Walking into the craziness of the "back room" of Roots last Saturday went something like this:

So many Belgian beer fans! And even better: so many Belgian beers!

For those of you not in the know, this year's "Portland's Cheers to Belgian Beers" was a mini beer festival (I dislike the word "tastival") where all the breweries used the same yeast strain (Ardennes/ La Chouffe), but could make any type of beer they liked.

Now, I am a big fan of the Belgian beers -- especially dubbels -- so I was pretty hyped for this event, looking forward to some fruity, estery goodness. I walked up, paid my $10 bucks for a commemorative cup (I think I was one of the last to get the official glass) and five beer tickets. Read on for my unprofessional and highly unscientific reviews.

I started with the HUB El Diablo, which I guessed was supposed to be their interpretation of Duvel. It was fairly sweet and had a deep green hop presence which I found a little too aggressive for the style. Good, but given a choice, I'd rather have the HUB 7-Grain Stout.

Next was Rock Bottom's Floreal, which must have been fairly subtle, because I couldn't taste it at all after the Diablo. After a trip to Roots' self-service water station to cleanse my palate, I got a lot more out of the Rock Bottom beer; very smooth bodied, slightly dry finish, and not as fruity as some of the other entrants.

Next down the line was Laurelwood's Saison d'Arduinna which was absolutely killer. It poured a wonderful clear gold with perfectly sized bubbles. A light citrus tang was the perfect complement to the fruitiness of the Ardennes yeast. Not too fruity, not too malty. I could drink this all day.

Further down the line I found the Full Sail Dubbel, which I found somewhat thin bodied. The aroma and flavor were all there, but it had a strange acidic finish which I found kind of unpleasant.

After that, it was the Roots Bruin, Lompoc's Diablesse, something from Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, but by this time I started forgetting to take notes and some strange ingredient in the beers was affecting my memory. This has never happened before!

Anyways, I enjoyed the majority of the brews, but like Jeff over at Beervana, I got a "squash" character from several of the beers; one I wrote down as tasting like a "pumpkin beer." Though some of the beers didn't quite hit the high notes I thought they would, I highly suggest you put this on your calendar for next year.


The winners are in!

1st: Lucky Labrador's Malt Bomb

2nd: Laurelwood's Saison du Arduinna and Lucky Devil from Alameda Brewhouse (tie)

3rd: El Diablo from Hopworks Urban Brewery

Honorable Mention: Roots Farmhouse Bruin

Portland's Cheers To Belgian Beers