Beer festivals are great. Summer rolls around and it seems like there’s always one on the horizon. My only gripe is that it’s always the same roll call. Same breweries. Same beers. Don’t get me wrong … I realize that all beer fests aren’t aimed at the beer geek in me. As a matter of fact, I would say that most aren’t. But when they are … ah, now that’s a beer festival for which I’ll send out the emails … make blog postings … rally the troops … evangelize.
So it goes with the sibling Portland International Beerfest and Seattle International Beerfest (SIB and PIB). For me, the settings, selections, and vibe cannot be matched by any other NW beer festival on the annual calendar. I’ve been attending this festival for the past 4 years, and it just keeps getting better. The people that put this thing on get access to beers that you will not find at any other beer festival in the Northwest. Since I’m in central Oregon, I’ll probably be meeting up with some friends at the PIB which is July 13 – 15. The location in the the North Park Blocks in the Pearl district. Here’s the description to give you a flavor:
Mark your Portland Oregon Beer Festival Summer calendar! PIB IS AN OVER-THE-TOP BEER FESTIVAL celebrating the world’s most legendary brewing styles and the nations that made them famous. Come taste over 100 world-class beers from more than 15 countries.
Of those legendary brewing styles, here are my picks for what’s pouring (most content shamelessly pinched from their site for the readers’ and author’s convenience). Take the time to read the descriptions. There are some amazing gems in here.
* – indicates beer is on draft
- Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien 2005 – Brewed just twice and very rare, this beer treads the boundary between port, wine and beer. This version (the 2nd) is VERY different…almost 5% stronger than the 2003 batch. It is a unique ale aged in used wine and Grappa casks, merging all the complex aromas of a vintage red wine, along with wood and the taste it picked up from its former contents. This beer is named in fond memory of Bon-Chien, the late brewery cat who went to kitty heaven in June 2005.
- Allagash Curieux * – If you don’t try this beer, quite simply, SHAME ON YOU. Nevermind that this Bourbon-barrel-aged beer has never been on tap out west before, or that it’s nearly impossible to find even in the bottle. No, that shame would be that you miss out on one of the greatest artisanal big beers ever brewed in the United States. Everything in this beer is evident–the style, yeast, wood, and bourbon…but none of these overwhelms the others. Incredible balance in a big, sexy, exotic style. Top 5 of all time!
- Ivan the Terrible Bourbon-Barrel * – This beer was a lot of work to get, and we are very excited and proud to have it at both events. It is a special version of their Ivan the Terrible (robust Imperial Stout), never before poured in Oregon or Washington. These kegs were aged on “wet” Kentucky Bourbon barrels prior to kegging. Take this bad boy to the cigar bar!
- Aecht Schlenkerla Helles * – A non-rauch bier from an all-rauch brewery in Bamberg Germany. First time on tap in Seattle & Portland. (One of Hermann’s favorites)
- Baron Pils * – This brewery is just south of Seattle, and they focus on German-style beers. NOT ALES! Support good Lagers in the Pacific Northwest!
- De Proef * – All beers. This is a brewery in Western Flanders, and its brewmaster has created many beers for others. This is his baby, and he’s a machine.
- De Regenboog’t Smisje Calva Reserva – Good Lord! OK, get out your note pads & try to keep up. First, this barley-wheat malt blend was kicked up with dark candy sugar, white candy sugar, coriander, & Grain de Paradise. Then comes the good part. After 6 weeks of primary maturation, it was given another 6 months of solitary confinement in a Dupont Calvados cask for bad behavior. Punishment should be this good. It was released to its bottle on probation with white candy sugar & champagne yeast for another fermentation.
- Dilkelacker Dunkel * – This is the lighter side of dark. Very rare to find this lager brewing style in a keg. A total gem, and a very under appreciated style. If you like things like nut-brown ales from England, this is in many ways the lager cousin from germany. Alt-dunkels in general are an exercise in subtlety.
- Flyer Tuck * – PIB & SIB are proud to announce their first “proprietary beers”, made exclusively for our events–available no where else. At PIB this year, it will be the first time Flyer’s will ever be poured in Oregon state publicly. Based on a beer brewmaster Tony Savoy made while at Snipes Brewery, Flyer Tuck consists of 100% Belgian Pils malt, 66 lbs of Belgian candi sugar, 100% Saaz hops, orange peel, and dried woodruff added the last 15 minutes of the boil.
- Hercules Double IPA * – Great Divide … love their stuff. Another hop powerhouse, but with tremendous malt character to balance this brute of a beer. Not sure what’s more amazing: how much the hops dry out the sweetness of the high alcohol, or how much the malt balances the powerful bitterness of those 75 IBUs. A great study in “big balance”.
