Portland Fruit Beer Festival 2011
2012 Portland Fruit Beer Festival Saturday June 9th, 11am-9pm Sunday June 10th, 11am-6pm All ages welcome

The Portland Fruit Beer Festival was my personal favorite last year. You can imagine my excitement at being able to go behind the scenes a week before the fest to chat with the people and brewers of the PFBF and try some of the beers you'll be waiting in line to drink this weekend. The brain behind this immensely successful festival is Ezra Johnson-Greenough of the New School, and I was stoked to listen to him talk about his efforts to make this year's festival bigger and better than last year's. According to Ezra, this year you can look forward to live music, more space and of course,  more beer to go in it.

"We have kept the spirit and the creative and unique beers the same by bringing back most of the brewers from last year and many more to join them. The only big changes are that we will have much more of everything starting with the space, expanding from just Burnside Brewing onto E. 7th street will double our space. We also will have about twice as many different beers as last year and even more than twice as many kegs of those so that hopefully we have no issues running out. I also have a growing affinity for craft hard cider so we are dabbling with a few of those in the lineup. Another big addition but one that is behind-the-scenes is that with the success of last year I was able to hire 2 great people: Jeremie Landers and Holly Emery-Wallen to take some of the responsibilities off my shoulders so that I can concentrate on other things. I think this will help things run much smoother. Also of note is the addition of draft trailers to keep the beer flowing smoother and well conditioned and a live music stage."

At the media preview we were given tasters of 7 beers Ezra wanted to highlight, the brewers were available to give details on the process of making fruit beers and why they chose their particular mix. Ezra was a big part in their choices, he made suggestions on beers he'd like to see made for the festival and made sure to keep repeats out so you won't be seeing two Mango IPA's!

Portland Fruit Beer Festival 2011
Festival Organizer Ezra Johnson-Greenough

"I made a lot of suggestions for beers this year. I try not to step on anyone's toes if they are feeling creative and have their own idea then I step back but this year I had a handful of beers that I wanted to see brewed and I also wanted to encourage brewers to use more exotic fruits. Most brewers jump at the chance to do something fun with fruit and have their own thoughts but a couple beer ideas I suggested are getting made namely Oakshire's Orange Chocolate Porter modeled after one of my favorite candies and the Strawberry Rhubarb berliner-weisse (my favorite type of pie) that Flat Tail is making. I have some even crazier ideas for fruit beers that I will try to get made next year."

After sampling the beers at the media preview, I have high hopes for the rest of the beers at the festival and I think Ezra and the brewers have come up with some extremely original and delicious fruity concoctions.

Must Try: Burnside Brewing sampled out their Imperial stout Red Light District, which was brewed with Belgian chocolate and 400 pounds of strawberries, then aged in rum barrels. Even though it weighs in at a whopping 10.2%, but don't be afraid, it was inspired by a gourmet dessert and tastes delicious. Despite being an imperial stout, the flavors are light and refreshing, an impressive stout for the seasoned as well as the beginner.

Most Original: Upright Brewing brought the Levinator, a barley based bock brewed with Bavarian weisse yeast, and matured in pinot barrels with Oregon Black Currant puree. The nutty flavor of the base beer comes out and blends perfectly with the fruity character of the currants.

Most Likely To Succeed: Widmer Brothers Marionberry Hibiscus Gose was the most popular at last year's festival (though it was made with raspberries rather than marionberries) and I instantly saw why. Made with a healthy dose of Oregon-grown Marionberries as well as organic dried Hibiscus flowers and clove and coriander flavors to round it out. The fruit and flower flavors are strong and complimentary, with a tartness that is softened by the perfect amount of carbonation.

Most Sessionable: Hopworks Urban Brewery offers up the What Up Apple-Weizen. A Bavarian style Hefeweizen with organic Cameo apples from Washington. With the very light tartness and hearty apple flavor, you could sip on this all night.

If I haven't convinced you yet, check out the taplist and the more recently released rare and rotating taplist. Join us at the 2nd Annual (Bigger and Better) Portland Fruit Beer Festival this weekend at 7th & E. Burnside.