Perhaps you’ve heard the tale already. Rogue Ales brewmaster John Maier discovered that the wild yeast growing in his beard could be cultivated to a state suitable for fermenting beer. So that's exactly what he did. Thirsty yet? If you manage to get past the mental block that goes with drinking an ale with human beard yeast in it, you’ll find a very fruity beer that smells and tastes of ripe bananas and pineapple. Gimmicky? You betcha. Successful? Absolutely. Rumor has it Maier’s next experiment involves yeast cultivated from his nose hairs. (I kid, I kid.)
Dilution of Grandeur
Old Market Pub & Brewery's Dilution of Grandeur served as a great palate cleanser between the hoppier beers on tap. This Belgian-style lambic began with a sour mash, which the brewers allowed to ferment for weeks to drop the pH. Some of the wort ended up in Pinot Noir barrels with berries and currants, while the rest picked up the flavors of several hundred more pounds of berries separately. Those two batches were blended together with a Brettanomyces-fermented dubbel aged in steel for three years. The result of these time-consuming efforts? An incredibly refreshing lambic with a tart berry profile.
Brewed specifically to celebrate the Oregon Brewers Festival, the OBF 26 from Eugene, Oregon’s Oakshire Brewing comes in at an easy-drinking 26 IBUs and features no fewer than 26 different ingredients. Oakshire went with the "everything but the kitchen sink" method for this beer, using blackberry honey, lemon verbena, and rose hips, just to name a few. Surprisingly, despite the cornucopia of adjuncts, the Centennial hops took center stage in terms of flavor.
The Thirsty Masses
The Oregon Brewers Festival stretched for six blocks along Portland’s downtown Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and every inch of that space was occupied by tens of thousands of beer fans. By Saturday the park was bursting at the seams. But everyone was in (mostly) good spirits.
Pump Up the Jam
Boulder Beer Co.'s Pump Up the Jam perfectly captured the essence of fat, juicy, summer-ripe blueberries. This unfiltered, opaque wheat beer's strong fruity scent led to a sweet burst of blueberry flavor, with nice tartness in the background. On a typically hot day during the Oregon Brewers Festival, Pump Up the Jam became doubly refreshing. This one was made just for the festival, so if you want to get your hands on some, you’ll have to head to Colorado to see if the brewers have any left over!
Chronicle 11: Subtropical IPA
I heard a lot of different reactions to the curiously named Chroncile 11: Subtropical IPA from Florida’s oldest microbrewery, Dunedin. Some found it dank or too bitter. I thought the combination of grapefruit peel, toasted coconut, and pink peppercorn worked well the Nelson Sauvin, Calypso, and Summit hops, and the farmhouse ale yeast. Yes, it was bitter. But the layers of grapefruit that arose once the bitterness subsided were quite lovely.
Peaches and Cream Ale
For those looking for something fruity and sessionable (at 4.8% ABV), the Peaches and Cream Ale from Fearless Brewing Company was just the ticket. Sweet, juicy peaches register first, shoving aside subtlety in favor of peach Peach PEACH. A few sips in and you pick up the ghost of the Sterling finishing hops, but peaches rule the day here. This was the fruitiest beer at the festival by a mile.
Grandma’s Pecan Brown
Brown ales don’t seem to get as much love as they used to these days, but it’s great to see breweries finding ways of reviving the style. While adding nuts to a brown ale is nothing new, The Dudes' Brewing from Torrance, California, have come up with the nuttiest-tasting English-style brown ale I've ever tried. Using toasted Georgia pecans in the mash, the brewers manage to craft a beer that perfectly balances the sweet malts with the roasted character of the pecans.
Oddland Spiced Pear Ale
One whiff of Elysian Brewing Co.'s Oddland Spiced Pear Ale and I thought I was smelling someone’s spice drawer, not a glass of beer. There may be pears in there, but the spicy and mildly sweet characteristics of this beer come courtesy of two very distinctive spices: cardamom and cumin. The pear flavor arrives once the savory aspects of the spices fade, making for a pleasant fruity finish.