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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheers to Belgian Beers

Fri, May 1 and Saturday, May 2, Noon – 10 p.m.
Lucky Labrador Beer Hall

1945 NW Quimby, Portland, OR 97209
Admission is free. There is a $5 charge for a tasting goblet, which is required to sample beers, and $1 for tastes. Tickets can be purchased at the festival entrance.
How did this happen? Although I've been anticipating it for weeks, somehow the Cheers to Belgian Beers event has managed to sneak up on me. It begins tomorrow (!). Brian Butenschoen has posted a lot of nice information about the event at the Brewers Guild website, and I will now steal profligately from the best parts.

The Event
In years one and two, it was two-sentence simple: participating breweries all used the same yeast strain to brew a beer of their own design, and fest-goers picked a winner. The winning brewery got to select the yeast strain and host the event the next year.

This year, things got more complicated. Breweries are all still using the same yeast, but the Brewers Guild decided to try to create a little variety by compelling breweries to brew within one of four quadrants of very general strength/color divisions. (They held a dart toss to determine who got what.) Beers will be either lighter or darker than amber and stronger or lighter than 6%.

As a drinker, I think this is a good call. Breweries at last year's event gravitated toward a similar type of beer, and I suffered style fatigue before long. (Some of the breweries, sotto voce, grumbled.)

The Yeast
From the Brewers Guild: "This year’s yeast will be Wyeast 3822 Ingelmunster Ale (formerly known as Wyeast 3822 Dutch Castle), which is a unique Belgian ale yeast that produces spicy/phenolic aromas, tart and dry on the palate with phenol and ester production balanced, for a complex beer." You would expect Doc Wort to provide a dissertation on the background of this yeast, and so he has. Briefly, it's the yeast used by the brewer of Kasteelbier. I would love to tell you more, but of the dozens of Belgians I have tried, Kasteel is not among them.

The Beers
We have the official list, and as your eye is drawn down the page, you will notice a few familiar names. Breweries are taking advantage of the event to release regular beers to their line-up, a wonderfully unexpected side-benefit of Cheers to Belgian Beers.

Finally, I'll leave you with a little video I shot at last year's event. It gets a little draggy there in the middle, but I was enchanged by how the couple enjoyed and discussed their beer, so I left the whole thing in there. See you at the fest!


  1. "Streaking the Quad," heh…

    I was a bit taken aback with the rapidity of its approach as well, thinking FredFest was this weekend… then I was a bit disheartened thinking I'd have to consume copious amounts before Game 7 (don't even talk to me about the odds)… but this year it starts on Friday! :-D Crisis averted… I can split up the samples between the two days, and suddenly all is right with the world.


  2. The doctor will be there with pen and notepad in hand....

    Will you be attending Fredfest, Jeff?