantic's The End of Reason, etc. Still, there are many new beers and ones I am looking forward to trying, such as Old Market Brewing's Blood Orange Lambic or Widmer's saison with pink peppercorns and cilantro.

2013 PCTBB Taplist by:

Brewery
Style of Beer
Name of Beer
Yeast Used
A.B.V.

13 Virtues Brewing Co.
Flanders Brown
Ben Franklin's Flanders Brown
Sour Yeast Blend
6.5%

Alameda Brewing Co.
White Peppercorn Saison
White Peppercorn Saison
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
4%

Ambacht Brewing
Belgian Specialty
Ginger Farmhouse Ale
Wyeast 1762 | Belgian Abbey II
6.5%

Breakside Brewery
Farmhouse Ale
French Fennel Farmhouse
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
6.2%

BridgePort Brewing
Belgian-Style Fruit Ale
Stumptown Tart
2/3rd Belgian Ale Yeast-1/3 House Ale Yeast
7.8%

Buckman Botanical Brewery
Golden Strong
Apple Beer
Wyeast 1214 | Belgian Abbey
8%

Burnside Brewing Co.
Imperial wheat beer with spices+fruit
Barrel Aged International Incident
Belgian Ale Yeast
8%

Caldera Brewing
Dubbel
Dubbel
Wyeast 3787 |Trappist High Gravity
7.5%

Cascade Brewing
NW Style Sour Ale
Chuggit Pucker - the three way
Various
11.5%

Coalition Brewing
Sour Belgian Wit
Sourpuss
Wyeast 3463 | Forbidden Fruit
3.8%

Deschutes Brewery - PDX Pub
Flanders Oud Bruin
Over Here! Beer
Ringwood Ale, Brett. Brux., Brett. Lambicus
8.3%

Double Mountain Brewery
Strong Belgian Blonde Ale
White Rider of Conquest
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
8.7%

Double Mountain Brewery
Belgian Style Imperial IPA
Pale Death
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
9.3%

Fort George Brewery
Fruit Ale
Forbidden Wonder Fruit Ale
Wyeast 3463 | Forbidden Fruit
6.7%

Gigantic Brewing
Petite Belgian Quad
The End of Reason
Wyeast 3787 | Trappist High Gravity
8.3%

Gilgamesh Brewing
Saison with Fruit
Cranberry Saison Sour
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
5.3%

Hopworks Urban Brewery
Belgian Golden with Organic Apple Juice
Organic Apple Ale
Wyeast 1214 | Belgian Abbey
5.8%

Hopworks Urban Brewery
Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Organic Belgian Pale Ale
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
6%

Hopworks Urban Brewery
Belgian Dark Strong
Organic Belgian Abbey Ale
Wyeast 3864 | Canadian/Belgian Ale
8.5%

Humble Brewing
Farmhouse/Saison
Rye Saison
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
6.5%

Laurelwood Brewing Co.
Belgian Trippel
Twisted Trippel
Wyeast 3787 |Trappist High Gravity
9.3%

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
Seizoen
Peche 'n Brett
5 yeasts including Brett
10%

Lompoc Brewing
Belgian-Style Golden
Cellar D'or
Wyeast 3726 | Farmhouse Ale
4.9%

Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub
Belgian Trippel
St. Fanno
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
9.4%

McMenamins C. P. R. Brewery
Farmhouse Ale
Cornelius Pass Farmhouse Ale
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
5.42%

McMenamins Crystal Brewery
Saison
Saisons in the Abyss
Wyeast 3726+Wyeast 3787+Other Strains
4.52%

Oakshire Brewing
Bier De Mars
Bier De Mars
Brettanomyces Lambicus
6.5%

Occidental Brewing Co.
Dubbel
De Keuze
Wyeast 3942 | Belgian Wheat
7.5%

Old Market Pub & Brewery
Blood Orange Lambic
The Devin
Wyeast 3787 + Brettanomyces + Wild Yeast
9.1

Old Town Brewing Co.
Continental Belgian Session
Goulet
Wyeast 1214 | Belgian Abbey
5.3%

Omission Brewing
Gluten Free Belgian Style Table Bier
Bier de Table
Wyeast 3726 | Farmhouse Ale
3.4%

