I was cordially invited to the media tour at the OBF today, and I must say there was a paucity of bloggers. In fact, except for the Mercury folks (young, attractive) and Gary Corbin (not young, attractive), I was all alone. Some of the writers from bigger publications even gave me the snub.* Actually, while I'm thinking about it, follow this second footnote, wouldja?**
(Foyston, bless his heart, already has text and photos from the event.)
But anyway, I digress. To the beers!
Laurelwood PNW Pils. Strangely, Noel Blake, who was leading the media tour, and whose beer can actually be tasted at the festival (he was the author of Collaborator Rawkin' Bock), started us out with three huge hoppy ales, shattering our palates. And he knows better. This beer, which hopheads will love, was actually not pilsnery enough for me. Too sweet and fuzzy on the tongue.
Hopworks Urban Brewery. This is not the beer they had at the Organic Beer Fest. It's much more balanced, less tannic, and quite tasty. Creamy, slightly candyish malt and peppery hopping. Nice!
Standing Stone IPA. Billed as 95 IBUs, but not remotely that hoppy. Instead, a very nicely balanced IPA. My notes were already degrading at this point, and what I have to offer you is this: "Best so far."
Flying Fish Bourbon Barrel Double. Finally Noel ratcheted back off the hops. As I hoped, this malty, dark-fruit dubbel was the perfect beer to age in a bourbon cask--it pulled out the vanilla notes and produced a winey, rich ale.
Trumer Pils. Wonderfully fresh and refreshing, though not particularly hoppy. The kind of beer most festgoers will miss, but worth an (early!) taster. ["fresh and refreshing" is the kind of write-up readers must suffer through when a blogger returns from a beer fest an immediately writes up his notes. -editor.]
Rawkin' Bock. This was Noel's homebrew recipe, translated to Widmer-scale brewing. What resulted was a slightly overhopped (and therefore very pleasing) bock of 36 IBUs; it's darker and roastier than the deep Mai Bock Noel envisioned. Sadly, there are only four kegs of it, and if you don't get down there tonight, it'll probably blow.
Later. At this point, I was enjoying the company and my notes ceased. (At one point, freelancers heard a publisher say she was paying a buck a word, and we went into a frenzy. It wasn't true, but bouyed by the frenzy, things turned social.) I tried the Golden Valley Quercus, and thought it very nice. The wine comes out in a rich, sweet note, softening but at the same time acidifying the beer. Definitely a must-try.
That's my main info. I should also mention that I met the publisher/editor and art director of a new Portland-based beer mag that will debut in October. It's called Beer Northwest, and Megan and Annalou assure me it will kick ass. I, in turn, assured them that I would send all my vast traffic to their website (which is, admittedly, a bit skimpy just now--their website, not my traffic, though it too is skimpy). So go give them a hit, and look for more info--I'll link through when they're up and running.
*A lie. John Foyston is really cool. In fact, he said that comments really matter to the Oregonian, so go comment and keep him blogging.
**Back when I started writing for Willamette Week, I was aware of this grave rivalry between WW and the Oregonian. But there was never any between John and me, nor any other beer writer I've encountered. Writing about beer, which is of far lower status than actually brewing it, creates the foundation for a kind of brotherhood. So cheers to all us failed professional brewers.