I attended Bend’s The Little Woody for a couple of hours Friday evening, and wrote up a “first look” (with recommendations for others attending) over on my local Bend blog which I encourage you to go read if you’re interested in how the Fest shaped up. But of course I have some notes to mention here as well.
On my other blog I wrote:
Unlike some beer festivals I’ve attended, this one is focused on quality, not quantity, with a carefully curated selection of beers that highlight both the diversity of what beer can be, as well as the amazing number of breweries that Central Oregon has to offer.
This is one of the key points of The Little Woody as a beer festival for me, in that it’s a smaller, more intimate venue that wasn’t pervasive with any of the party-goer atmosphere that you’d encounter at, say, the Oregon Brewers Festival on a Saturday late afternoon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—it’s part of the experience—but at the same time you’re not dealing with the noise or the jostling crowds or the long lines you’d encounter at a bigger festival.
What also impressed me was the number of “smaller” beer that were present as well—in this case for a festival where you’d expect barrel-aged big beers to dominate, I’m considering “smaller” 7% abv or less, in which I counted at least 15 such beers (out of 27 total). There were plenty of big beers to be sure, but I find these lighter-in-alcohol brews are often complex and subtle with flavors that aren’t drowned out by ethanol.
This is their Stonefly Rye aged on vanilla beans and oak spirals that have been soaked in Grand Marnier. It’s only 4.6% alcohol by volume but it’s super flavorful and refreshing; the liqueur and vanilla both come through but not overwhelmingly, and it’s light enough to be a good hot-weather beer but still has a touch of spice from the rye (like a rye bread) and body from the wood.
I haven’t heard any bad reviews of the Little Woody or any of the beers this year which speaks to the quality of brews being produced by Central Oregon breweries. To be sure there were several I tasted that were a bit unbalanced, but not undrinkable (and in fact I talked to some people who really liked those).
All in all, it was a successful festival with great beers, and one I look forward to seeing again next year.