Editor's Note: Before we continue with our regularly scheduled program, I just wanted to introduce our newest contributor, Rachael Bennett! Rachael has come to us from Boise, ID and is excited to learn about our beer culture here in PDX. Through her uncorrupted, starry eyes, she'll be posting about her new adventures as she explore the wonders of the Portland beer scene. This week, she gets to hang out with Lisa Morrison and cut her teeth at the Spring Beer and Wine Festival. Welcome aboard Rachael!
-Matt

 

It's true that you can enjoy an ice cold beer from anywhere in the US. A few cold ones was all it took for me to be happy about five years ago, my college years. Of course, the beer would have to be cold enough to numb my taste buds—and come with a funnel and some tubing.

As I matured, my taste buds did too, and they led me to the craft beer capital of the world, Portland, Oregon. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to, moving from the quaint city of Boise where I started my own beer blog. I thought I had all the craft beer experience I needed to be an expert. But, boy was I wrong.

My first official stop was Rogue Pubic House. I walked in with a little too much confidence and took a seat at the bar. It hit me right away that these were the big leagues. I was presented with over 30 draft choices, from Chipotle Ale to a Double Mocha Porter. I chose a comfortable wheat ale, their Honey Orange, and called it a night.

I ventured to a few other breweries since my arrival a few months ago, including Deschutes Brewery, Lucky Lab, and The Green Dragon. It was apparent, a few weeks in, that I would not be tackling all of the beer in town any time soon. But luckily, I was given the opportunity to contribute to Portlandbeer.org and have a scholarly excuse to drink beer every day of the week. I'll take it.

Spring Beer and Wine Festival April 22 & 23, 2011 Friday & Saturday 12:00 noon till 11:00pm
 
Oregon Convention Center 777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Portland, Oregon

My first true adventure was presented to me last Friday, when I was given the chance to sample some local brews with the founder of the Spring Beer and Wine Festival, Steve Woolard and Portland’s “Beer Goddess,” Lisa Morrison. We were given a sneak peak of some of the beers that would appear at the Festival, Easter weekend. My favorite was Hop Heaven IPA, by Columbia River Brewing. This surprisingly smooth beer conquered the rest with its hoppy bite and solid finish. This is a beer I would order again and again. We also sampled a few treats presenting themselves at the festival including Brazi Bites and Tail and Trotter's Prosciutto. The golf-ball sized bites from Argentina had a delicious oven baked crust and cheesy center. The Prosciutto really impressed me, produced from pigs fattened on hazelnuts, rather than the traditional acorn. Both snacks were a perfect fit for any beer tasting. Who can go wrong with meat and cheese?

The preview was a lot of information, indeed. We got a short history lesson on each of the breweries we were sampling as well as some interesting facts about the Spring Beer and Wine Festival's imported glasses that change every year. Stay tuned for more details on the beers I tried in my next post this Friday.

Lisa Morrison
Lisa Morrison signing her new book, Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover's Guide To Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

With all of this new information, it was time to crack open the books and educate myself only the styles of beer and all they offer before the big Festival. And, it just so happened I was able to snag a copy of Lisa Morrison's new book, Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover's Guide To Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It couldn't have been a better time for this book to fall into my possession. Lisa's book tells of all the breweries in Portland and gives very valuable information to the prospective beer connoisseur, including the brewery's history, interesting facts, and the beers you should be ordered before you step out the door. This is a book that should be delivered to every new resident in Portland along with the Home Depot coupons and community newsletter. It's safe to say, I've found my new drinking buddy, and it's only 200 pages long.

So, join me at the Spring Beer and Wine Festival this weekend for exceptional artisan food and drink. I'll be ready with my paperback sidekick and an empty stomach to be able to savor all the festival has to offer. Let my Beer Journey Begin!