OBF 27 – beers to watch for

The first day of the 27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival is done (even though this is the second year they started on a Wednesday, I’m still thinking in terms of starting on Thursday… or I remember starting on a Friday even… yeah, get off my lawn), and it already looks like a great year. (You can follow along on Twitter on the main OBF account, or by the hashtag #obf27, or the Specialty Tent.) If you’re planning on attending any of the next four days, I thought I’d throw out some recommendations for beers to keep an eye out for.

Lisa Morrison at the 2012 OBF

One of my favorite pictures from 2012′s OBF, with one of my favorite people (Lisa Morrison) and lots of Brewfest beer.

You can find the full list of what’s pouring in the main tents here.

Fruity/Sour beers: these (along with the IPAs) make up the majority of beer “styles” this year, and some simply look too interesting to pass up. Note there are a number of other fruited beers pouring, including several fruit-infused IPAs, but these stand out to me as worth the token(s).

  • 10 Barrel Cider Weisse: A blend of their Berliner Weisse with green apple cider
  • Cigar City Brewing Mangosteen Florida Weisse: Another Berliner Weisse fruit blend!
  • Ecliptic Brewing Perihelion Crimson Saison: A saison brewed with rhubarb
  • Elysian Brewing Perfesser: American Wild Ale with plums, sounds intriguing
  • Gigantic Brewing Who Ate All the Pies?: My favorite name on this year’s list, it’s a strawberry rhubarb gose—this would be my first beer to try,  hands down. Plus, that’s two with rhubarb this year, if you’re counting.
  • Paradise Creek Brewery Huckleberry Pucker: another Berliner Weisse

IPAs and Pale Ales: yes, the other most-represented category, and what kind of an OBF would you have if you didn’t sample some IPAs that you can’t necessarily get around here?

  • Alaskan Brewing Hopothermia: A double IPA that should be solid since it’s from Alaskan.
  • Ashtown Brewing Blackberry India Pale Ale: I have to admit I’m intrigued since it has my favorite berry in it. Plus I’ve not had any beers from Ashtown yet.
  • Boundary Bay Double Dry Hopped Mosaic Pale Ale: They always bring a solid beer to the OBF, and Mosaic is on fire right now
  • Fitger’s Brewhouse Hoppelujah IPA: From Minnesota—I don’t know anything else about them but I’m always intrigued by some Midwestern IPAs.
  • Maui Brewing Lorenzini Blood Orange Double IPA: Yes, it has fruit, but it came all the way from Hawaii…
  • Port Townsend Brewing Extra Special Hop Diggidy: How can you pass up a name like that?

Intriguing and/or Couldn’t Resist the Name: If the name or style didn’t catch my eye in either of the above list, they fall here:

  • Beer Valley Heavy Sugars Honey Ale: The one and only braggot at the fest that I can see, and I enjoyed the name.
  • Collaborator Czech’d Out Pils: I’ve been on the lookout for good Pilsners these days, and the Collaborator brew (Widmer + Oregon Brew Crew) would hit the mark I think.
  • Deschutes Ester the Farmhouse Maiden: A saison with a great name.
  • Dogfish Head Burton Olde English: Big malty sweet old ale. Dogfish Head always brings interesting beers (Raspberry Mint Imperial Stout, anyone?).
  • Dunedin Brewery Moon Reflects on Hibiscus: A Belgian IPA with fruit and flowers. I’m intrigued, but I remember a few years ago the first Dunedin beer I had wasn’t terribly impressive.
  • Kells Brew Pub Billy Ray Citrus: Oh good lord, a CDA version of their Miley Citrius IPL from the Oregon Garden Brewfest. I can’t help but like that name though.
  • Logsdon Sraffe Drieling: A Tripel, and knowing Logsdon this should be great.
  • Lucky Lab Hopperopolis: A “copper ale” with a great name.
  • Old Town Brewing Yosteamite Sam: A California Common and the name? Yes.
  • Rogue Dopplesticke: A double alt style, I think?

