Fresh off our New Orleans cocktail "convention," we're ready for some beer festivities in our own back yard. One of Northwest imbibers’ most highly anticipated events is the annual Oregon Brewers Festival, held this year Thursday, July 26 to Sunday, July 29 in Portland. OBF is the largest beer festival in North America with 55,000 annual guests and over 70 types of craft beer from Oregon and around the country, including many out-of-state brews not normally distributed locally, as well as beers made by local breweries specifically for the festival.
The festival is the culmination of Oregon Craft Beer Month (technically July, although it’s pretty much always Craft Beer Month around these parts), with special events at Oregon breweries throughout July. As part of the festival’s kick-off, we attended a beer tasting at Rock Bottom Brewery in Portland. The Oregon Brewers Guild director Brian Butenschoen talked about Oregon's phenomenally huge craft-brewing industry, then brewers Van Havig of Rock Bottom and Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi in Eugene, Ore., guided us through the fine points of a handful of Oregon brews, from the "cheesy" to the "catty." Beer can be evaluated in the same depth and detail as wine and spirits, and done properly, a close tasting reveals a wealth of flavors, feelings and aromas. One of our favorites from the tasting was Full Sail’s Vesuvius, a Belgian Tripel style with a deep aroma of fruit and cheese and a captivating burnt-sugar sweetness.
Also yesterday was the Brewers Dinner, where OBG members had a chance to sample beers, chow down on a barbecue dinner hosted by Rogue Brewery and talk shop with peers and idols from the craft brewing community. Much hobnobbing and good-natured ribbing occurred. The hordes began to arrive today for the festival proper, and tasting continues through Sunday, with live entertainment, bites and demos from hop producers, home brewers and the like all weekend long. For more info, check out oregonbrewfest.com.
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