- Hitachino XH aged in Shochu cask – Get in line to be among the first in the Unites States to try this incredible beer from Japan. Never before imported, this version of “Extra High”, aka XH, has been aged in Shochu casks for nearly a year. Shochu is a spirit distilled from witbier. The primary style of XH is Belgian Strong Dark. Extremely radical.
- J.W. Lee’s Harvest (Lagavulin barrel-aged) – Remarkably complex English Barely Wine, heavily influenced by “doing time” inside a very smokey single-malt scotch barrel. We should all serve such sentences of incarceration.
- J.W. Lee’s Harvest * – Are you ready for this? At long last, the ultimate “cellarable” English barleywine comes to us in kegs. This is a 2006 vintage (from a beer that’s been known to age well for over 10 years). If you like caramel, butterscotch, and pretty much all things good–oh, and rediculous balance in breweing, DO NOT pass up this beer, regardless of how drunk you are. At least pretend like you remember this for the rest of your life…you should.
- Jan De Lichte – Jan De LichteFrom the incredible Glazen Toren brewery of Belgium, we are proud to introduce this beer to Oregon & Washington for the first time ever. At 7%, Jan De Lichte is really more of an “Imperial Wit”, being about 20% stronger than most examples of the style. Check out the cutting edge of Belgian extreme brewing.
- Kerkom Bink Bloesem – This is one of the must-trys of the event. Amazingly, this is brewed with pears & honey, but is not a mead. It really is without brewing style classification, as it gets fermentables from fruit, grain, and honey combined. Somewhere between a blonde & Flemish brown, colorwise.
- Klosterbrauerei Ettal Curator * – At 9% abv, Klosterbrauerei Ettal Curator is one of the biggest versions of a classic Bavarian-made doppelbocks found anywhere in the world. Again, another first-time premiere on tap for Oregon & Washington states.
- Kulmbacher Mönchshof Schwarzbier * – Mönchshof Schwarzbier – “the Black Pils” – is a brewing wonder and a brew-lover’s dream. Supremely drinkable, dry and beautifully hopped, yet loaded with dark malt flavor.
- La Rulles Estavale * – A west coast US debut, all we know of Estavale is that it is a very hoppy Belgian-style summer-seasonal ale, brewed with Cascade, Amarillo, and Warrior hops. Yet again, the influence of American brewers is played out in a great beer from Belgium. (These are the hops typically used in my IPA’s)
- Mahr’s Ungespundet – A very old-style unfiltered lager. A boutique beer from a boutique brewery in Bavaria. This beer is hard to find…even in Germany. We are lucky to get it. Perhaps the smallest German brewery represented at our festivals.
- Meantime London Porter * – The Portland debut of this incredibly flavourful cask-conditioned big porter.
- Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Stout – From Denmark … and it has the word ‘Mikkel’ in it to boot! How can this not be on the list? Get this beer right away as soon as you enter. It will be one of the first to sell out at both events, guaranteed!
- Spaten Optimator * – I’ve had it before, but I love it! The Grand Master of strong, dark lagers. Think chocolate. The higher alcohol masks most of the hops used. This is both a world-class dessert and cigar beer. In a nutshell, a German can of malt whoop-ass.
- Reserve Signature Ale (w/ Tomme Arthur) * – Tomme Arthur is the brewmaster for Pizza Port’s Lost Abbey brewery in San Diego, and their stuff is awesome. Pretty much exclusively Belgians, so get your taste buds ready!
- Sick Duck (Vintage Rum Barrel Aged) * – PIB & SIB are proud to announce their first “proprietary beers”, made specifically for our events, and available no where else. At PIB, this is the first time Flyer’s Brewery beers will be poured in Oregon state. This special version of Sick Duck, their monster Impy Stout, will be aged on French Oak and Pyrat XO Reserve, a 15 year old Caribbean rum. The brew is a Double Mash totaling 1325 lbs of malt for 7 bbls, 7.5% of which is oats. Hopped in 4 additions w/ Centennial and East Kent Goldings.
- Spaten Premium Bock – Helles bock for hell. Rarely will you find a beer this seemingly mild & sweet that packs such a big engine under the hood…if you know what I mean.
- St. Feuillien Tripel * – Finally, our favorite least-known Belgian Tripel comes to us on draft!
- Uerige Doppel-Sticke – This is simply one of the top 5 must-try beers. For starters, you can’t even get this beer in Dusseldorf Germany where it is made. Next, this may be the most highly hopped beer EVER produced in that country. So what does it taste like? Well, somewhere between an English and American barley wine, with a dose of German lager qualities, lies this gem.
So I think that’s enough to work with! I can’t think of any other beer fest that pulls off so many different, hard-to-get beers with so much thought, organization, and style than the PIB and SIB. Each year keeps getting better, and this year looks like it will be an epic one. Make your reservations now. Prost!