Portland Weekend Recap – Part Two (With Lessons Learned)

October 13th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Beer & Food, Beer Reviews, Beer Travels, Oregon Breweries

Hopworks Beer Bike at the Fresh Hop Tastival

Hopworks Beer Bike at the Fresh Hop Tastival

If you missed Part One of the weekend review, or my review of all the various fresh hop beers we tried, feel free to check them out.

Saturday: Fresh Hop Tastival at Oaks Park and Brewpublic Killer Beer Fest at Bailey’s Tap Room

Considering we hit ten different Portland drinking/food establishments on Friday, you might expect me to be a bit slow on Saturday. But, I was actually just fine. We pretty much stuck to single beers at most places we hit, or a couple of small schooners. It was also spread out over a thirteen hour period with lots of water in between. The majority of the beers we had were also low ABV.

Bijou Café – We had a perfect start to the day with a filling breakfast at this laid back café. An Italian sausage hash with eggs over the top made me a happy man and laid a perfect base for soaking up beers over the next few hours. I highly suggest this place for a nice breakfast.

Fresh Hop Tastival at Oaks Park – We had originally planned to bus it out to Oaks Park, but Phil offered to drive and we couldn’t pass it up. The location is what seems to be an old amusement park with a small selection of rides and lots of open areas. It was perfect for them to put up a huge tent for us to drink beer underneath. We arrived just as they were letting people in, and through the time we left around 3pm it was busy, but not overly packed. It really was a nice setup with plenty of room to roam about inside the tent, as well as outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather. The fresh hop beers were great for the most part (see my previous post), and this goes down as one of the best beer festivals I’ve ever attended. Afterwards, we tentatively had planned to stop by a place called the Muddy Rudder, which was located near the festival, on the advice of a bartender from Deschutes. But, we unfortunately ran out of time and were on a pretty tight schedule…so, next time.

Brewpublic Killer Beer Fest at Bailey’s Taproom – As I said earlier in the post, Bailey’s rocks. Since I usually stay downtown when I come to Portland, it is super easy to stop in and grab a glass of something from their always stellar tap list. The owner, who also goes by the kick-ass spelling of “Geoff”, does a great job of hand-picking his selection with the best of the best. On Saturday, Brewpublic had arranged to hold Part Two of their first anniversary celebration at Bailey’s. The Killer Beer Fest had a lineup of special one-offs, wet hop beers, barrel-aged beers, and seasonals all from Oregon breweries. We got there just before they were supposed to open and found that they decided to kick things off early. Luckily, we managed to snag the last three seats at the bar. It got packed immediately, so we were happy campers to be at the bar. We split several 5oz samples and there were some great, interesting beers. But, to be honest I think we were so conditioned to lighter fresh hop beers from the rest of the weekend that this was a bit of a kick in the pants. The Cascade 5 Barrel Thread was enjoyable, but super-sweet and fruity. The Standing Stone Wet Hop Amber was a nice way to finish off a weekend of fresh hop beers. The MacStallion Scotch Ale from Big Horse was a fantastic, slightly smoky take on the style. My favorite was probably the Oakshire Collaborative Evil, which was a big 10%+ ABV Belgian Strong Ale that packed in lots of flavor, while managing to drink much lighter than the ABV. Cheers to Angelo and Geoff, as well as the rest of the support staff whose names I don’t know, for putting on a great event. We had to bail just after 5pm in order to get some food and make our train back home.

Overall, this was one of my best beer drinking weekends ever. The quality of the beer was outstanding, and I’ve never hit as many places in one day as we managed to on Friday. Amazingly, I may be back in about a month, and I’ll look forward to more exploration.

