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Friday, July 18, 2008

The Complete Guide to the Portland International Beer Festival

Portland International Beer Fest, July 18-20
North Park Blocks, Portland
Friday 4pm-10pm
Saturday 12pm-10pm
Sunday 12pm-7pm

Beer drinkers pay $20 for 10 beer tickets and official PIB glass. More tickets available for $1 each. All beers are 4 oz. servings. Each beer costs 1 to 4 tickets depending on "swank factor." Usually at least half are just 1 ticket.

The Great Beers

For the beer fan who wants to increase her knowledge of world beer styles, there are few opportunities that offer so many landmark classics as the Portland International Beerfest. Most of the beers brewed in Oregon can trace their lineage backward to Europe and a traditional, local style. Knowing what the originals taste like is useful not only in undertanding the style, but in appreciating the innovation or original flourish you find in a local beer based on that style.

I don't often refer to these in my previews because so much has already been written. That's probably short-sighted, though. Few will have tried all these (including me), and it's worth mentioning something about the style why the beer's important. So here we go.

Rochefort 6 (Belgium)
There are only seven Trappist breweries in the world, and they brew what are loosely refered to as Abbey ales. The adjective "Trappist" is specific--the brewery must be overseen by actual Cistercian monks. Breweries that brew abbey ales or are resident in former abbeys cannot legally call themselves "Trappist." Brewing at the monastery dates back to 1595, and the monks of Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy still brew their beer, in three styles, 6 (red cap), 8 (green cap), and 10 (blue cap). The ten is the most commonly exported, and the 6 the least, just 1% of production--so this is a rare opportunity. The 6 is a reddish dubbel, lighter than the 8 or 10. I've yet to try it.

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