Portland Spring Beer & Wine Fest

The 18th Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest in Portland, OR, Friday session was most notable for brewers who were NOT in attendance. In fact it appears this event has shrunk considerably over recent years. What started out as a beer festival of note, has been supplanted by the summer and winter festivals. Missing notables were Deschutes, Bridgeport, Rogue, McMenamins – to name a few. However the 37 breweries and 70+ beers that participated this year were fine representatives of the craft beer industry.

One unique feature of this festival was the inclusion of wineries, distilleries, cheese makers, and folk craft people. But then Exhibit Hall A/A1 has a lot of space to fill up in the Oregon Convention Center. It is also unique in that it is probably the cheapest festival you can go to. The admission is $5. The first 1,000 people get in free. You can buy tokens for $1 each that can be used for tasting beer, wine, spirits, or cheese. Fancy glass tasting mugs or wine snifters sell for $5 and are pretty cool.

The cheese tastes seemed a bit on the slim side for the $1. I had been looking forward to pairing some cheeses with the beers I was sampling, but that quickly fell into the bucket of failed expectations.

My hands down favorite beer was the Velvet Merkin Oatmeal Stout from Firestone Walker. I will be heading out today to find a few bottles at the local bottle shops. The most interesting taste I had was the Chili Beer from Calapooia Brewing paired with the Orange Jalapeño chocolate from Exotic Chocolates LLC. My thanks go out to Laura Bryngelson from Calapooia Brewing for giving me the courage to try her beer and Ana Trevino who sells some wonderful chocolates.

Other beers of note were:

  • Bitter Bitch from Bitch Creek Brewery in Astoria – at 136 IBUs it would appease the most hardy hop lover (Shirley).
  • Taft Draft Toffee Porter from Rusty Truck Brewery in Lincoln City, OR
  • Nut Brown from Red Hook – flavorful brown ale
  • Oatmeal Porter from Widmer (Portland) – interesting twist on the porter standard – I am a big oatmeal beer fan so I liked the way this smoothed out the sometimes intense coffee/chocolate malt bitterness of more robust porters
  • Moose Drool in a can – Can you believe it?! Big Sky Brewing (MT) is part of the Can Do movement.

A listing of the beers that were there can be found at this link to the festival site.

A particular treat was found at Big Bottom Whiskey. Brand Rep Monique Shearer was pouring some really fine bourbon.  You can contact BB at their Portland location (link above) or find their spirits in 13 states, including Tennessee, which I thought was pretty daring of them. But after sampling it, I think they will compete very well down South.

Here are some pictures of the event. Are you in any of them?

 Photography and content by Bob Shoemaker (bobshoemaker@hoppytrailsbeernews.com)
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