Wednesdays with Mindy: Oregon Brewer’s Festival
Blogging is going to be sporadic for the next few weeks until all the big work events are over and life returns to somewhat normal. Therefore, Tuesdays with Mindy is now Wednesdays. It’s like Bizarro World!
The Oregon Brewers Festival for the last five years or so has been the mark of turning another year older. Sometimes there is a collectors cup as a souvenir of the occassion and other times there is nothing (cause we’re out-of-town).
We decided to brave the crowds again this year and sample some of the best local and national beers such an event can offer.
My concern started growing as soon as we hit the Lloyd Center parking lot and had trouble locating a spot. This probably had something to do with both the Brew Fest AND the Timbers game, so I tried in vain to convince myself that was the case. The MAX was also kinda packed, but I spotted the Green and White scarves and shirts, so again, I placated myself with those.
Unfortunately, a couple of dudes dispelled us of our hopeful wishes that this wasn’t going to be a beer fueled mosh-pit of human flesh when he indicated that obtaining a pint was averaging about a 30 minute wait time. Boo.
It was pretty intensely packed inside. There were a few places you could step off to the side and avoid the crush of humanity, but it reminded me quite heavily of the San Diego Comic Con show room floor in all the bad ways.
And the lines inside the beer tent? Chaos.
And the Festival goers themselves? Drunken frat boys.
Granted – this was Saturday night after 5pm on a hot day…but I witnessed at least two physical altercations between dudes in close proximity to a swarm of people. I get that personal bubbles were being threatened on both occasions, but for reals? Not really my scene.
As much as I was hating on the atmosphere at the Fruit Beer Festival…it was a tolerable crowd crush. I don’t recall feeling so violated since the failed True Blood panel. Yikes.
Did I mention the line management was poor as well? I mean, get some damn ropes people! Have some security staff ushering people into orderly rows. I’m all for a free and easy atmosphere, but when you are talking about THAT many people jammed into such a small space vying for alcoholic beverages…I want a friendly, ordered affair.
Speaking of San Diego Comic Con – I’ve had two conversations with interested but tentative potential attendees in the last few days, both somewhat randomly. Pretty excited about the prospect of attending next year. 🙂
Back to the Beer – there were 6 brews we waited in line for (30 minutes each, mind you). I would like to note that I didn’t get to sample all the beers I wanted to AND that many of them were already sold out.
I’m especially bummed about missing out on the Kona Lemongrass Luau and the Laht Neppur Peach Hefeweizen. Sad faces for days over those. 😦
Here’s how the beers rated…
1. Boneyard Beer: Watermelon was my absolute favorite of the day. It also happened to be the last beer I tasted and was smuggled out from the second tent and clutched madly by a buddy in order for me to enjoy its pleasures. It had a complete watermelon taste – nothing sweet or tangy to it. Like biting down to the rind. I could seriously have bathed in it. Soooo good. When I think of the perfect summer beer, I will always be chasing this drink.
2. Cascade Brewing: Razberry Wheat. A resounding favorite amongst all the ladies. Every time I sample this, I convince myself to check out Raccoon Lodge and Cascade Brewing. But then I forget because it’s out in Beaverton and there’s no real reason to head out there. Like, ever. EXCEPT – it looks like they now have a Portland venue – Cascade Brewing Barrel House. Sooo, I have no more excuses. Plus their tap list looks like a girly, fruity beer dream come true.
3. 21st Amendment Brewery: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. I thought this was good until I sampled the Boneyard brew. This is still a heavy contender on my all time favorite beers, but I think Boneyard wipes the floor with this light, somewhat sweet beverage. And OMG – you can now buy these bottled in stores. I guess the Fred Meyers in the inner-Southeast have them. YUM!
4. Beer Valley Brewing: Jackalope Imperial Pumpkin Porter. Did I mention I like fruit in my beers? Cause I don’t usually enjoy Porter but this was DELICIOUS! Especially in comparison with the Imperial Coffee Porter that it followed. Yum – I wouldn’t mind sipping this on a cold winter’s day. It was like pumpkin pie with whip cream and coffee in a glass. +5 to Nom.
5. Laughing Dog Brewing: Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter. This was another of Dan’s selections, and was universally panned by our group. It tasted like pine needles and coffee. Not fun to drink when it’s over 80 degrees out.
6. Ninkasi Brewing: Helles Belles. More like Hops Belles. Not my beer style and as the first selection, set a bad tone. We had to take turns chugging.
I feel sort of lukewarm about this event. I always end up finding one or two beers I looove (and also drinking some old favorites) but I’m not sure it’s worth it to fight the crowds (literally) just to queue for half an hour and drink beer standing up. Kinda bummed because this is a summer staple event. Might try attempting it during the week and seeing if there are better results.
No more Saturday night Brewer’s Fest for me. Overall – enjoyed the beers though. So yay for that?