Finally, Old Standbys:

  • Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
  • Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
  • Caldera Brewing Caldera Toasted Coconut Chocolate Porter
  • Cascade Brewing Raspberry Wheat
  • Full Sail Cascade Pilsner
  • Ninkasi Oktoberfestbier
  • Terminal Gravity IPA
  • Widmer Widberry

Happy drinking!

The 27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival

Oregon Brewers Festival 2014This weeks marks the 27th annual Oregon Brewers Festival, the Ur-Fest of Oregon’s beerfests, which kicks off Wednesday the 23rd and runs through the weekend to end on Sunday, July 27. This is one of those festivals that every beer lover should attend at least once, for this final full weekend of July on the Willamette River in Portland is (in my experience) always a hot, beautiful weekend, and in addition to being immersed in Portland’s amazing beer culture you’ll see costumes, a wandering Oom-pah band, brewers, homebrewing, amazing beers that you probably won’t find anywhere else, and much, much more.

I won’t be able to attend this year, alas, but I wish I could: there are more brewers and beers than ever (88 pouring in all), the Specialty Tent will have another 100 beers pouring, and for the first time ever, brewers from outside the United States will be pouring beer! (In the Specialty Tent.)

The Oregon Brewers Festival is flying over both beer and brewers from Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij Rodenburg, Microbrouwerij Rooie Dop, Brouwerij Maximus, Brouwerij Duits & Lauret, Brouwerij de Molen, Oedipus Brewing, Het Uiltje, Oersoep and Ramses Bier. Bierbrouwerij Emelisse is also sending beer as well, although no brewer representation.

Each brewery will serve five of their beers daily in the festival’s Specialty Tent, an area where vintage, barrel aged, blends and esoteric one-offs from participating breweries are also offered. The brewers will be available for daily meet the brewer sessions at the event. They will also be doing a special Meet & Greet and beer tasting event at Belmont Station, a local bottle shop, on July 24 from 4 to 8pm.

Dubbed NL to PDX (#NLtoPDX), the program started when festival director Art Larrance learned that Portland has a Friendship City relationship with the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Upon visiting, he discovered a growing craft brewing movement that reminded him of the Northwest craft beer industry in the 1980s; brewers who are just beginning to explore new flavors and styles.

The Brewfest is open from noon to 9pm each day except Sunday, when it closes at 7pm. Admission int the fest is free, though you’ll need to purchase the 2014 souvenir glass for $7 in order to drink beer, and the wooden tokens good for a sample cost $1 each (though I believe you have to buy them in packs). You can use tokens from previous years as they recycle them, but you’ll have to buy the glass.

This is my favorite all-around festival, and I’m sorry to be missing it this year. But I’ll still be posting more about it this week, in particular some of the beers I think you should be looking for. There are also some fun factoids sent out with the press kit that make for a fun read, and perhaps for nostalgia’s sake I’ll re-run some pictures from past years.

In the meantime, clear your calendar and get ready for Portland!

Laht Neppur Ale House, Walla Walla, Washington

Laht Neppur Brewing, located in Waitsburg, Washington, about 21 miles northeast of Walla Walla, set up shop in 2005 and became best known outside of the region for their fruit beers, notably the Peach Hefeweizen and Strawberry Cream Ale. Within the last couple of years they also opened up the Laht Neppur Ale House in downtown Walla Walla, which my wife and I visited briefly on our trip to the town last month.

Laht Neppur Ale House

It was midafternoon, after wine tasting and before dinner, so we didn’t eat anything and I simply ordered the sampler tray for $10. This came with eight beers, though I believe they may normally have ten on most of the time.

Laht Neppur sampler tray of beers

I’ll get back to the beers in a bit. The Ale House itself is probably one of the most unassuming, unpretentious places in downtown Walla Walla (and for a wine town, Walla Walla itself is pretty unprentious). It’s a big space, grungy, with peanut shells all over the floor—Pete Dunlop, reviewing their actual brewery in Waitsburg, called the decor there “early grubby” and I suppose that applies here as well. It’s fairly spartan with minimal decorations, and I’d go so far as to call the decor and atmosphere sort of “industrial hipster”; fairly proto-hipster by Portland standards but that’s the impression I got. They have a stage for music as well, decorated with a couple of wine barrels and various Celtic knot-type paintwork.

