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First Tastes of the Fest

After the parade on Thursday was the annual media tasting led by Noel Blake. In years past it was conducted before the festival began, but because of the parade this was no longer possible. But that also meant we were crowded around all of the other early festival-goers, which happily turned out not to be as bad as I thought it might be. Noel Blake has been our host of this event as long as I can remember, and he does a great job picking out several representative beers for everyone to sample and also explains what led to his choosing those particular beers.

Noel Blake using a bullhorn so he could be heard telling us about the beer in our glass.

Some of the beers we sampled were the following:

Bourbon Barrel Abbey Dubbel. The original goal of OBF was to showcase beers from around the country to educate and expose local consumers to craft beer. So while most of the beer at the festival is either from Oregon or nearby states like Washington and California, there are a few from farther afield. Probably the farthest perennial exhibitor is New Jersey’s Flying Fish Brewery, which has been sending beer to the festival for countless years. This year it was their abbey dubbel aged in a bourbon barrel. Malty and nutty, with some fruity esters and only a hint of the bourbon’s alchemy it was decent lighter dubbel.

Not quite open yet, Hopworks Urban Brewery is the brainchild of former Laurelwood brewer Christian Ettinger. They were pouring their Organic IPA, which was made with Amarillo, Centennial and Ahtanum hops. It’s a big hop monster, thick with flowery and citrusy hop aromas and flavors that stick to the roof of your mouth. I also had a chance to visit the brewery, which is still under construction. Look for a later post with photos from the new place.

Laurelwood Public House was pouring their PNW Pils, a pilsner with not only traditional Saaz hops but also Brewer’s Gold. It’s so well-hopped that it may as well be a big northwest hop because it’s only reminiscent of a pilsner. Really, it was more of a pilsner on steroids.


The TG Triple from Terminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise, Oregon was one of my highlights for the festival. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, because there’s no jumping off place to begin since it’s so far from what I think of when handed something called a “triple.” Strong, but not too strong (at 8.5% abv), rich, but not too rich, light, but not too light. It certainly tastes mild for a triple, but that’s not to say it isn’t full of flavor all its own. But really, who cares what it is, what’s important is that it’s a great beer.


At the media tasting: Rick Sellers, from Pacific Brew News, Merideth and Chris Nelson, The Beer Geek, and Meagan Flynn (at right) with her assistant, publisher of a new magazine — Beer NW — that will debut in October covering the beer scene in the Pacific Northwest.

Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the Celebrator, Fred Eckhardt, legendary Portland beer scribe, Meagan Flynn and our host, Noel Blake.


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