Oregon Garden Brewfest: What to drink

With this year’s Oregon Garden Brewfest only a week away, it’s time to look over that beer lineup I posted previously and make some lists—my picks for my own must-try beers, and general recommendations for the non-hardcore beer geeks. (Because of course when I’m getting ready for a beer fest, I like to make lists!)

My approach to fests is often to seek out and try beers I haven’t had before, and I especially like to hit the new breweries. There’s always a balance, of course, and it’s always good to mix it up with beers you’ve had and like to round it out.

With that in mind, here’s my must-list:

  • Base Camp Brewing: Ripstop Rye Pils — Interesting idea from one of Portland’s newest
  • Cascade Brewing: Oblique Coffee Black & White Stout — This while “white stout” thing (similar to coffee IPA which is blowing up recently?) certainly has me curious.
  • Crux Fermentation Project: Outcast IPA — Of course I can get this in Bend but it’s a super solid IPA and I’m definitely going to want some hops during the day
  • Falling Sky Brewing: Dark Heart
  • Falling Sky Brewing: Retrograde NW Red — I like what I’ve had by Falling Sky so far so I figure I can’t go wrong
  • Firestone Walker: Solace Wheat — Really nice wheat from a brewery more often known for hops
  • Flat Tail Brewing: Black Hand Maple Nut Porter — Flat Tail is definitely a “concept” brewer in a lot of ways and this sounds tasty
  • Fort George Brewery: Divinity Fruit Beer — I will always try a fruit beer, and this one made with Olalliberries is definitely a must-try
  • Gigantic Brewing: Dark Meddle Vienna Lager
  • Gigantic Brewing: Gigantic IPA — Gigantic is rock-solid, so I know I won’t go wrong with a new offering and their excellent IPA
  • Gilgamesh Brewing: Hopscotch Strong Ale — I definitely appreciate their efforts so I’m in
  • Logsdon Farmhouse Ales: Seizoen Bretta — Simply a great beer
  • McMenamins Thompson Brewery: TBD — I don’t know what they’re pouring but I became a big fan of brewer Jen Kent last year based on her pirate-inspired Imperial Stout so I won’t pass this up
  • Old Town Brewing: OTB Pilsner
  • Old Town Brewing: Boysenberry Black Ale — Suprisingly for as many times as I’ve been to Portland I’ve never tried Old Town’s beers. So they’re on the list, plus a fruit beer!
  • Rusty Truck Brewing: Moonlight Ride Blackberry Ale — I first tried this at the brewery last year, and this year I’m hoping for the more fruit I was looking for
  • Santiam Brewing: Spitfire ESB
  • Santiam Brewing: Pirate Stout — Salem’s newest brewery, so I’m looking forward to trying these
  • Sasquatch Brewery: Oregon Session Ale
  • Sasquatch Brewery: Woodboy IPA — One of Portland’s newest and I haven’t had any yet, so count me in

20 beers seems like a nice number to shoot for. We’ll see how far into this list I make it.

Now, for anyone who’s looking for more general recommendations that aren’t colored by the beer geek angle of seeking out the newest/weirdest/hoppiest/etc. beers, here’s such a list:

  • 10 Barrel Brewing: Wheat IPA — This is their new “O.G.” and is a nice lighter (relatively) beer with a nice hop presence, and will be a nice warm weather beer
  • 21st Amendment: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat — A perennial crowd favorite
  • Crux Fermentation Project: On the Fence Pale — On the hoppier side (hey, it’s Oregon) but a nice beer for anyone, er, on the fence about pales
  • Double Mountain Brewery: Vaporizer Dry Hopped Pale — Crisp, hoppy without being intimidating, super drinkable beer
  • Elysian Brewing: Super Fuzz Blood Orange Pale — Excellent fruit character without being cloying and balanced with bitter orange peel character
  • Firestone Walker: Solace Wheat — Excellent representation of a wheat ale
  • Flat Tail Brewing: Tailgater Kölsch — Light and easy-drinking which a lot of people will look for without giving up flavor
  • Full Sail Brewing: Lager Series LTD 5
  • Full Sail Brewing: Pub Series ESB — Full Sail brews great beers and both of these would be great choices
  • Gigantic Brewing: Gigantic IPA — If you’re looking for that IPA fix, this is the one
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery: Organic HUB Lager — Super solid, easy-drinking lager that’s full of flavor
  • Kona Brewing: Koko Brown — A delicious coconut-infused brown ale you won’t be sorry to go back for again
  • Oakshire Brewing: Line Dry Rye — Always a good choice, slightly spicy from the rye but a nicely drinkable beer
  • Pelican Pub & Brewery: Winema Wit — It’s nice to have a Belgian Wit styled beer represented, and Pelican’s version is a good one
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing: Pale Ale — An American classic!
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing: Alchemy Pale Ale — Widmer’s newest is going to be a hit, I think.

And, in case you’re looking for some alternatives, there are several ciders and meads present, so if you’re not a big beer fan, or need gluten-free offerings, these are worth looking into. I haven’t tried all of these, but here are some to look for:

  • 2 Towns Ciderhouse: The Incider & The Bad Apple — This cidery from Corvallis has been getting the good word
  • Blue Dog Mead: Green Collar Mead & Yellow Collar Mead — Blue Dog out of Eugena has some nice-drinking offerings
  • Nectar Creek Honeywine: Wildflower Session Mead & Ginger Session Mead — Also out of Corvallis, they’ve been doing some interesting meads as well
  • Wandering Aengus Ciderworks: Anthem Cherry & Anthem Hops — Yes, cider with hops in it!

I’m really looking forward to the OGBF this year, and making these lists only stokes the excitement. What beers are you really looking forward to trying?

Oregon Garden Brewfest

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