In Bend: 3rd Annual Whole Foods Market Summer Brewfest

Taking place in Bend today, yet another example of Bend’s great beer scene—the 3rd Annual Whole Foods Market Summer Brewfest! How many groceries/markets do you know hold their own brewfest?

Today’s fest takes place from 1 to 6pm at east Bend specialty market, and has some 20 breweries on hand pouring beer. Pricing is some of the cheapest you’ll find at a fest these days: $5 entry which nets you a glass and 2 samples, and additional tokens are only 50 cents. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Humane Society of Central Oregon.

3rd Annual Whole Foods Market Summer Brewfest

A trio of Twilight Ales (minuscule vertical)

Deschutes Brewery Twilight Summer AleWhen I had received the three Twilight Summer Ales from Deschutes Brewery, I noted that they all were freshly bottled within days of receiving them (all bottled on the same day, April 25). I thought it might be interesting to drink each of the three Twilights at different times, sort of a slow-motion mini-vertical tasting, to see how they changed over the few weeks the experiment would be carried out. So, I did just that, took some notes on each one as I drank it, and I’m finally writing up those results.

The beers were all stored cold so as to keep them as close to a “control” as possible.

Date: May 1. Notes:

(Aroma) Green hops, mustard greens, floral and mildly tropical. Nice toasty malts, moderately sweet. (Taste) Bready luscious malts on the tongue, crisp herbal hoppiness. Not terribly pungent though it smells like summer.

Date: May 15. Notes:

(Aroma) Herbal, mustard/wild mustard greens, spicy. Crystal malt nose, mild, sweet, bread crust. I think it got spicier/less “green” and fruity. (Taste) Malty and a touch thinner than previously, I think. Crusty bread and a clean bitterness that’s a bit herbal but also more neutral (clean).

Date: June 2. Notes:

(Aroma) Green and herbal but not really spicy, more like fresh-cut grass in that it’s fresh and refreshing. Malts a little more pronounced, with bready sweetness. (Taste) Malt at the forefront, toasty caramelized grains, with English-spicy hop bitterness that’s crisp and clean. Luscious with a bit of a dry finish.

I think it’s pretty clear that this was quite a bit more hop-forward barely a week after being bottled, with a fascinating progression from floral and fruity(ish) to spicy to herbal and mellow and more English in character. The malts do not follow a similar pattern, instead becoming more pronounced as the hops fade and not tasting “old” or “stale”, instead which I think actually improved (the maltiness, not necessarily the overall beer).

Not a bad progression by any means, though I could see how different people and tastes could appreciate different levels of age more (or less). You like a malty Twilight? Aim for a month old or more. More hop-forward? As fresh as possible. Neither of these bits of advice should be a revelation… nor should you think too hard on it. Just go pick up some Twilight Ale.

Celebrate some Bend beer anniversaries today

CRUXAPALOOZA IIIThis weekend is a good one for Bend brewery anniversaries, as three of our locals are celebrating a collective 31 years in business.

Deschutes Brewery celebrated their 26th anniversary yesterday, but you can still head down and enjoy their Black Butte XXVI (brewed with chocolate and cranberries this year) on tap today, as well as their new Foray Belgian IPA. I tried both last night, both are excellent.

Today you’ll want to check out Crux Fermentation Project, as for their 2nd anniversary they are holding their CRUXAPALOOZA III festival all day long, starting at 11:30. “Come out and join Crux Fermentation Project for our 2nd Anniversary Festival! It’s FREE, ALL AGES and music will run from 11:30am to 10:30pm. All performances will be on a special outdoor festival stage which features one of the best sound systems in the region.” Expect to see a specialty beer brewed just for the event and make sure to sample their current line-up, which looks great.

And GoodLife Brewing is celebrating their 3rd anniversary today from 4 to 10pm, featuring a special anniversary beer, food from local restaurant Rockin’ Dave’s, live music, and more. Here’s what they posted on Facebook this morning: “Today marks our 3 Year Anniversary!!! We are celebrating in the Biergarten starting at 4pm with live music, corn hole, bocce ball, and drinking our special Anniversary Beer! Come say hi and let us thank you for all of your support!”

