This past Friday and Saturday, the 2016 The Little Woody Barrel Aged Beer, Cider and Whiskey festival took place for its eighth year at the Deschutes Historical Museum. This is my third year of attending (the first year Jon attended alone and then we have missed a few due to family obligations).
While in line anxiously awaiting for noon to strike, I inquired about media passes and was graciously accommodated with two tasting packages. Doors opened and we were off to find our starter beverages. I noted Atlas Cider with a randall with oak chips to infuse their Session Cider.
Cora from Wild Ride Brewing was at her booth and Jon’s first beer was one that he wanted to try, the El Luchador, a tequila barrel aged session ale. This was the only tequila barrel aged beer at the fest and he was eager to indulge. It was good and he liked it a lot. We met up with our friends aka “beer royalty” table as it was called by the man and legend himself, Bend Brew Daddy. We had many tastes and a fabulous lunch from Barrio and perused what was offered for merchandise and for sale.
We met BreAnne from Barbarian brewery in Garden City, Idaho. They are a relatively new brewery with a 5 barrel system that specializes in sour and barrel aged beers. They were offering a Mint Lime Gose (I had a sip of Jon’s, very cleansing) and Sour Noir, which was a fantastic sour that was a darker based beer that had a “light pucker”, but not too much and balanced out by the end of the sip.
Some standouts besides those already mentioned for me were The Sour Sunset from Mazama Brewing. I really really liked this one and wished I’d gone back for another pour (will have to seek out!). Breakfast in Bruges from Deschutes Brewery was great. Lyrical Genius from Worthy provided some interesting notes for me. Jon and I both wanted to taste this and I had sips of his. My first impression was, “lots going on” and it had a deep barrel taste that I don’t like (I don’t mind a lighter or non-burnt taste for me). Jon noted it was very cold and put his hands around it to warm up. Once it warmed up, I noted it was very good and much better taste (not as harsh as when very cold) for me. We ended the day with Fremont Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star, which at 14.5% abv, it was the booziest of the bunch, yet very balanced and thin for that high percentage.
It was a relatively quiet and manageable (ie, not crowded or rowdy) brewfest, but we do attend early enough, before any potential crowds get there in the evening hours. The one thing noted was that there was announcement of an X-Tap and there was nothing in the brochure, website or any information at that particular table. We were only there for one announcement (four hours) and a friend said the next tapping was 5pm, but at 4pm, we did not know what they would be pouring. We might have planned a bit if we knew a particular beer that was rare or sounded good to us and could have come Friday night or adjusted our hours of attendance on Saturday.
It was a great fest overall and this was some of what I tasted. I’m a bit surprised I did not try any ciders, as I’m a cider fan, but those sours called to me this time around.
Jon’s notes: There were hits and misses in the beers for me this year. Here are three of my highlights.
As mentioned above, the first beer I had, the El Luchador from Wild Ride Brewing, was one I enjoyed as it was a departure from the usual wood-aged fare. The tequila notes were definitely present, a spicy mix of the liquor and the wood, with hints of the lime session ale underneath coming through. I wouldn’t quite call it “margarita” like but it was boozy-ish.
Worthy Brewing’s Lyrical Genius was quite good, aged for 18 months in sangiovese wine barrels with a blend of wild yeasts and bacteria. It’s more or less styled after a Flanders red, with balanced ascetic (vinegar) notes and characters from the wine barrel.
My final beer of the day was Three Creeks Brewing’s Tennessee Whiskey FivePine Chocolate Porter. (I’d had that giant Fremont Dark Star before, which was all that was promised, yes.) This one was mellow, well-balanced, and thinned out by the whiskey but struck a nice balance between the porter and the booze. Worth a snifter if you run across this in the future.