A festive plastic beer mug replaced my usual coffee mug this morning. The second press preview for the Spring Beer and Wine Festival, led by author and radio talk show host, Lisa Morrison, began at 10:30am today. My breakfast consisted of beer, a little port wine, some mouthwatering caramel, and a wee shot of gin; a balanced breakfast indeed.

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

With over 100 beers and ciders to try, the festival is the place to be this weekend. I was able to sample beers from three breweries, including Fire Mountain Brewery, Gilgamesh, and Ninkasi. Selected to impress, these breweries' star choices left me satisfied to the last drop. I want to give special attention to Ninkasi's Spring Reign. Simply put, if I had a choice to take a six pack home tonight, it would be Spring Reign. With a very crisp, perfectly carbonated mouth feel, this well rounded Blonde Ale fulfilled my liking for subtle hopiness and drinkability. It may be my craving for warm weather, but I can imagine this beer at my first BBQ, paired with a juicy bleu cheese burger or sweet and spicy ribs.

We were also able to sample many delectable snacks at the preview. Duker's Dills host a booth of savory pickle samples, with the slogan 'The longer they sit, the hotter they get.' Pickles fans will become smitten to the crunchy, spicy taste of these delicious pickles.

This year's Spring Beer and Wine Festival is a must. The festival has a little bit of everything, from the distinct quality beer and wine, to the savory snacks and unrivaled mechandise booths. You can also get a bit of pairing knowledge if you visit the chef's stage for scheduled demonstrations. Saturday, you'll be able to learn more about pairing craft beer and seafood, when Gary "Seafood Steward" Puetz and Lisa Morrison take the stage at 1pm.

Join me tonight, until 11pm. Or, make a trip to the Convention Center tomorrow from noon to 11pm to get a look of the Northwest's finest beer, wine, food, arts, and crafts. See you there!