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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Fruit Stigma Wanes

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.


  1. Agreed about the venue; I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible but still managed to get pretty badly sunburned. I got in at 10am (well, actually, 10:20 a.m. because the VIP line was so goddamn long, which probably warrants a separate complaint altogether) and bailed around 1pm, and in doing so managed to miss pretty much all of the wait times that came shortly thereafter. But you're absolutely right, that little parking lot is an inadequate amount of space for the droves that (naturally) want to hit this great festival.

    There were some truly spectacular beers here. Both the 10 Barrel Cucumber Crush and the Apricot Crush (the latter of which I'd already had at the Farmhouse & Wild Ales fest) were stunning, as were the Commons Bier Royale and the Bushwhacker/Upright Collaboration Blend. Interestingly, the way you described the Oakshire Elderberry Gose was nothing like the one I had: I think I was the first one at the festival to order it, and I don't know if it was because it was sitting apart from the keg in the line for so long or what, but it was flat, dull, and flavorless. I should have gone back and had the guy pour me a refill, because clearly the beer I had was not the same as the one you tried!

  2. Speaking of corn, did anyone notice that Full Sail had the cajones (pun painfully intended) to admit the usage of corn in their upcoming Brewer's Share Bello-Torres y Amigos Lager?