Oregon Garden Brewfest continues today; some beers to look for

Beers at the Oregon Garden BrewfestWe spent a good day at the Oregon Garden Brewfest yesterday, and it’s going on for two more days! They just opened up at noon so if you’re planning to head down there (you should), here are some preliminary beers and breweries to be looking out for.

If there is an underlying theme this year, it may well be “new breweries” as I’d probably count at least 13 of the 65 as “new” for only being a couple of years old at most, and those were the one I was most looking forward to trying.

Of course the other theme of the fest would have to be “IPA” (isn’t it always?) as I counted 39 IPA of various categories listed (regular, American, Black, Double, Imperial, Session, etc.). But to balance that out, there are a good selection of sessionable beers as well (some of those of course being in that “Session IPA” pseudo-category).

Oregon Garden Brewfest - Crux

I will have a longer review/write-up later, but for today if you’re looking for some good picks to sample here are some suggestions:

  • Fort George Suicide Squeeze IPA – Yes this is a “session” IPA with a nice juicy hop character squeezed into 4.5% abv. One of the best of these new session IPAs that I’ve tasted.
  • Deluxe Pure Sin Schwarzbier – We met the owners of the brand-new Deluxe Brewing out of Albany (sat with them at dinner the night before and visited a bit yesterday) and they are notable because they are brewing all lagers. Their Schwarzbier is really good, 4.7% abv, nicely mellow and rich. I liked their Resurrection Pre-Prohibition Pilsner too, but the Pure Sin edged it out. (Of course you can and should try both!)
  • Salem Ale Works Hootenanny Honey Basil – 4.2% and really, really nice, the basil is subtle but fresh and adds a surprisingly delicious savory-sweet character. I actually picked this one for me “people’s choice” ballot.
  • Falling Sky Dreadnut Foreign Export Stout – if you want something darker and stronger, this is a good choice. 7.2% with a good sweet roast character and a surprisingly tropical/coconut character.
  • Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison with Mandarins & Peppercorns – A big Belgian styled Saison done right. 7.5% and a nice sipping beer, a welcome variation from big and hoppy.

Of course I sampledĀ a lot more (23 in all) but those are some highlights and well worth checking out.

They changed up the layout a bit this year, particularly in the tent, and I think it works better: the beers being poured are wrapped around the inside of one end, the stage is on the middle wall, and the other end is the “porch” with propane heaters and picnic table seating and just seems to flow better than previous years. Here’s from the “porch” end early on yesterday, when it was still pretty empty:

Inside the tent at Oregon Garden Brewfest

The main Pavilion is set up the same as previous years, beers and vendors at each end with the main music stage and standing tables in the central area. One thing I noticed was the older, more established breweries tended to be located in the Pavilion while the newer ones were out in the tent. Thus, since I was interested in the newer beers, we spent more time out there I think. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, a nice little getting-close-to-sunset shot:

Oregon Garden Brewfest at twilight

With a setting like the Oregon Garden, you can’t really go wrong. I’ll have my extended write-up with more photos later, there is more than plenty of time to visit today (it goes until 11pm) and tomorrow (noon to 5pm). Make sure you get out there!