In less than a week, I’ll be on a train to Portland for the Oregon Brewers Festival. It’ll be my third time down and I’m looking forward to it. Sure, lately I’m more likely to be drinking cans of Hamm’s in a shitty dive than sipping pints of craft beer in a swanky beer bar. But that doesn’t mean I can’t muster some beer geek enthusiasm for a festival pouring 81 beers from 81 different breweries. If that isn’t enough, there will also be a “Buzz Tent” with special beers that’ll have beer douches squealing like little girls and running across Waterfront Park to get a taste.
I’ll admit that I may walk briskly to get a few buzz beers (Ballast Point Sculpin), but I’ll mostly be sticking with the regular lineup. Of the 81, here are the ten I’m most excited to try:
Caldera Hibiscus Ginger Beer – These guys made a beer with rose petals that I loved, so it’s a good bet they’ll pull off some magic with hibiscus and ginger, too.
Rock Bottom Oud Heverlee – A Belgian-style beer with unusual ingredients like dried tulips. I wanna try this even though the description on the OBF site uses the word “umami,” which seems like the height of beer pretension.
Upright Reggae Junkie Gruit – I’ll try anything these guys do. Herbs and spices instead of hops in this one, including bitter orange peel, hyssop, lemongrass and Sichuan peppercorns.
Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA – I’m a sucker for single-hop beers. It’s a good way for IPA freaks to learn which hops they favor. This one features Citra hops.
Lucky Lab Summit IPA – Another single-hop beer.
Widmer Captain Shaddock IPA - We all know that hops in IPAs can taste grapefruity. This one has actual dried grapefruit peel added.
Flying Fish Exit 4 – A hoppy tripel from New Jersey that’s won a bunch of awards.
The Bruery 7 Grain Saison – Of all the beers I’ve tasted from this brewery, the saisons are the best.
Collaborator Sunstone Pilsner – Created by a Portland homebrewer, this German-style pilsner tweaked with the inspiration of farmhouse ales will be one to drink if the weather heats up.
Surly Bitter Brewer – I’ve had this from a can, but not on tap. At 4%, it should be the perfect go-to beer for sobriety management.