Ah, Brew Fest, my favorite weekend in Portland.  The temperature rises exponentially throughout the day, and just when it is about to become unbearable, a nice cool breeze rolls in from the Willamette.  Breweries haul out their best work in order impress both beer drinking amateurs and aficionados.  Friends gather to drink good brew and make new friends.  It truly is an experience.

Oregon Brewers Festival 2010

So why does this wonderful weekend have to end?  Mostly because if it didn't, Portland would no longer function as a town.  But there are certain aspects of the Brew Fest that continue on well after the kegs have been packed up and the tents collapsed (I'm not just talking about the splitting headache the next day).  One of my favorite parts of OBF is discovering new breweries and ales that I can devour over the course of the next year.  In a way, OBF determines what I'll all be drinking for rest of the summer and into the winter months.

From the notes I gathered—many of them texts messages I was sending to a friend who couldn't attend—I have compiled a list of brews that everyone should be on the lookout for this summer.

Ninkasi's Maiden the Shade: According to the Brew Fest guide this beer contains seven different hops in the boil and another five used as a dry-hop. This is by far the most complex beer I tried. This IPA borders on too many flavors, but in the end, its palate comes out well-balanced. I'll definitely be searching out this IPA.  ABV: 6.8% IBU: 70

Bayern Brewing's Dump Truck Extra Pale Summer Bock: This brew took me by surprise. It smells like a lager, but it tastes like a pale ale. Bayern went through several processes to make this beer unique, from heating a portion of the wet grains and re-mixing them into the mash to long lagering, and Bayern's hard work shows. This beer is perfect for patio drinking on a summer afternoon.  ABV: 6.9% IBU: 28

Double Mountain's The Vaporizer: There was a mildly long wait for this brew on Friday afternoon. By Saturday night word had spread and the line was one of the longest. The Vaporizer is a Pale Ale that kicks a bit of a florally punch. In the end, what you have as a very clean ale that leaves you refreshed.  ABV: 6.0% IBU: 15

Pyramid Breweries' Outburst: This beer boasts an ABV of 8.5% but the taste comes off smooth. Don't let the dark amber color fool you, this beer does not finish malty. That's probably because Pyramid puts more than four pounds of hops per barrel.  ABV: 8.5% IBU: 80

EDITOR'S NOTE: Just wanted to say welcome aboard to Marcus!  This is his first post as a contributor to the site, so look forward to an opinion other than mine!  I know, a collective sigh of relief...