Portland Brewers Festival 1997
(reprinted from the Draught Board newsletter August 1997)
This is a unformatted little journal of my recent trip to Portland for the 10th annual brewers fest. This is not intended to be comprehensive only what I remember as important or significant at the time. Opinion expressed are my own and take them that way. If you dont agree that fine with me. Im going to write this thing in generally the order that we did them. Some places I missed and some places I went twice or more.
Thursday July 24th: 2:00 pm
Widmer- Weve always met here because its close to the hotels and has outdoor seating. We were told that the brewery, a tiny 14 barrel, wasnt being used anymore but theyve moved into there large brewhouse across town. It looked sort of lonely all by itself behind the Plexiglas. I wonder if they would mind if I used it for a day? Wife would probably kick me out of the house if I came back from Portland with 28 kegs of beer. Oh well. Good beers were there. A tasty doppelbock was my favorite. There were others but I have had them before like there Hefeweizen.
Cajun Stomp - Oregon Brewers Guild Dinner. Held at the same place as the festival on the Waterfront park. Might bring a jacket next time but theres enough liquid heat to go around.
From the brochure this is how they explain it:
"The Oregon Brewers Dinner is an opportunity for brewers and beer aficionados to get together to sample and talk beer in a fun and casual atmosphere. Brewers from across the nation have been invited to partake in the event."
Review: Lots of fun. True beer enthusiast and brewers like Roger Lind etc. Food was all right but you couldnt beat the price. 10 beers and dinner for $15 dollars. Cheap! Anyways, good mini selection of the beers at the brewers fest the following day.
Tugboat-Tiny little brewpub. Its in a alleyway and the first time we tried to find it we walked right by it. It took sitting and staring at he map to figure out that it really is somewhere right next to our hotel. Three people running the place, Brewer, his wife and her father. Dad was tending bar when we got there. They had a guitar player doing his act to full crowd when we arrived. Full crowd means about 15 people. This place is small. You got to love the brewer though. The equipment is definitely homebrew style. Youll have to see to understand. One of the best features of the place is their bookcase on the back wall. Its got some of the most eclectic collection Ive every seen. We took turns reading from passages in the books. Things like 1948 book on "Our New Married Life". Full of pictures and suggestions for the young couple with the 50s attitude mixed in like reminding the wife to look her best when her husband comes home after work. Real gems if you like that sort of thing. Only tried one beer and that was an Alt I couldnt drink. Motor stayed until after closing and thought the other beers were pretty good. Worth another look.
Friday July 25, 11:00am
Steinbarts- On the suggestions from a homebrewer I met at the brewers dinner, I ventured across town in a taxi to check out this homebrew place. At first I was disappointed but soon discovered lots of items around the store. They had a lot of stuff Ive only read about but never seen like the plastic cylindroconical fermenter and some of the more unusual grain mills. They had a counter and workshop at the end similar to the ones you see at bike shops but this one was specializing in kegs. People brought there kegs in to get them serviced. Nice. The guy behind the counter turned me on to some new cleaner that is a 1 step no rinse thing that can be used on plastic and stainless. I tried it out on a dirty carboy when a got back it was pretty good. No scrubbing but I had to use it twice for a real dirty one. Its sort of dissolves the dirt and the packaging says it contains no chlorine or organic compounds. Steinbart does mail order also. Give me a yell if you want the address.
The 10th anniversary Portland Oregon Brewers Fest.
Held at the Waterfront Park, it consists of two huge tents with tables inside. Between the two tents are food vendors and more tables. Along the front of the tents is a bunch of refrigerated semi-trailers with the beer in them with volunteers pouring. This years logo was "Lets go to the HOPS!!!" with a couple of 1950s kids in a car driving by a billboard with welcome to the brewers fest. If you wanna see more, check out their web page at http://www.jhw.com/~jhw/brewfest/index.html.
The event didnt seem as crowded as the previous years. Whether this was because of a small crowd or better organization I couldnt tell. They had a problem getting the mugs out to the public and we had to use plastic cups until the mugs arrived but they made an easy transition to the mugs later that day.
