Over the past weekend, the third edition of the Fruit Beer Fest visited Portland. When Ezra Johnson-Greenough planned the first one, his notion was to sever, once and for all, the association between fruit and frou-frou. Let's not give him all the credit--that association was already weakening. But anyone who stopped by the Fest this weekend would have been hard-pressed to find those sugary, soda-like beers that gave fruit a bad name in the first place.
It got hot and crowded early, so I bailed by midafternoon, sampling not close to all the beers. But the ones I had were complex examples of the brewing art. I think my fave was Deschutes' Currant Event, a slightly tart Baltic Porter made with currants. The fruit was a perfect bridge between the rich, dark-fruit malts and the lactic tart. It was creamy but quaffable--even under the sun. Oakshire's elderberry gose was similarly well done, with a troika of tart, salty, and fruity all dancing in perfect time. Block 15's Psidium was deeply funky and the Commons spelt-and-currant Bier Royale was a sharp farmhousey treat. Chad Yakobson was in the house with his all-brett Crooked Stave beers, and the one I had lived up to the billing. It smelled like it was going to be viciously dry and brett-y, but instead had only a mild yeast character and tons of citrus.
Now all we need to do is reclaim our native grain. Who's with me on Cornfest 2013?
*The fest has already outgrown its venue. The little concrete pit that forms the site, the Burnside Brewing parking lot and adjacent section of Seventh Ave, was packed by 1:30 on Saturday. By three, people had resorted to full pours because wait times were 10-15 minutes long. As much as I like the central location of the fest, unshaded concrete is a terrible place to drink beer. I spent the fest huddled with a gaggle of redheaded women under the patch of shade underneath the sole tent there.