Slowly but surely, I’m getting all of this written up. Here (finally) are my notes on the beers of the Brewfest that I sampled. The beers, of course, being largely the whole point of the festival.
My formatting should be self-evident… after my notes, I’ll (very) roughly score the beer on a 1 to 10 scale, to give an idea of my overall impressions.
Honey Orange Wheat: Eugene City Brewery (Rogue‘s Eugene brewpub)
Wheat/Fruit; 4.8% ABV
Smell is light with coriander on the nose. Taste is crisp, grainy, a bit of coriander and a hint of fruity sour. Refreshing, but not much orange… more of an orange blossom.
Galena Single Hop Pale Ale: Boundary Bay Brewery
American Pale Ale, made special for the Brewfest; 5% ABV
Nice and spicy and bitter—you can definitely taste the hop here. Very drinkable—hoppy like an IPA (and Galena is a delicious hop)—but without the strength.
Donner Party Porter: Fifty Fifty Brewing
Porter; 6% ABV
The guy joked, "It’ll eat you alive!" as he poured, and really, with a name like that, how could you resist? It’s dark and creamy—a bit sweet and a hint of bitter/burnt flavor. Rich and roasty and has a slightly dry, puckery mouthfeel.
Oregon Trail Wit: Oregon Trail Brewery
Belgian/Oregon Style Hefeweizen; 5.1% ABV
A good Belgian wit, nice and spicy with coriander as it should be. A hint of pepper too, I think. Very crisp and drinkable. It’s an award winner and I believe it.
Red Thistle Quercus: Golden Valley Brewery
Pinot oak barrel aged red/ESB; 5.8% ABV
Wow! You can really taste the pinot in this! It’s even in the nose… very wine-y, in a good way. The beer is good on its own—a malty, nice ESB—but the pinot noir notes really spring out at you—a great fusion here that makes it like tasting a rich red wine. I wonder if I can get this by the bottle?
[Note: I know you can get regular Red Thistle by the bottle; I was curious about the pinot barrel aged version here. Or was it special for the Brewfest?]
Noggin Grog: Widmer
Imperial Wit, made special for the Brewfest; 9% ABV
Familiar wit aroma cut with something strong that reminds me of—perversely?—bologna or salami! On the tongue, strength is immediately evident—not much in the way of coriander but it is a bit spicy and you can tell it’s a wit—supercharged. Wow.
[Note: I thought I was crazy over the bologna aroma at first, but the next day when Justin tried it, he was smelling it with a quizzical, slightly perplexed look, and when I suggested bologna, he said, "Yes! Exactly!" It sounds weird, I know, but this was a complex beer and I really rather liked it.]
[Another note: Even though this was a 9% beer—highest at the fest, I think—they didn't charge you 2 tokens for the taster, like the other high-alcohol beers. Sweet!]
Crater Lake Golden Ale: Klamath Basin Brewing
Extra Golden Ale; 6.2 % ABV
Strikes me as more a red ale than a golden. Amber in color, taste is on the malty side with a hop bite… they should market this as a red or pale ale, I think.
Wildfire: Four + Brewing
Organic Extra Pale Ale; 4.3% ABV
Strong floral component in aroma that reminds me of… clover? Nice golden color, and nice and hoppy. Malt base is light and crisp, and hops take the forefront… woody and clean.
Bourbon Barrel Abbey Dubbel: Flying Fish Brewing
Belgian Style Dubbel, made special for the Brewfest; 7% ABV
Smells like bourbon, a hint of Jack Daniels. Taste is… wow. Nothing but good. Bourbon-y/wine-y and rich with malt and smoked peat like a smoky Scotch. Oaky and malty and just… really, really good.
Spruce Ale: Siletz Brewing
"Other" Style; 5.3% ABV
Has a pitchy character in the aroma… taste is light and a bit woody (go figure) and… a greenish, I don’t know, tang that I don’t entirely care for. Pungent and piney/tangy.
[Note: I later saw a review that wondered if they used whole spruce branches in the brew, and that's pretty much what clicked for me, too.]
Hennepin Farmhouse Saison: Brewery Ommegang
Farmhouse Saison; 7.7% ABV
A classic saison, Belgian all the way. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Saison Dupont—few are—but it’s good. All the classic qualities are here… no surprises, just a solid, well-done saison.
Watermelon Wheat: 21st Amendment Brewery
Fruit Beer; 5% ABV
Better than I remember it being last year; light and clean, but not much watermelon. Lightly fruity, but not much, to my thinking.
Fearless Scottish Ale: Fearless Brewing
Scottish Export; 5% ABV
Nice, creamy and malty. A pretty tasty and textbook Scottish ale.
Industrial IPA: Diamond Knot Brewing
Imperial IPA; 8.2% ABV
Hoppy! Woody and full of resin. Dry—didn’t notice the alcohol strength, either. Hops are the defining character here.
[Note: They even have a bag of hops in the keg.]
C’est Bon Blonde: BJ’s Brewhouse
Belgian Blonde, special to the Brewfest I think; 6.5% ABV
Belgian-y, tangy, slightly fruity and dry. Basic, not outstanding, but good.
Betsy Ross Imperial Golden Ale: Philadelphia’s
Imperial Golden Ale, "Imperialized" for the Brewfest; 7% ABV
Sweet nose like a strong Belgian—strong in alcohol but otherwise a nice Belgian golden. Grainy, a little hoppy (is that appropriate to the style?), but decent.
[Note: Upon reflection, I'd say "grainy, a little hoppy" translates to "rough around the edges" in this case.]
Monkey House: McMenamins Fulton Pub & Brewery
Northwest IPA, made special/debuting at the Brewfest; 8% ABV
Full of hops, and darker [than a typical IPA], caramelized, malty and rich. But the hops dominate—though with more subtlety in the hopping, I’d say, than just a strong "Northwest" hopping. Good.
Farmer’s Daughter: Max’s Fanno Creek Brewpub
Belgian Saison Golden Strong Ale; 7% ABV
Farmhouse ale—spicy and horsey nose, flavor is crisp with a bite. Herbal, slightly spicy and dry. Pretty good.
Bitch Creek ESB: Grand Teton Brewing
ESB; 6% ABV
Now this is weird… it’s darker and I swear there’s a strong flavor of black licorice here… don’t know if I like it or not. Definitely different with that licorice—or perhaps dark molasses or something, not sure.
[Note: I happen to like black licorice, but this was an off-flavor inappropriate to the style. Which was disappointing, since this was supposed to be an award-winning ESB.]
Double Red Ale; 7% ABV
Dusty with hops—nice red ale background, but "dusty" is literally the word that comes to mind. Very hoppy, definitely a hophead’s ale.
Imperial Porter: Rogue
Imperial Porter, made special for the Brewfest; 7.5% ABV
Rich, dark, full bodied. Lots of roasted—dark roasted—grain and coffee here. Rich and dry and strong. Definitely a beer for those who like dark, roasty ales. Smoky, a tad creamy. Very good, very Rogue.
Dry Hopped Dusty Trail Pale Ale: Amnesia Brewing
Pale Ale; 5.2% ABV
Crisp and grainy and cooling/refreshing (it’s hot out). A nice grain/wheat edge to it. Hops are right there, in the aftertaste especially.
Razberry Wheat: Cascade Brewing at the Raccoon Lodge
Fruit Beer; 4.5% ABV
Very pretty, clear red—heavy use of raspberries, no doubt. The line was long! Easily the longest of the day; 20 minutes at least. The beer does have the delicate aroma of raspberry, and it tastes pretty good—mostly tangy, sourish fruit. Probably a little too much on the sour side, for my tastes, but not bad at all.