It’s that time of year again—the 28th annual Oregon Brewers Festival returns to Portland’s Waterfront Park for five days of brews, brews and more brews (and some food and music too)! While beers come in from around the world, particular interest and focus is given the beers coming from Oregon.
The Oregon Brewers Festival is noted throughout world as being one of the oldest craft beer fests across the nation. In its early days, the OBF was one of the first places to showcase the diversity of Oregon craft beers to the public and was instrumental in jump-starting the craft beer scene during the 1980s.
This years’ festival will feature 109 beers from 89 breweries, representing 15 states and three separate continents! With all those options peruse, and only five days to do it, we figured you could use a hand. Initial entrance is free, with a tasting mug costing just $7, and additional beer tokens clocking in at a dollar each. While a full list of beers can be found here, below you’ll find our top picks of beers to brew over while at the fest.
Buoy Beer Co.—India Pale Ale || Besides being renowned the world over for the cult classic of “The Goonies,” Astoria, Oregon has developed quite a reputation for its coastal beer scene. Carving out a spot amongst industry heavyweights like Fort George Brewing, Buoy Beer Co. has made its presence known in its relatively short lifespan for producing inventive and quality takes on industry standards. First established in 2013 in a 90+ year old cannery, Buoy Beer Co. currently boasts nine beers on tap, with an additional three in the works (not to mention great food and a killer river side view). The India Pale Ale is dry-hopped with Meridian and Crystal hops to bring on a citrusy aroma coupled with a sweet malty flavor. || buoybeer.com
Breakside Brewing—Rainbows & Unicorns || Ben Edmunds, head brewer at Breakside, has been called everything from a visionary to a “Mad Scientist.” Having succeeded in finding that ever elusive balance between quality and production, Breakside Brewing currently boasts a production of over a hundred seasonal beers a year, and is well-known for pushing the boundaries in any and every direction possible. The Rainbows & Unicorns is a session IPA brewed with rice flakes to create a super light-bodied beer with notes of tropical fruits and “breakfast cereal.” || breakside.com
Oregon Brew Crew/Widmer Bros. Brewing—Vanilla Valley Pale Ale || The Oregon Brew Crew is not a brewery, per se, but rather a club comprised of homebrewers throughout the state. For the past few years, the club has held a competition, the winner of which has the opportunity to collaborate with Widmer Brothers’ Brewing on a special collaboration beer. Last year’s winner, Jodi Campbell (the first solo female winner), won with the recipe for the Vanilla Valley Pale Ale. Utilizing vanilla beans in conjunction with a sweet selection of malts, flavors of honey, vanilla and malt persist on palate. || oregonbrewcrew.org
Fremont Brewing—Summer Ale || Though the Summer Ale by Fremont Brewing is readily available throughout Washington, it gets on the list for things to look for at the festival due to the fact that Fremont doesn’t distribute to Oregon. So, get it while you can! The Summer Ale emits Tangerine and floral spice on the nose, with notes of juicy citrus on the palate, making it the perfect brew for the sweltering heat we’re all looking forward too. || fremontbrewing.com
Laht Neppur Brewing Co.—Flaming Peach || Laht Neppur began as a home brewing operation out of Waitsburg, Washington (about 20 miles northeast of Walla Walla). First arriving in the Walla Walla Valley to study winemaking, head brewer Court Reppenthal quickly realized that the valley was in desperate need of quality beer. The Flaming Peach is listed as an “experimental beer”, meaning we’re all going to be guinea pigs, as it’s making its debut at OBF. The Flaming Peach utilizes peach concentrate, spices and Cayenne peppers to offer a lighter bodied beer designed to let the peach flavors shine through. Proceed with cautious optimism. || lahtneppur.com
Upright Brewing Co.—Golden Goat || Focusing in on farmhouse-style beers first pioneered in Belgium and France, Upright adds a healthy dose of Northwest flavor to every one of its beers. The Golden Goat is a Bière de Garde. A traditionally French method of brewing beer with Lager yeast at an elevated temperature, the Bière de Garde style tends to rise and fall in popularity, and luckily is on the rise again. The Golden Goat features, in addition to the standard recipe, sun-dried black lime and a secret herb to smooth yet multi-layered brew. || uprightbrewing.com