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Tuesdays with Mindy: Portland Fruit Beer Festival

As a fan of fruity beers, I’ve been excited for months about the first annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival hosted by Burnside Brewing Company. The event featured over 15 breweries from the Northwest and beyond with over 20 different beers, the majority of them brewed up special for the festival. 

PFBF was sponsored by Yelp, KBOO and Brewvana. It featured wood fired pizzas and bagel sandwiches with vegetarian and vegan options from Tastebud. To counteract all those veggies – Fifty Licks was offering up Maple and Bacon ice cream from one of their mobile trucks. 

But who cares about all that food when there was a crap ton of beer to be had? We arrived to a line already wrapped around the fenced off Burnside Brewing parking lot. After picking up a pint glass and 10 tickets we almost immediately ran into one Mr. MMCoolJam for whom we had a delivery of borrowed Star Trek items. He pointed us in the direction of our first tasting.

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1. Fort George Brewing: Badda BOOM! Cherry Stout

Their Description: Coming in at 6.9% ABV, rich and dark as a moonless night in the orchard, Badda BOOM! has 40 pounds of raspberries and cherries mingling famously with the Belgian yeast esters and black barley bitters.

Ours: Dan approved. A little hopsy. Nice dark color with a chocolate aftertaste. ********************************************************************************************

We then attempted to try all the beers from left to right of the entire row. Our second choice: ********************************************************************************************

2. Alameda Brewing: Huckleberry Hound

Their Description: Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA aged and “dry-hopped” with huckleberries. ABV: 8.2% IBU’s: 103

Ours: Neither liked it. Super hopsy. The fruit hides behind the bad. It leaves a nasty aftertaste that seems to linger. *************************************************************************************************

After such a bad sophomore sampling, we decided to forgo the left to right option and find something I would enjoy before I deeply regretted blowing $15 and all those weeks of excitement.

We skipped over the Beetje Brewing: Zure Krenten (Pinot Noir Barrel-aged farmhouse ale with champagne currants), Block 15 Brewing: Psidium (Rustic farmhouse ale matured with Guava fruit and blended with a sour golden ale) and Breakside Brewing: Mango IPA (A tweaked version of Breakside’s flagship beer changed to suit the flavor of fresh Mango).

View from inside the fence

The last was universally panned by everyone we chatted with. Since one of my favorite fruity beers has long been the defunct Sour Cherry from 4th Street Brewing, we progressed to a tart wheat beer (two of my favorite things!).  **************************************************************************************************

3. Burnside Brewing: Gooseberry Berliner-Weisse

Their Description: A slightly tart wheat beer with a mild fruitiness. This brew is lowly hopped (2ibu’s) and fermented with a lactic bacteria in addition to the German ale yeast resulting in slightly sour finish. A percentage of this beer was put into french oak barrels and aged with 50 pounds of Washington grown Gooseberries. ABV: 3.35% IBU’s: 2.1

Ours: Mindy was like “meh.” Tart without a nasty bite. Light flavor – almost lacking in flavor. Strong wheaty taste – just tart and wheat really. *********************************************************************************************

4. Hopworks Urban Brewing: Belgian Applebiere

Theirs: An Abbey ale crossed with a Cider and fermented with Chimay yeast. 51% Organic wheat 49% pressed Organic Apple Cider. 6+% ABV.

Ours: Mindy was like “meh” again. Had the misfortune of following close on the heels another tasteless, tarty beer. No real flavor. Blah.

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5. Laurelwood: Mango Mint Pale

Theirs: None. BUT it was highly recommended by our Beer SNOB buddy and our Yelp Elite friend Joe who almost always makes an appearance at any PDX event.

Ours: Finally – a keeper for us both. Light stroke of hops with no rancid aftertaste. Mint in the middle, wheat at the end. Excellent balance. Would happily sit down with friends and a pitcher of this any summers day. ***************************************************************************************************

6. New Belgium: Ooh La La

Theirs: Ale brewed with Raspberries 8.5% ABV. ALSO suggested by anyone who had the glory of tasting it before IT FUCKING SOLD OUT MID DAY ON SATURDAY.

