Yesterday's high temperature was 59, and it rained .4 inches in a steady drizzle from about 11 am through five or six in the afternoon-- perfectly coordinated to coincide with the second day of the Organic Beer Festival in Overlook Park. I dunno what the temperature was during that period, but it was cold enough that we could see our breath. Needless to say, the folks who showed up were serious beer fans. (In the picture at right, look closely and you can seethe rain coming down and the wee crowd beyond.) To those who looked out their windows and decided to go see Shrek 3 instead of braving the rain, you have my sympathy: you missed a hell of fest.
This was hands down the best fest of NW beers I've been to in years. In terms of overall consistency of beers, it may have been the best ever (even PIB, with its 200+ beers and dozen countries, always has a few losers in the bunch). This may have been due to a selection process--were the beers juried? More likely, it is a reflection of a particular moment in time: breweries don't lightly brew organic beers. Since they take special effort, it seems like breweries take special care with the recipes. We had habenero stouts, gingerbread browns, potato beers, and Belgian IPAs. And they weren't gimmick beers; they were serious and seriously good. (I'll go through the reviews in the next post.)
It is inevitable that this moment will not last. All trends revert to the mean. Eventually, if we're lucky, organic beer will become the norm, not the exception. And then we'll have the usual distribution of mediocre efforts and noble failures. But for now, and probably for the next couple-three years, seek out organic beers. And for the love of all that is pure and good (and hoppy), don't let the rain dissuade you next year.