Pelican Brewing Co.
Belgian Stout
Grundy Love
Wyeast 3726 | Farmhouse Ale
5.8%

pFriem Family Brewers
Belgian Strong Dark
Belgian Strong Dark
Wyeast 3538 | Leuven Pale Ale
10.0%

pFriem Family Brewers
Saison
Saison
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
6.5%

Phat Matt's Brewing Co.
Wit
Phat and Witty
Hoegaarden
5%

PINTS Brewing Co.
Belgian IPA
Valyrian
Wyeast 3739 | Flanders Golden Ale
6.5%

Portland Brewing
Barrel-Aged Fruit Beer
Portland Brewing's Restoration
White Labs 500 | Trappist Ale Yeast
8.6%

Portland U-Brew & Pub
Belgian Double
Tigers Blood
1581 Belgian Stout+3522 Belgian Ardennes
8%

Rock Bottom
Low and Light
A Stunning Indictment of the Establishment
Wyeast 1214 | Belgian Abbey
5.1%

Rogue Ales
Belgian Golden
Beard Beer
Beard Yeast
5.6%

Sasquatch Brewing Co.
Grand Cru Blond
Grand Cru Blond
Fermentis T58
7.5%

Solera Brewery
Farmhouse Blend
The Fez
Wyeast 3726 | Farmhouse Ale
4.2

Stickmen Brewery
Saison
Meyer-Bay Saison
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
5.8%

Stickmen Brewery
Belgian Pale Ale
Zuipen
Wyeast 3522 | Belgian Ardennes
5.3%

The Commons Brewrey
Barrel Aged Sour
Emilie
Mixed culture
6%

Track Town Ales
Saison
Fieldhouse Saison
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
7.5%

Upright Brewing
Spring Saison
Bright Moments
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
5.8%

Widmer Brothers Brewing
Saison with Pink Peppercorn & Cilantro
Entendre Saison
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
7%

Worthy Brewing Co.
Saison
Farm Out
Wyeast 3711 | French Saison
7.3%


The outside festival area will be tented and food from Philadelphia's Steaks & Hoagies will be available on Friday and Saturday and food from KOi Fusion will be available from noon-6pm on Saturday.  If you need to pick up some official Timbers Army merchandise for the match on Sunday, the No Pity Van will be onsite as well.  People are encouraged to take public transportation (the TriMet Bus Line 35 stops 1 block away and the Yellow Max Line stops 2 and 3 blocks away) or ride their bike (we will have bike parking outside for 100+ bikes).  Parking is available on the street between Broadway and N. Graham St.
What:  Cheers to Belgian Beers, Belgian-Style Beer Fest 
When: Friday, April 19th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.and Saturday, April 20th from noon to 8 p.m.
Where: Metalcraft Fabrication 723 N Tillamook St., Portland - Map
How: Admission is free.  There is a $15 charge for a stemmed glass and five taste tickets, which is required to taste.  Additional tastes are $1. This is a 21 and over only event.

View or Download the Beer List Here
Interested in volunteering on Saturdayhttp://www.oregonbrewersguild.events-connect.com/

For more information check out http://oregonbeer.org/pctbb 

6 comments:

  1. How about moving to a better sized venue for the increasing attendance? It was filled to capacity for most of Saturday of last year, and it will only get more crowded as more of the casual craft beer drinkers find out about it. They need to fabricate some more space!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did. It's bigger now.
      -Dave @Metalcraft Fabrication.

      Delete
  2. Can you use your previous years glass like OBF?

    ReplyDelete
  3. buuuuuummer.... The total fail or win that occurred from putting the brewers in a box was always the most appealing aspect of this festival to me. At this point are the brewer's even required to use a Belgian yeast? Just sayin.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a former Washington resident I was always intrigued by the interesting and creative festivals that Oregon had including the Cheers to Belgian Beers festival with the requirement of using a single yeast strain (or two to "choose" from last year). Bummer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like the single yeast strain idea, it made the festival unique. It is more difficult for brewers to stand out and brings out direct friendly competition. I was sad to hear that they were going to change it. On the other hand it was hard sometimes amidst production schedules to jam in a complex Belgian beer. And to give that beer 100% was not always possible. But if given the choice I'd go for the single strain concept.

    ReplyDelete

Try not to be a dick.