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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

OBF Buzz Beers

Breweries adopt one of three or four strategies when they send a beer to the Oregon Brewers Fest. Sometimes they send their flagship, hoping it will convert some of the masses. Sometimes they send a new beer they're launching, hoping to convert the masses. Or sometimes, they send something unexpected, hoping to delight the masses. Uniformly, it is from this last category that the "buzz beers" come from--those beers that get the chatter going at the Fest. No one goes for Pike IPA or Redhook Rye: serious drinkers want to see something new and funky.

Fortunately, it looks as if breweries are finally starting to get with the program. This year looks to have more potential buzz beers than any previous year. Here are ten possibilities that I'll be looking to try ASAP. My money's on the White Lightning.
  1. Bell's Hell Hath No Fury...Ale (dubbel) - Bell's Brewery (Michigan)
  2. Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale - Boundary Bay (Bellingham, WA)
  3. Elysian Bifrost (winter ale) - Elysian (Seattle)
  4. 10th Anniversary Farmhouse Summer Ale - Flying Fish (NJ)
  5. Vesuvius (Belgian golden) - Full Sail
  6. White Lightning Whisky Stout - McMenamins
  7. Ned (Flanders Red) - Rock Bottom (Portland)
  8. Pliny the Elder - Russian River (CA)
  9. Standing Stone Double IPA - Standing Stone (Ashland)
  10. Hooligan (pale) - Widmer
It's a bit hard to guess which monstrous IPA is going to capture the attention of drinkers, but Pliny the Elder's my guess--it is a faithful heir to the Sasquatch throne, a hoary blast of lupulin fury, apt for palates shattered late in the day. I also gave Widmer the nod because they have long been champions of the "special beer" strategy, and had a run of four or five years where they were one of the two or three most talked-about beers. I'll keep grandfathering them in until they send over kegs of Hefeweizen.

Your best bets?


  1. Did Widmer have a Wit at the Brewer's Dinner? I saw Full Sail's on your list, but Karl Ockert mentioned something about it to me last night on his way home (just the Brewmaster popping his head into the Brew House for a friendly visit). Since we've been churning out Supris since December, he had a wry smile on his face over the influx of Belgian styles coming out of Oregon recently.

  2. I didn't make it to the brewer's dinner, so we'll have to wait for a report. Though I know you're a proud BridgePorter, I have to say I'm not prepared to give credit to the brewery for starting a Belgian wave (should one ever actually crest). But you go, man.

  3. The Elysian is on my list. Some people think I'm nuts for wanting to try a winter warmer in the summer, but I like what (I think) I like.

  4. I wasn't implying we were the originators of the trend, just simply pointing out that we were the first Regional Brewer (which is what? 25-50K+ Barrels/Year?) in Oregon to deal with Belgian Yeast in volumes greater than 1000 Barrels. Widmer & Full Sail are definitely big boys in the scheme of things, so it's more of a horn tooting here for Brewers in The Pearl. I'm only trying to hit my gravities, pitch my yeast and let it all work out.