Lessons I learned in Portland this weekend:

  • I enjoy a good, earthy fresh hop beer more than a typical citrusy IPA.
  • Oregon breweries seem to make better use of their proximity to fresh hops compared to Washington breweries. Maybe it is because there is no list calling out all of the WA fresh hop beers (like the Oregon Brewers Guild has)…but it seems like there are lots, lots more in Oregon.
  • The Schwarzbier I had from Heater Allen matched anything I’ve had from Chuckanut (except, maybe their Rauchbier). Don’t take this as me saying, “They are better than Chuckanut”. Chuckanut rocks and makes great beers. I’m just saying that OR and WA both seem to have kick-ass lager breweries that are fairly new on the scene. Good to be in the NW!
  • I remember having the Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout at GABF a couple of years back and LOVING it; I went back for multiple samples. That beer just won a Silver medal at this year’s GABF in the coffee beer category. Needless to say, when I saw a 22oz bottle of it at Belmont Station, I picked one up to bring home. This trip was the first time that I’ve had any of their beers on tap since then, and I really enjoyed all of them. Three fresh hop beers, plus the Collaborative Evil…all well-made and jumped out at me. This brewery, located in Eugene, OR, is on my short-list of places to visit.
  • I need to make a Portland trip to just explore some laid-back, non-beer geeky, neighborhood bars. There seem to be so many of these around that I just haven’t had the time to go in. It’s in bars like these that great beer cities are made.
  • Chili and sourness don’t go together.
  • McMenamins is a sometimes overlooked part of the beer culture in the NW. They have to be one of the most unique parts of the entire American beer industry. I can’t wait to see what they do with their new Tacoma property…
  • With so many bars to drink good beer, there seems to be never-ending room for new breweries in the Portland market.
A volunteer pours Double Mountain Killer Green at the Portland Fresh Hop Tastival

A volunteer pours Double Mountain Killer Green at the Portland Fresh Hop Tastival


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Patrick

    > Oregon breweries seem to make better use of their proximity to fresh hops compared to Washington breweries. Maybe it is because there is no central fest/list calling out all of the WA fresh hop beers…

    Well there’s the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival. That has primarily fresh-hopped, WA beers. It’s maybe not “central”, but it is a WA festival. A few of the breweries there were from OR or CA, but I’d say they had about 6-8 WA fresh hopped beers. I agree if you’re comparing numbers of fresh hopped beers then OR probably has more.
    It is telling that 5 of the ~13 breweries at the Yakima festival were from Oregon.

  • Kaiser

    Patrick – yeah, I had a great time at the Yakima Fresh Hop fest last year, but I was disappointed to find out that several of the WA breweries that were at the fest didn’t even bring a fresh hop beer (which I just don’t get…at all). Since the Yakima site doesn’t have a full beer list, I can’t assume that all the WA breweries they have listed as attending actually brought a fresh hop this year.

    I would love to try the Snipes Harvest that won this year, if I can find it out this way.

    I’ll have a separate post going up in about an hour trying to accumulate a list of what WA Fresh Hop Ales are available…if you attended the fest and know what WA beers were there, I’d love if you can help out and comment when it goes up!

  • Elvis

    i’ve said it again, and i know i’ll get thrashed, but the beer available in Portland, coming from both the portland market and general oregon market, kills what we get in Seattle.

    Baileys and the Horse Brass destroy any public house here.

    They get stuff from oakshire, heater allen, HUB, pelican, fort george, double mountain…i could go on, but should i? it’s just painful.

    really, what your post should say is, “Seattle…in case you’re in denial, Portland is kicking your ass”.

    Portland=light rail to kickass destinations. Seattle=light rail to Tukwila.

  • Angelo

    Geoff: It was great to see you and the SeaTown posse. Hope to hang with you amidst less mayhem sometime. Keep up the great work!

  • Kaiser

    Elvis – I love Portland, but I’ll respectfully disagree that they are “kicking Seattle’s ass” and that those two great Portland beers bars “destroy” any bar here.

    There is plenty of great WA beer that we keep to ourselves (for the most part) as well. Boundary Bay, Chuckanut, Big Time, Anacortes, Black Raven, Diamond Knot, and Silver City just to start.

    I really don’t want this to turn into a Portland vs. Seattle thread. Both cities kick ass.

  • Kaiser

    You too, Angelo! You threw some great parties this weekend….will look forward to hanging out some other time.

  • Elvis

    you own this baby, so i’ll not retort in full, but i think your rabidity with respect to portland might tell another story. maybe review your posts and you’ll feel different.

  • Kaiser

    Elvis – I definitely believe that Portland is the best beer city in the country (you’re right, I’ve made no attempt to hide that fact!). It’s just that I don’t think Seattle is as far behind them as your comments imply.

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