72 brewerys where represented. I give a list of beers by style at the end of the article for reference.
What did I think of the beers. I would have top say that I was disappointed. Ive been here 5 times before and I dont think things are getting better as far as taste goes. Without getting into to many specific, this is how I would generalize my beers at the festival. I had about 25 beers over three days in both tents. This is what I found when I did the numbers:
40% undrinkable : Im not going to name names but you KNOW who you are!
Comments I heard: Its supposed to taste that way! Its a German Weizen and thats the diacetyl your tasting. Sulfur is normal to the style. Yes, even that much.
50% normal microbrewery fare or had before: Belks ESB, Anchor Foghorn, Old Rasputin
10% exceptional- Phantom IPA
Of the food I thought was good:
Bier Sausage $4.25
Kells Irish Restaurant
If you never been there before its a must see once at least. That said, I dont go to Portland for the festival alone but also to try out the various breweries around Portland. There are a lot of brewerys within walking distance of the hotel. All of the one mentioned here were with 3 miles of our hotel and most of them within 6 blocks.
Henry Weinhards- Huge brewery worth taking a tour of. Ive been on the tour to many times to count and there wasnt time to check it out again. Got some great shots of the beers they contact brew though. Oregon Brewing and good old deceitful (SOS) Sam Adams. Henry actually has a decent beer so dont pass it up out of snobbery. Its only brewed and shipped locally under the label Blitz/Weinharts and its quite tasty.
Bridgeport- Pizza slices, Sausage and Chorezo and Peppers yum. Beers: . Great atmosphere unless its really crowded. Outdoor seating on the old docks are great. Some of the scenery includes hops hanging on a bridge over to an adjacent building. Not much more outside though but very serene in an industrial way. When your going to this place dont get discouraged. It will appear that the city roads disappear and your walking in the middle of an abandon area of town. Just keep walking and youll find it. They put in new fermenters and built the place up to higher capacity. 170 BBL fermenters. Cool. I wonder if theyll let me bring them as carry on at Southwest?
Portland Brewing- Nice food. Beers are all right but theyve got great collectable glasses. Over the years Ive picked them all up. There true imperial pints and stuff. There new larger facility didnt make it into or schedule this year. Its got copper brewing vessels like the ones that Sierra Nevada had 3 years ago. The old Portland brewing has a nice alcove above the brewery that had a blues band during the dinner crowd . You see a lot of this up there.
NorWester- Neat little place. Big brewery with a pub stuck on it. Best things about It were the souvenir swiss army knife with bottle opener. A must have. They also had a 15 gallon stainless cylindroconnical fermenter on display for me to scrutinize. The bar keep said the brewer uses it occasionally to try out new recipes. Look like a display item. Wonder if theyll take $500 for it?
McMinimums Mission Street Theater- Lots of beer on tap. Around 10-15 I think. Theyve got pizza, candy and popcorn. They were playing Austin Powers. I good selection but I had already seen it twice and once at the Pub Theater at the Parkway in Oakland. Liked the Parkway better but its interesting to see a movie in what appears to be a converted church. Still have the pulpit and some of the pews in place. We went there because of tradition. First went there and got into the movie/beer thing 4 years or so ago and thought it would be fun to check it out once more. Im very happy the Parkway opened up in our part of the world finally.
I want to thank Motor for his help in jogging my tired neurons. Place and people names are always a problem for me especially after too many doppelbocks.
If anybody is a glutton for punishment, Ive created a web page for that has a slide show of this years and last years event. The purpose of the slides is primarily to pass pictures to those people who were there but if you wanna see them anyways, go ahead. Its at http:/www.dnai.com/~thor/index.html. You cant miss the link. Its under new stuff (At least for a month or so). If you need to get more info or whatever email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to flame me, I hope your insured against lightening strikes!
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Copyright 1997. No information contained in this document may be reproduced without express written consent of the author.
Last revised: September 14, 1997.