Laht Neppur Ale House music stage

Laht Neppur Ale House menu boards

The menu and beer list were on chalkboards above the bar, and the tap handles were on the plain side and looked scrounged together. The bar top had a cool inlaid Celtic knot-type of design.

Laht Neppur Ale House bar

Now, the beers. Generally speaking I thought the fruit beers were the best of the samples: Peach Hefeweizen, Spiced Peaches ‘n Cream Ale, and St. Dorothy’s Peach Cordial Ale, a big Belgian-y-styled beer around 9% or something that smelled like it might have a bit of a wild bug in it, and presenting lots of peach character. Be careful drinking this one, it’s big.

The other beers samples were the Nut Brown, Mike’s Golden, Kolsch, Oatmeal Porter, Scotch Ale, IPA, and Stout. They were average for me; there were some off-flavors that made me wonder if the lines needed cleaning or if the beers themselves had issues (I tasted earthy, malty-heavy, slightly spicy notes in several, the kind of flavors that remind me a bit of brewing with hot peppers). So it’s hard to say, without having a chance to try them again under different circumstances.

All in all, though, a nice downtown beer stop if you find yourself in the town and ready for a break from wine. Do note, however, that they are cash-only (there is an ATM on site).

Laht Neppur Ale House
53 South Spokane Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362
(509) 529-2337

Received: Three seasonal specialties from Deschutes Brewery

I’m a little behind on mentioning these, as I actually received them a week ago (last Thursday the 3rd), hand-delivered in fact (I assume they didn’t want them potentially sitting on hot truck over the long holiday weekend). Three of the latest seasonal/specialty bottle offerings from Deschutes Brewery:

Three specialty beers from Deschutes Brewery

In order, left to right: Doppel Dinkel Bock, AKA Conflux No. 3; Black Butte XXVI (anniversary beer); and Foray IPA, a Belgian-style IPA. I haven’t yet opened these bottles but I have sampled each of these beers and I can attest that they are tasty.

And I’m really kind of digging how the font for the Doppel Dinkel Bock label is basically the classic Star Trek TV series title font.

Harvester Brewing must change its name

Portland’s award-winning, all-gluten-free brewery, Harvester Brewing, is changing its name to avoid legal issues raised over the name “Harvester” from a California winery, Hope Family Wines. At heart it’s a trademark dispute; Hope Family Wines has a trademark for the word “Harvester” that applies to “wines” (and only “wines” as near as I can tell from searching, not “alcoholic beverages” or anything).

Harvester Brewing


Harvester Brewing is making the most of it and opening up the virtual suggestion box for new names:

If you were disappointed that you missed out on the opportunity to help name the first dedicated gluten-free brewery in the United States then we have some great news. Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, California has decided that our use of Harvester will create brand confusion and has demanded that we change the name of our brewery, despite being in a different trademark class. Rather than spend time, money, and energy focused on a lengthy legal battle we have decided to ask our fans to help us choose a new name.

Hope Family Wines finds the use of “Harvester” in any form “unacceptable” so ideas like New Harvester Brewing or G.F.Harvester Brewing will not be permitted by Hope Family Wines. We would like it if the new name worked well with our love of farming, farmers, and tractors so we can continue using our tractor logo but we will consider non-tractor related ideas too.

Please submit new name suggestions to contact@harvesterbrewing.com

While I understand the need for a company to enforce its trademarks at the risk of losing them, this case seems a little odd. First, the trademark domain—only “wines” in this case—seems limited to go after a brewing company. Next, as Brewpublic points out, the winery currently does not have a wine actually named “Harvester” on the market; they were apparently developing a box wine with that name several years ago but it sounds as though it were never released.

Then of course one has to wonder if breweries such as Asheville’s Green Man Brewery will also receive legal notices from Hope Family, as they have a beer named “Harvester.” Certainly the same “logic” that applies to confusing a wine with a brewery would extend to confusing a wine with a beer. Time will tell.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions for Harvester for a new name, that also allows them to keep their tractor logo, be sure to send them their way.