This past Saturday McMenamins Old St. Francis School here in Bend hosted their first High Gravity Extravaganza event, featuring all strong (or high-gravity) beers pouring for a special mini-fest. They had 17 beers pouring total, special pint glasses (with the four-ounce pour line of course), and instead of tickets or tokens had a special punchcard system worked up: each card held 10 punches, worth $1.25 each good for a four ounce taster (or four for a full pour), and honestly I think that was a better way to handle pours that just straight tickets. You had a single card, no extra tickets to lose, and it’s very easy to see how many you have left without fumbling around.
The 17 beers came from Old St. Francis and a number of guest breweries: other McMenamins breweries and a number of Central Oregon breweries. All in all it was a really nice, low-key fest with some terrific beers pouring, the weather was great, and I’d love to see this come back again next year.
People were able to vote on their favorite beers, as well; my favorite was the Hickory-Aged Quit Yer Barley Whinin’, from McMenamins on the Columbia in Vancouver. Here are the beers I had, in order:
- Lord Snow Imperial Stout, McMenamins Edgefield
- Sweater Weather Oatmeal Imperial Stout, Smith Rock Brewing
- Big Bad Russian Imperial Stout, Bend Brewing
- Dark Muse Imperial Stout, Worthy Brewing
- Quit Yer Barley Whinin’, McMenamins on the Columbia
- Black Jack Russian Imperial, McMenamins Thompson House
- The Black Hole, McMenamins Roseburg
- Blast Furnace Double IPA, McMenamins High Street Brewery
- Double Helix Double IPA, McMenamins Concordia Brewery
- Aristocrat Imperial IPA, McMenamins Old St. Francis School
Some photos, and a final disclaimer: I did get a pint glass and punchcard comped by McMenamins, and we spent some money on food.
The Edgefield’s Drew Phillips looking cheerful to be pouring his beer, Lord Snow.
The Crystal Brewery’s Mark Goodwin looking as serious as the Highlander he was pouring (which he brewed).
Three shades of beer. And prosciutto and grape pizza! (It was really good.)