On Saturday, October 9 from 5-8pm, Alesong Brewing & Blending welcomes beer from across the country at its third edition of Alesong & Friends. The event takes place at Alesong’s tasting room & barrel aging facility south of Eugene; attendees have the opportunity to catch a shuttle bus from Eugene to Alesong for this event.
The lineup includes rare beer from some familiar and well-loved names – Holy Mountain, Logsdon, pFriem – but also Birds Fly South, the Greeneville, South Carolina brewery that took gold to Alesong’s silver and bronze medals in the Brett Beer category at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. As with all Alesong & Friends events, there will be a panel discussion accompanying the tasting.
The wine-beer hybrid style has grown in popularity over the last few years, as brewers recognize that it is essentially a fruit beer, rather than something essentially more difficult; credit wine’s haughtier reputation for that one. “People have really embraced the style, and brewers are coming out of their shells,” says Alesong co-owner Brian Coombs. “It seems daunting, but it’s really a fruit beer.”
Appropriately, Alesong’s taproom is just down the hill from Oregon wine powerhouse King Estate. Since before its inception, Coombs and co-owner Matt van Wyk produced Oakshire’s first wine grape beers back in 2014. Since then, as a major part of Alesong’s oeuvre, they’ve refined their production process. “I may the only one that does a cold soak for color retention,” he says, a technique he learned while working at King Estate.
Further, “We’re adding more fruit. Our Pinot Noir Blanc beer is 38% juice, as opposed to 20-something-percent before. Matt and I’s Muller Thurgau beer [brewed at Oakshire] was around 10%.” Alesong also traffics in only high quality fruit, no cast-offs or bruised seconds, and does not use commercial purees. “With purees, it’s easy to go overboard; all of a sudden, all you’re tasting is fruit.” Despite the high proportion of fruit in Alesong’s wine-beers, one can still taste the beer.
Alesong & Friends will feature a unique collaboration with Logsdon Farmhouse. Brewed at Logsdon and chilled in the coolship there, the wort was split 50/50 between the two breweries. Logsdon aged the beer with Washington Temperanillo grapes, Alesong with Syrah. Coombs says of his blend, “Ours has that classic Southern Oregon Syrah, more tobacco-y, and that classic Logsdon spontaneous character.”
Aaron Brussat is a complex living organism with an interest in all things fermented. He started writing about and working in the beer industry in 2010. His experience stems primarily from spending six years at The Bier Stein as a beer steward, homebrewing since 2005, and passing the BJCP and Certified Cicerone exams. Highlights along the way include numerous collaborations with local brewers, curating beer dinners at The Bier Stein, and traveling to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Peru, and New Zealand (as well as many parts of the U.S.) for a chance to drink beer at the source.