Fruit Beer Festival 2013

fruit-beerLast weekend was my favorite beer festival.  The Portland Fruit Beer Festival!  I’ve been going since it started three years ago.  (You can read about the First Fruit Beer Festival.)  This year, bestie Beckie, former-roommate Jeffrey and I along with an assortment of friends spent the sunny Saturday trying a vast assortment of fruit beers.  Just in case you were wondering, a fruit (or vegetable) beer is a beer brewed with a fruit (or vegetable) addition or flavoring component.  And they are hands down my favorite type of beer!

Here is what we tried:

 What fruit beers do you like?

First Annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival

Fruit Beer Festival, Portland, OR

Beckie and I at the Fruit Beer Festival in Portland, OR

I don’t have a sister, but I’m lucky enough to have an amazing best friend who is like a sister to me. Not only that, but Beckie shares her sister, Carly, with me too. This weekend Beckie, Carly and I took on the First Annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival at Burnside Brewing Co. It’s not a secret that fruit beers are my favorite type of beer so having the chance to spend a sunny Portland Saturday with my best friend, who lives in Georgia, was a special treat!

The Portland Fruit Beer Festival is a celebration of the wonderful variety that fruits offer and the incredible and unique beers brewers can make from them. Featuring over 15 breweries from the Northwest and beyond with over 20 different beers, the majority of them brewed specifically for this festival. While the focus was on fruit beers, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of the breweries had wine-inspired beers (granted wine is made from grapes). It also made me realize how many breweries are nearby that I haven’t checked out yet, but hopefully will soon! Here is what we tried by brewery, beer, summary, and our own little notes.

Burnside Brewing Co.Sweet Heat – Beckie
Wheat ale with an additional 200 pounds of apricot puree, then dry hopped with imported Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers. Reminiscent of a Caribbean chutney, this beer has a subtle tartness from the fruit with a slight spiciness from the peppers which also adds a fruitiness to the aroma. 4.9% abv.
This was Beckie’s favorite beer from the Festival and my personal favorite brew from Burnside Brewing Co. It reminded both of us of my mom’s homemade chili infused vodka. A normal drink followed by a warm burn that lingers in your mouth.

Block 15 – Psidium – Beckie
Rustic farmhouse ale matured with guava fruit and blended with a sour golden ale. Brewed with Belgian Pilsner, French Pale & Wheat malts; Saaz & Citra hops; Frech farmhouse yeast. 6% abv.
This brewery is located in Corvallis, where Beckie spent her undergrad at Oregon State University. She was excited to try a new beer from this brewery. I’m excited to make a trip down to Corvallis and check out Block 15 for myself.

Breakside Brewing – Mango IPA – Jenna
A tweaked version of Breakside’s flagship beer changed to suit the flavors of fresh mango. Mango additions to the mash, kettle, hopback and conditioning tank.
I’m usually not a fan of IPAs however, this was one I could get use too! Breakside Brewing is another brewery on my list to check out here in Portland.

Dogfish HeadFestina Peche – Jenna
A refreshing neo-BerlinerWeisse fermented with honest-to-goodness peaches to (get this) 4.5% abv! Because extreme beers don’t have to be extremely boozy.
I‘m always amazed at what Dogfish Head comes up with, so I was excited to see this Dellawear brewery here in Portland.

Fort George Brewing – Badda Boom! Cherry Stout – Jenna
Coming in at 6.9% abv, rich and dark as a moonless night in the orchard, Badda BOOM! has 40 pounds of raspberries and cherries mingling famously with the Belgium yeast esters and black barley bitters.
This was another type of beer I’m not usually a fan of but could definitely fall in love with. The cherry stout felt like a heavy beer in my stomach but a light beer in my mouth. Definitely something I look forward to picking up this fall.

Laurelwood – Mango Mint Pale – Jenna
Pale Ale brewed with Southeast Asia Fruit and Spices.
One of my personal favorites from the Festival, this light beer just tasted of the perfect balance of mango and mint, a light and refreshing beer for any summer day.

New Belgium – Ooh La La – Beckie
Ale brewed with Raspberries 8.5% abv.
“Now this is a fruit beer,” Beckie said while holding up her glass. Literally purple from the raspberries. This beer was amazing. Reminded me a lot of the Harpoon Raspberry UFO.

Ninkasi BrewingPinot Barrel-Aged Oatis with Cherries – Carly
Oatis Oatmeal stout with cherries aged in Pinot Noir Casks. 7.2% abv.
Maybe Carly is just the wino of the group. This beer tasted like a cross between a beer and a wine, a surprising combination that was pulled off flawlessly.

