reviews

The Best and Worst Beers of the 2016 Oregon Brewers Festival

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The 29th annual Oregon Brewers Fest has kicked off and runs through this Sunday, July 31. As usual, it’s a massive fest that rewards those who come early and often. If you can’t make it through the 112 beers pouring this year, The New School staff has done it for you.

 

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BEST BEERS

Zoiglhaus – Birra Pazza al Pesto
Possibly the most stand out beer of the fest was an unsual pesto-flavored beer, surprisingly created by traditional German-trained brewmaster Alan Taylor. He chopped up tons of fresh basil for this beer, which gives it a zesty, bright, mouthwatering aroma and flavor. He even used a bit of olive oil and toasted pine nuts while using whole wheat spaghetti in the mash for the wheat component of the beer. If this sounds like something you wouldn’t like, you’re not alone, but if you give it a try we think you may be pleasantly surprised! – Samurai Artist

pFriem – Mango Sour
It is tart, but not too sour. I really like that you can taste the grain flavor without it being too sweet. The fruit is subtle, but it is really refreshing. – “SNOB” Ritch

McMenamins Edgefield – Boom Gose The Dynamite
This hibiscus and ginger gose is super refreshing. Its got a perfect level of tartness with spiciness from the ginger and hops, an excellent thirst quencher. – “SNOB” Ritch

Ex Novo – All of the Things
Incredibly refreshing on a hot day, this passionfruit Berliner-weiss is backed up with a very subtle heat. You might not even notice the habanero if you don’t know it’s there but you might find a little warming as it goes down, to counteract the juicy sweet tart flavors up front. – Samurai Artist.

Pelican – Chongie Saaz
This is an excellent example of a Bohemian Pilsner. It’s very crisp with a nice, spicy Saaz hop bite. Again, another refreshing beer. – “SNOB” Ritch

Brouwerij Frontaal – Nebula
This is one of my favorites from the international beers. Its smooth, malty, and chocolaty with a sweet bacon-like smokiness. I think the malt sweetness balances well with the smoke in this beer. – “SNOB” Ritch

Drake’s – Foraging Raccoon IPA
Experimental juicy hop lovers should flock to this one. Excellent head retention, flavors and aromas with a beefy bitterness but not overpowering. – Samurai Artist

New Holland – Dragons Milk Reserve: Mexican Spice Cake
This really does taste like Mexican Spice Cake with nice coconut flavor from the bourbon barrels. Very rich and decadent. Might be too much for a full pour, though. – “SNOB” Ritch.

 

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WORTH TRYING

Breakside – Pomegranate Gose
It’s tart and fruity with a bit of coriander spice, very refreshing. – “SNOB” Ritch

Old Town: Kentucky Refresh-Mint
I don’t usually like mint beers but I have to give credit to Old Town Brewing for trying something new each year at the OBF. I would call this years beer more successful than last years interesting One Up Mushroom Ale. Going for a Mint Julep flavor, they nail the fresh cut grassy/leafy mint flavor of muddled mint, quite different and more natural tasting and less overpowering than spearamint or peppermint. It’s light and refreshing and the mint does not linger at all. I didnt get much of the bourbon flavor but I didnt need to. Definitely worth trying. – Samurai Artist

Lompoc – Trouble Maker
This lager has an excellent dry hopped aroma and  an equally hoppy flavor. – “SNOB” Ritch

Widmer – A Beer Has No Name
A CDA with lactose and orange peel to add depth of flavor. Nice, creamy body and a flavor that gets both grassy and fruity notes from the orange peel, as well as a hint of citrusy bitterness. Thumbs up. – El Gordo

Culmination – Deutschland-Down Under
Nice, crisp, and refreshing Berliner-weiss. Not particularly big on kiwi flavor, but you can tell there’s some fruit in there. Less sour than most Berliners, but the tartness still is up front. Great on a warm afternoon. – El Gordo

Ninkasi – Grapefruit Sour
Though it does have a little of that funky acid aroma that a soured mash can create, the flavor and tropical pithy zing of grapefruit is deliciously juicy and balanced. Could definitely down a few pints of these in this hot weather.

Payette Brewing – 8 Second Rye’d
This has lots of tropical notes from the hops and plenty of rye spice. – “SNOB” Ritch

Gigantic Brewing – Le Petit Bâtard Abeille
Great example of a funky, phenolic, dry, fruity and spicy hopped farmhouse ale. – Samurai Artist

Fearless – Strawberry Cream Ale
The aroma reminds me of strawberry mini-wheats and the flavor is grainy and fruity. – “SNOB” Ritch

Ecliptic – Carina Peach Sour
Peachy, tart, and refreshing. – “SNOB” Ritch

54°40′  – 70% Ultra
I love Ultra hops, which would be why I like this well made pilsner. – “SNOB” Ritch

Slanted Rock – Señor Jalapeacho
Great jalapeno aroma and flavor, with a touch of peach. Heat level isn’t huge, but you can definitely tell the peppers are in there. The fruit and pale malt offset the burn nicely. – “SNOB” Ritch

"SNOB" Ritch found the "secret" tap

“SNOB” Ritch found the “secret” tap

AVOID

Deschutes – Sagefight
For me, I think the hops, sage, and juniper are muddled together and over the top. I think I would have liked it better if the sage and juniper were a bit more subtle. – “SNOB” Ritch

Stone – Gose Gose Gadget
This beer is moderately sour with hints of lemon, but finishes with a strange ashtray-like smokiness. I think the smoke flavor is unintentional from wild yeast (not from smoked malt), but I’m not sure. Intentional or not, I found the flavor to be out of place in this beer. – “SNOB” Ritch

Rogue – Habanero Cherry Imperial Golden Ale
Kill it with fire! That’s about what it deserves, since it’ll do the same to your tongue and throat. Too much habanero leads to a solid burn, and the cherry sweetness on top of Belgian golden malt is cloying. An interesting experiment, but I poured mine out after a sip and a half. – El Gordo

Rusty Truck – IPA
Contrary to the program description, does not resemble a modern NW IPA at all. Brewed with a new experimental hop, which should probably not be used on its own. Very malty, with a husky bitterness on the finish that is pretty unpleasant. If you’re looking for hops, this won’t really scratch that itch. – El Gordo

Base Camp – Mango Helles
Why you would ever want to put mango into a perfect Helles-style lager is beyond me. You only end up ruining both. – Samurai Artist

 

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29th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival

Venue

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon.

Main entrance at SW Oak Street and Naito Parkway; other entrances at SW Pine St, under the Morrison St Bridge and along the sea wall at Pine.

Dates

July 27–31, 2016 — “Always the last full weekend in July”

Times

Weds through Sat, taps are open from Noon to 9 pm
Sun, taps are open from Noon to 7 pm
Mug & glass sales close one-half hour prior to the taps shutting off – 8:30pm every night except 6:30pm on Sunday.

Admission

The Oregon Brewers Festival is not a ticketed event, and there is no admission charge to enter the festival grounds. In order to consume beer, the one-time purchase of a 2016 souvenir 12-ounce clear plastic mug is required and costs $7. Beer is purchased with wooden tokens, which cost $1 apiece. It costs four tokens for a full mug or one token for a taste. The purchase of mugs and tokens is made on-site in one location, although there are a handful of local businesses that sell them up to two weeks prior to the event. The mug/token sales booth is CASH ONLY and does not accept credit cards or checks. The festival does provide eight ATM machines on premise.

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

1 Comment

  1. Bill Night

    July 30, 2016 at 7:23 am

    I didn’t try all the ones you did, but agree 100% on the ones I did try. Garlic beer rules!

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