The Brew Site

OBF 2007: Day 2

My Day Two (Saturday) of the Oregon Brewers Festival was, as I indicated, more of a social day that a "pro blogger" day: my friend Justin and I went together. I still had my notebook, camera, and pack with me, and I took notes on the beers I was sampling, though that’s about it.

The beer portion of the day did not, in fact, start with the Brewfest, but instead with a trip to John’s Market. Justin had been telling me about this for a time, and we finally made the pilgrimage. It’s a relatively unassuming neighborhood convenience store in Multnomah Village and you wouldn’t know it from looking at it, but they have possibly the biggest beer selection I have ever seen in one place.

Stupidly, I forgot to bring my camera, but snapped a few cameraphone pics. Mostly I just got lost in the awe of the vast variety of beer they have available. I ended up buying six bottles that I’ll cover in more detail later. And I will most definitely be back.

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We got to the Brewfest about 12:15, and waited in line for about 15 minutes to get our wristbands and enter the park. (Wristbands went on the left wrist that day; they alternated between left and right from day to day to keep track.)

The day started out overcast, temperate, and slightly humid—typical Portland weather, and perfect for wandering around outdoors in the park with throngs of people (especially considering the heat of the day before). It was around 2:30 when the clouds finally broke and the sun came out, revealing a perfect Portland summer day.

There were definitely more people on Saturday than Friday, and I’d say there was more of a festive air to the day than the previous one, as well—though that may only be because I was there more socially myself.

For lunch we had fish and chips (one of the vendors was selling that exclusively), and followed that up a bit later with the ubiquitous elephant ears (I’m a sucker for them). We also enjoyed a cigar later in the afternoon; the one cigar vendor there was doing a brisk business and there were actually a fair number of people smoking them.

By 4 o’clock the Brewfest was packed; Justin waited in line for 20 minutes just to buy some more tokens while I went ahead to the southern tent and ran into a literal wall of people. This wall was a line for beer, and as I pushed through, I wondered with a slight sense of dismay, "Good grief, is every line this long?"

Fortunately, they weren’t; once I’d made my way through the wall, it was clearer. Lines for the popular beers are horrendously long, but fortunately not all of the beers are popular. By then I was getting full mugs of beer, both to use my remaining tokens and to minimize the amount of time I’d have to wait in line.

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It was while I was waiting for Justin in the middle of the southern tent that I saw the Bourbon Barrel Abbey Dubbel run out; as one of the servers climbed up and put the "Out" sign up, a collective "Noooooooooo!" went up from the crowd in front of that tap.

Justin joined me, beer in hand, and we decided that we’d use the last of our tokens (we each had four) for a final mug of beer and then leave. It was about 4:30, and we settled on the beer that turned out to be the most popular of the Brewfest: the Razberry Wheat from Cascade Brewing at the Raccoon Lodge.

The line for that beer literally ran from the tap all the way back to the first row of tables—a good 25 or 30 feet, I think—and then down the side of the table. We lined up with everybody else and waited for about 25 minutes—no kidding!—to get that beer. That was enough for me; even if I wanted to stay longer, I couldn’t have handled another wait like that one.

We left about 5:20 or so from the southern entrance, and I was astounded by the amount of people (two long lines) waiting just to get in to the Brewfest; at that point, I couldn’t see how you’d be able to do much but wait, wait, wait in one line or another. I’m glad to have gone early, both days.

We walked the rest of the length of the park and then crossed the Hawthorne Bridge on foot. That’s really quite a nice walk, actually, one I’d recommend. Raegan met us at the parking area at the base of the bridge on the east side of the river, and off we went.

The beers

The beers I tasted for that second day:

You can see the last three mugs were full, not just tasters. That’s the way to go, in my opinion, when it starts getting later in the day and the lines are getting long.