Upright Brewing – Barrel-Aged Pure Wit with Orange – Carly
A single cask version of our seasonal Belgian-style wit with a pound of dried sweet orange peel added to the barrel. This tart and hazy wheat beer has a tremendous nose but remains light and snappy on the palate.
“This should have said with lemon, not orange,” Carly said after taking a sip. “Still delicious though, reminds me of a Blue Moon served with a lemon instead of an orange by accident.”

We then headed to the “Rare Rotating Taplist in the Brewhouse.” Where one of a kind rare beers some of which only one keg was ever made were too precious and small batch to be available during the entire fest so they were tapping them a few at a time in the first room of the brewery. As kegs run out they were replaced with a different beer.

Hopworks – Chupacabra Chili Stout – Jenna
Organic Survival “7-Grain” Stout aged for two weeks with Chipotle, Poblano, Anaheim Scotch Bonnet, Cherry Bomb and Habanero peppers. 5.3% abv.
Hands down the best beer from the Festival. This spicy beer takes similar to the Burnside Brewing Co’s Sweet Heat, but takes it up a couple of notches on the spice factor. And it’s from my favorite brewery! Love!

Lompoc – Cherry Fechter – Beckie
Our Fools Golden fermented in a Maryhill Vineyard Cabernet Franc barrel with 35 pounds of sour cherries. It is clean crisp with a bright pink color and a slight sourness in the finish.
This sour beer wasn’t a big hit with Beckie. Granted trying a sour beer not realizing it is a sour beer is always a risk.

Coalition – Wheat from the Tree – Carly
An American style wheat aged two months in a St. Josef’s chardonnay barrel, this beer has light notes of bartlett pears and wine grapes, with a sweet and tangy finish of fresh mandarin and tangelo. This beer sponteaneously fermented to ~5.2% abv. with the addition of 60 lbs. of fresh fruit.
The wino strikes again. Definitely a delicious play on Coalition’s Wheat the People.

All in all an amazing Saturday afternoon.

Have you tried any of these beers? Or been to any of these breweries? Did you attend the Portland Fruit Beer Festival? What did you think? Didn’t attend, what was the last beer festival you went too?

Upright Brewing – Portland, OR

Now that the Portland Trailblazers 2010-2011 season is now over 🙁

I can now share with you my pre- Trailblazers game tradition 🙂

I’m lucky enough to attend Blazer games on a regular basis.  While I am a big fan of the Widmer Brothers, I’m not a big fan of shelling out $8.75 per drink per person at the Blazer games.  This is where Upright Brewing comes into play.

Upright Brewing is located right across from the Rose Garden in the Left Bank Project.  The Left Bank, is a collaborative space, where small businesses that are mission-focused can come together to make Portland even better.  In the basement is Upright Brewing, a relatively new brewery to the Portland scene, but has already amazed my taste buds!  I think it’s because Upright Brewing specialized in farmhouse inspired beers from France and Belgium but is made with local ingredients with a bit of that Pacific Northwest “Keep Oregon Beered” twist.  At Upright they use a special saison yeast and an open fermentation process to produce beer that is a true hybrid style.

Back to the Blazer games.  Here’s what you do.  There is free parking near by (send me an email if you really want to know) or just take MAX (Portland’s light rail system).  Head to Upright Brewing, which opens two hours before each Blazers home game.  Meet up with your friends there, grab beers for $3 or a pitcher for $12 and hang out.  Make sure to get there early since the place gets packed the closer to the start of the game.

Since I can only drink two beers before a game, that means I spend $6 total, plus my standard $1/beer tip, totals me up to $8.  Still $0.75 CHEAPER than a beer in the Garden!  Plus I got TWO!  Pretty simple decision for me.  I’m sure you’ll agree.

Jenna’s Tips:

  • Chances are Alex (the owner and head brewer) or Ezra (chief beer pourer and artist) are working.  Be sure to say “hi” if you see them.  Alex wears a slick pair of glasses and Ezra is usually hanging out by the cash register.
  • The Number Four is my favorite.  But I also always make sure to try what ever seasonal they have on tap too.
  • Also, while they do have some snacks, make sure you plan on eating before heading to Upright (or grabbing food at the Garden).  Your stomach will thank you later.

Been to Upright Brewing before?  What did you think?  What’s your pre-sporting event beer tradition?