Ours: Muh favorite!! Dan’s too. There was no bad to this beer. Amazing rich color. The first with a really strong fruity taste. Sour, sweet, strong and AMAZING! Would buy a keg of this and drink it until I passed out.

New favorite thing!

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7. Lompoc Brewing: Sour Willy

Theirs: A blend of 5 different beers. This light, complex, slightly sour beer is great for summertime. It has a fruity aroma and mellow cherry oak.

Ours: Mindy approved. “It’s like a brewery tour for your mouth.” Kicks at first and then drops off. Drinkable, but nothing spectacular.  The rest of my time was spent underlining phrases like “slightly sour” and “fruity aroma.” We agreed that a beer named “Sour Willy” really should have more tart. **********************************************************************************************

We ran into my AmeriBuddy Bethany and a few of her friends down from Seattle specifically for this event a few beers back. We heard tell from random drinkers-by that in the Rare Rotating Taplist in the Brewhouse the Chupacabra Chili Stout had been tapped, which our SNOB friend wanted a whiff of, as did we. 

View inside the Brewhouse

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8. Hopworks: Chupacabra Chili Stout

Theirs: Organic Survival “7-Grain” Stout aged for 2 weeks with Chipotle, Poblano, Anaheim, Scotch Bonnet, Cherry Bomb and Habanero Peppers. 15 Plato 5.3% ABV 35 IBU

Ours: Dan was all “yum.” The rest of us agreed it was like drinking black coffee at Shari’s. For seriously? Put some spice in there!

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Happily our friends picked up samples of the other rare tap at the time.

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9. Cascade: Apricot

Theirs: Based on a Belgian Tripel, this beer went through 16 months lactic fermentation and aging in French oak wine barrels, then rested on the fruit for four months before finishing. 8.5% ABV.

Ours: Mindy was in love. Scribbled down “Kick in the pants?” Guess alcohol turns me into an 80-year-old woman. Another super tart balanced with flavor. Odd, because there was no tart or sour mentioned. OMGAWD the scent was fantastic. I grabbed poor Beth’s pint and just couldn’t stop inhaling.

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Around this time we snagged some pizza slices from Tastebud – bacon and asparagus for Dan and zuchinni and pesto for me. We swallowed it down with a pint of Dogfish Head: Festina Peche which neither of us liked much. No peach taste. Highly tart. After filling our bellies with more than just liquid stuffs, we headed outside for more Vitamin D and Vitamin B (B for beer).  We kicked it off with an attempt at the Ninkasi Brewing: Pinot Barrel Aged Oatis with Cherries but it was all gone. As was the Ooh La La, so our friends could not get a sample. 

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10. Oakshire Brewing: Blind Date

Theirs: An oat brown ale made with organic dates. The beer finishes with a mild sweetness from the dates. 6% ABV

Ours: This one goes to Dan. Hopsy. IPA-ish for a Belgian ale. You can smell the bitter.

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We got in the long-ass line for the delightful magenta colored Widmer Brothers brew, which just so happened to be tucked up against the Fifty Licks truck, so we grabbed a cone of Maple Bacon Ice Cream. Not as terrible as it sounds. The bacon complimented the maple quite well and was delightful to munch on. Like less sweet chunks of gumball. 

Maple Bacon Ice Cream: sweet and crunchy

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11. Widmer Brothers Brewing: Himbeere Gose mit dem Eibisch

Theirs: Gose with raspberries and hibiscus ABV: 5.3% OG: 11.7P AE: 2.3P

Ours: More meh. Expected something sweeter. Hard to gauge after we both chomped on maple bacon ice cream. Tart. Blah.

