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Friday, April 02, 2010

Spring Beer & Wine Fest

Off the top of my head, I can think of eight major beer fests that happen in Oregon every year--and there are twice again that number if you include specialized mini-fests. As a consequence, I've become more choosy and axed the Spring Beer and Wine Fest a couple years ago. Despite its status as one of the original three major seasonal fests, it had really fallen into a slump. It developed two major problems. To help pay for the event, organizers threw open the doors to vendors from random businesses, giving the fest a flea market feel--exacerbated by the venue, which is already inclined in that direction. But worse, the beer wasn't interesting. Breweries just sent their regular flagships, defeating the purpose of the fest.

Things may be changing. I still expect the same atmosphere, and there are still a lot of familiar beers. But there are also some intriguing new offerings (new to me, anyway):
  • Block 15 Nebula (an oatmeal stout) and King Caspian (an imperial red). This is the brewery Derek boldly called Oregon's best, and I'm psyched to finally get a taste.
  • Calapooia Simcoe Springs IPA. (I'm assuming it's made with Simcoe hops.)
  • Deschutes Miss Spelt Hefeweizen. (A traditional hefe brewed with 40% spelt).
  • Gilgamesh IPA and Black Mamba (a hopless beer brewed with black tea).
  • Ninkasi Kraken for PK Nice (Absolutely no idea.)
  • Redhook 8-4-1 Expedition Ale (the brewery's newest specialty release; an imperial brown made with brown sugar.)
There are others I haven't had a chance to try which fit into the relatively new category, too: Lompoc Saison the Beach, McMenamin's Soft Rock Belgium, Oakshire O'Dark 30. Then there are the old faves, which I would be persuaded to tipple just cause they're fine: Fort George Vortex IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack, North Coast Brother Thelonius. And I guess you could go just to explore these head-scratchers: Panty Dropper Ale, Howe Sound Brewing (beers unnamed).

Upshot? It may be time to throw the Spring Beer Fest back into rotation. The charming and knowledgeable Lisa Morrison will be leading a press tasting at 11, and so I'll know more in a few hours. I'll provide an update to this post with my findings sometime this afternoon.
Spring Beer and Wine Festival
Oregon Convention Center (777 NE MLK)
Friday and Saturday, noon to 11pm.
$5 entry, $5 plastic or $8 glass mug, $1 samples.



  1. Interesting that you don't like this one because it is probably my favorite. I enjoy the vendors and the space because it quite possibly the least crowded of the major fests. It is nice to actually get to try beer unlike at the Winter or Summer one where you spend most of your time in line. The lines are short at the Spring one, and I like having the vendors to check out as well. Give you something to do with your friends while tasting your beer.

  2. Ninkasi is pouring Spring Reign and PK N'Ice, a malt liquor. Put it in bold too...

  3. Last year was my first experience at Spring Beer and Wine, and unless they do a major re-tool it may be my last. So far I've been underwhelmed with all three of the beer fests I've been too. Not seeing a reason to go to any this year. The only one that may get me out this year is the Organic Brewers Festival since it seems to have more original beers then the others.

  4. Re: Calapooia-Simcoe Springs IPA

    Our description reads:
    Calapooia-Simcoe Springs [2X] IPA-85 IBUs; 6.5% ABV; Calapooia Brewing Co., Albany. Clear golden color; pine, tangerine, apricot aromas/ tastes ; bright, sharp bitterness; excellent single hopped IPA.

  5. Jeff: I forgot that Block 15 advertised King Caspian instead of Pappy's Dark. I sure would have liked to try the Caspian and Nebula, but if the worst thing that happens to me today is that I have to drink only Pappy's Dark, it's a pretty good day.

    Calapoooia brought Riparian IPA instead of Simcoe Springs, Ninkasi PK Nice and Redhook 8-4-1 were dull, and you can get Miss Spelt often at the Deschutes pub.

    I forgot to swing back by McMenamin's for the Belgian -- was it good? And I never even saw Oakshire -- were they there?

  6. Wally, good to hear. I'm about to post the afternoon comments, and I'll keep your view in mind.