It’s Wenesday afternoon, and it has taken me this long to digest our epic weekend in Portland. Beyond the beerfest, we hung out with friends who I haven’t seen in a while and ate amazing sushi at Masu. It was a great weekend. In addition to the friends and food, I was able to take in two full sessions at the 3 day-long Portland Internaltional Beerfest. I love the PIB and SIB. They are the beerfests that really allow access to a wide variety of beers from all over the world. From Belgians to Germans to English to Americans (and all points in between) … they were all well represented.
The people running the PIB and SIB are doing a hell of a job. These events are among the best that I’ve had the experience to go to in the NW region. There are other epic Northwest beerfests (there will be post soon on the upcoming Oregon Brewers Festival), but they tend to focus on the styles brewed (and beer points of view held) here … in our own backyard. I want a full palette for my palate (sorry … couldn’t resist that cheese), and the PIB and SIB give me that. Thanks guys.
My only gripe, as it is with all beer fests that use volunteers as pourers, is that the volunteers don’t know enough about the beers they’re pouring. That really sucks for the people who enjoy a beer and want to know about the ingredients or brewing techniques. Not to mention how it sucks for the brewery as a truly memorable beer can be swept into the soon-to-be-forgotten confines of the drinker’s alcohol-soaked short-term memory. If the drinker doesn’t have additional information about the beer to help him/her remember something about it (e.g. what the hell is the shochu that was used to make the Hitachino XH?), it is often forgotten before the first Tylenol is taken the next morning.
But that really is my only complaint. So without any further bitching, in order of general enjoyment, here’s the way I got my drink on:
Mikkeler Beer Geek Breakfast Stout: WOW! Simply amazing. Rich, velvety, roasty stout goodness. The aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel are all what you would expect a great imperial stout to be. I feel like I could reduce this beer down and make excellent brownies with it. All I can say is, grain, yeast, hops, roast all perfectly deep and balanced. If you ever have a chance to get you hands on this, buy as much as you can. Epic.
Hitachino XH: This beer is cloudy, murkey orange-brown. Beer stuff floating around preventing light from going through … I love it. It smells malty and doesn’t have much of a head at all. Aged in shochu (a distilled Japan beverage) barrels, the flavor really comes through in a very balanced way. The slightly spicy hop flavor is there. There is a bit of a pleasant tart aftertaste that is almost begianny, but not citrusy like a witbier. This tartness gives way to the shochu, sake-like flavor that really works here. Truly an amazing beer.
Sick Duck: A great cloudy black/brown Stout that has a really chocolatey hit to it. This isn’t like the Chocolate Stout from Rogue, but more of a rich/deep/roasty chocolate with a weighty mouthfeel to it. Big malt, with an amazing big roasted flavor. The time this beer spent in Pyrat barrels becomes quickly apparent. Really good.
De Proef KO: Much clearer than the big cloudy’s that I’ve had. The aroma is like sugar … almost cotton candy. There’s a huge yeast component to the aroma. Prickly carbonation. This is a well-balanced beer. Really amazing. Pale straw yellow in color that is almost like a trippel. It is nice to really taste the hop bitterness in a Belgian like this. It is subtle but present. A very favorable beer. I need to get my hands on more from this brewery.
Allagash Curieux – A bit of a deep straw color with a nice head half-way through the 4 oz taster. It smells so good! Honeysuckle and mellon stand out in the aroma. It is so tasty. The mouthfeel is good and strong, but not too heavy or thick. There’s a hint of hops, which help balance the mellon fruity side of the flavor. All the Allagash tends to have that hint of harshness in the finish that I can’t ever put well into words, and this one has it as well. But everything else is so good in this one that I can’t knock it off the favorites list. It really is a fantastic beer.
So those were my winners. Other beers that were worth drinking many of included Great Divide’s Oak-Aged Yeti and Hercules Imperial IPA, Tomme Arthur’s Reserve Signature Ale, Uerige Doppel-Sticke, the Baron Pils, and of course the Rodenbach Grand Cru. If you didn’t make it this year, put it on your calendars for next year. You owe it to yourself.
So many beers, so little time, such a fragile liver. Cheers!