On Saturday Sarah and I attended the Portland Fruit Beer Festival at Burnside Brewing with our friend Chelsea. The event was small and relaxed. The crowd got a little heavy after the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade finally ended and the road blacks were cleared. We actually spent twenty minutes trying to drive five minutes from our apartment. The festival was dominated by local breweries and one off, exclusive beers. Some were experimental. Most were interesting, but some missed the mark.
I started out with a bourbon barrel aged RenewALE porter from Ninkasi that had been aged with cherries. It was an interesting beer, all the layers really stood out. The one problem was that all the layers stood out. It was bourbon, cherries, and then some porter. It wasn’t a good marriage of flavors; everything was just layered one on top of the other.
I tried my second Logsdon’s ale: Fruit Melange, a batch of the Seizoen Bretta aged with pears and cherries. The cherries really jumped out, but so did their saison yeast. It wasn’t a brettanomyces flavor I got off it. It was more of a Belgian yeast, all pepper in the finish.
I also tried Ching Ching from Bend Brewing Company — thanks festival guide, I forgot to write that down. Ching Ching is a a Berliner weiss made with pomegranate and hibiscus. Hibiscus was very popular this year. It was super dry and tart with a cranberry sourness. I thought it was more similar to a sour beer than a wheat.
I then went on to one of my favorite breweries, Upright, and had their Levinator. The guide tells us that the Levinator is a bock beer brewed with weisse yeast and matured in wine barrels with black currants. Sarah and I both had tasters of this one. Sarah mentioned a coffee like flavor. I thought there was a hint of oak. There was a hint of sour and a really mellow flavor. It felt big, and boasted 7.2% ABV, but the flavors were very light.
The Huckleberry Hound was the most recognizable beer in the whole line up. Alameda Brewing made an IPA and then added huckleberries. I could smell this beer all day, big piney aroma. The taste was also fantastic, big bitter hops. But then the blueberries hit. It doesn’t make sense at all to have piney hops mixed with blueberries. I can get behind huckleberry and grapefruit. I can get behind huckleberries and whatever, but pine? No.
Deschutes made a very dark stout with raspberries called Extinction. It was like some sort of coffee and chocolate cake covered in raspberry reduction. The only problem was that I smelled wet dog the whole time I was sipping it. Now that probably wasn’t the brewers fault, there were dogs around. But I couldn’t fully appreciate the nose on this one.
There were a few more stand outs that had us waiting in line for seconds, but I’ll get to those later.