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After this disappointing round we stumbled back inside the Brewhouse for a crack at the Devil’s Kriek mentioned by my buddy Stephdawgory.

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12. Double Mountain: Devil’s Kriek

Theirs: Brewed once a year at cherry harvest it develops its intensity for a full twelve months. A brown ale provides a tasty counterpart to the fruit. 8.3% ABV.

Ours: Dark, smooth but tart overpowers the cherry taste. Would have liked to compare it with the other Kriek offered.

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Our buddies grabbed up the other brew that was tapped while we milled about in the shade. 

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13. Lompoc: Cherry Fechter

Theirs: Our Fools Golden fermented in a Maryhill Vineyard Cabernet Franc barrel with 35 pounds of sour cherries. It is clean crisp with a bright pink color and a slight sourness in the finish.

Ours: Dan and Mindy agreed – very much yum. “We could sip this on a warm summer’s day.”

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As I was making use of an ingenius little bench along the wall – Dan procured one more of the Brewhouse offerings.

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14. Coalition: Wheat From The Tree

Theirs: An American style wheat aged 2 months in a St. Josef’s chardonnay barrel, this beer has light notes of bartletts pears and wine grape, with a sweet tangy finish of fresh mandarin and tangelo. 5.2% ABV

Ours: Neither. We couldn’t really get over the smell, which hits you first. It was terrible – like dog piss and eggs or sewage. That’s all we wrote down.

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Our final venture outside revealed that much had changed in our shady absence. Two more of the Garden taplist items had sold out in the first day (it was only 5pm!) and had been replaced by rare beers (only 1 ticket a pour though, so the error was in our favor). 

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15. Burnside Brewing: Sweet Heat

Theirs: Wheat beer brewed with Scotch Bonnet.

Ours: Both. The first sip isn’t that bad – you can taste the peppers and there is a bit of a spicy kick, but it fades quickly and leaves you tempted for another drink. It’s the second sip that leaves you with a mild burning in your throat. Dan was the only soul brave enough to down the whole glass (with a little help from our friends). Definite yum.

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The final piece de resistance was the only strawberry beer I had spied the entire day – which surprised me as Hood River strawberries are legendary. You would think that SOMEONE would have made at least one other brew – considering the glut of cherry represented. Even raspberry had a poor showing. Whatevs.  It was yet another long line for us.

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16. Upright: Gin Barrel-Aged Four with Strawberries

Theirs: Upright’s flagship wheat beer aged with Oregon strawberry puree in a Ransom Distillery Old Tom Gin barrel. 5% ABV.

Ours: Another meh. The gin was definitely overpowering of a lot of the subtle flavors. The smell is sweet but the gin gives it a mint wash…which made me wish I was drinking the Laurelwood Mango Mint again. Disappointing because it was our last sample and we waited in a long ass line to get it. Ah well.

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OVERALL:

Enjoyed the event – reasonably priced food and desserts available. The all ages aspect was interesting…not sure how many people would bring their kids to a beer garden, especially towards the end of the day when people have been drinking steadily for 5-6 hours. Ya know. 

Like the dude photo-bombing in the background.

Due to the perpetual line and beers running out on the first day…I think Burnside Brewing potentially under-estimated the number of people attending. The parking lot location was my least favorite of the three festivals I’ve attended thus far. My personal favorite venue was the Organic Brewer’s Festival at Overlook Park. Live music (the DJ was good) and plenty of grass to sprawl out on. We might have lingered a bit longer if there were more benches or table spots. 

I hope they consider moving locations next year. 

FINAL BEER THOUGHTS: Turns out as much as I love tart/sour – there can be too much of a good thing. Balance is my ideal, and that’s reflected in those I marked as favorites. Looking forward to visiting some of these local breweries to scout out these brews or something similar. 

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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

3 responses to “Tuesdays with Mindy: Portland Fruit Beer Festival”

  1. mmcooljam says :

    Awesome write up! Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

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