Walla Walla’s small but growing brewing scene

We spent the past weekend in Walla Walla, Washington, hitting up wineries and partaking in a bit of the Celebrate Walla Walla Wine event they have every year (this year’s theme was Syrah). Though Walla Walla for about three decades now has been known for its wine, there is a small but growing beer scene developing there. Here’s a rundown of what the current scene looks like:

Mill Creek Brewpub. If their website is correct, they are celebrating 12 years this month, which means they were established in 2002. I visited them once back in 2005, though I believe the brewpub has since changed hands so things might be a bit different  now.

Laht Neppur Ale House

Laht Neppur Brewing. Located in nearby Waitsburg, they opened an Ale House in downtown Walla Walla not too long ago, and according to their website is looking to build a production facility in nearby Milton-Freewater, Oregon. They are best known for their fruit beers.

Nosdunk Brewing. They are a production brewery closed to the public and only about a year old. Their bottled beers can be found at a few places downtown, and it looks like a limited rotation.

Dragon’s Gate Brewery. This “farmhouse nano craft brewery” is a few years old now and is actually in the Milton-Freewater zipcode, just over the state line. (Walla Walla and M-F are really only a few miles apart.) They have beer tastings and dinners in Walla Walla frequently and you can sometimes find their bottled beers in town.

Burwood BrewingBurwood Brewing. Brand-new, they actually had their official grand opening on the Saturday while we were visiting. Alas, we didn’t get a chance to visit, but interestingly one of the people who poured samples of wine for us at a winery was planning to hit their opening and opined that Walla Walla needs more beer.

There used to be another, Walla Walla Brewers, that is now out of business.

We did not visit Burwood, but did stop in for a sampler tray at the Laht Neppur Ale House on Saturday—I’ll have a short writeup and some pictures from that visit in a separate post. And we hit a few downtown shops where I picked up a few of the local beers to bring home: Nosdunk’s Walla Wheat and Stout, Dragon’s Gate Wit, and a couple of cans of Bale Breaker Top Cutter IPA. I will be writing about these beers soon.

(Bale Breaker is actually located in Yakima, in the heart of hops country, but it’s not available in Bend and I’ve been hearing good things about it, so I picked it up when I had the opportunity.)

The other beer of note is the one I had with dinner Saturday night at Brasserie Four, a French restaurant in downtown Walla Walla. Very French. I was a bit wined out at that point and was debating beer, and when I found out they had Kronenbourg 1664 on draft—on draft, mind you, something I have not found in this part of the country that I can remember—I jumped at the chance to enjoy it. Yes, I know it’s the industrial pale lager of France (the Heineken of France, if you will), but that’s just it: from France. And I’m okay with it. I had two.

Kronenbourg 1664

The 10th Annual North American Organic Brewers Festival

North American Organic Brewers FestivalI’ve said it before, this time of year is beer festival season in Oregon, and this weekend is one of the big ones: the North American Organic Brewers Festival taking place in Portland from Thursday the 26th through Sunday the 29th.

Two of Portland’s beloved industries – organic beer and sustainability – come together in an annual celebration designed to raise awareness about organic beer and sustainable living. We serve up organic beers and ciders alongside live music, food, sustainability-oriented vendors, non-profits and a children’s area – all in a beautiful tree lined setting overlooking downtown Portland.

Admission into the event is free. The purchase of a $6 reusable, compostable cornstarch glass is required for tasting beer, as are tokens, which sell for $1 apiece. A full glass of beer costs four tokens and a four-ounce taste costs one token (select beers cost double tokens). Patrons receive a $1 discount toward the tasting glass with a validated Tri-Met ticket.

The event is cash only. We do have ATMs on site, however, you will be charged event fees, so we recommend you plan ahead and bring cash!

It all takes place at Overlook Park, and (because it’s organic and sustainably-themed) there is no parking on site provided—you are encouraged to take the Tri-Met, or bike or walk.

The beer list is terrific and features all beers that are entirely or mostly organic (they have a handy classification for each one if you’re tracking that sort of thing).

Finally, soccer fans rejoice: the Fest will be hooking up four flat screen TVs in order to show all the World Cup matches as well as the Friday Portland Timbers game. So you won’t miss a beat.

Be sure to make the NAOBF part of this weekend’s plans, if you can!