North American Organic Brewers Festival

There are lots of beer festivals in Portland. All of them are different in the fact that they usually serve different beers. Different styles. Different venues. Different breweries. Most of them are awesome, and although I really love trying new beers at beer festivals, I think this beer festival is different in the fact that it really isn't about beer. It's about caring. We go about our lives doing our daily routines and most of us (myself admittedly included) don't always take into consideration what kind of impact our agenda will leave on our planet. This festival is more of a message than a celebration of beer. Its message is sustainability and we the audience can be proactive participants in the end goal of what the NAOBF is trying to accomplish. The cups are made from compostable cornstarch that are made with solar power and hold beer that is made with organic, or mostly organic ingredients. We can take that into our lives by using reusable water bottles, or bottles only made from biodegradable cornstarch containers. The beer is made with organic ingredients. We can buy ingredients for our food that is organic and grown sustainably. There were at least 5 recycling stations that I counted throughout the festival where you could throw away anything that you were going to put to waste there knowing that at least 90% of it won't end up in a landfill (according to the programs they handed out). The food vendors which included Zuppa who was serving organic grilled cheese and cookies, Viva Vegetarian Grill was serving veggie dogs and soysages along with vegan cheese steaks, Farm to Fire Wood Fired Pizza and Fifty Licks Ice Cream, all used compostable serving ware. Plus the power for the event was provided by solar generators and biodiesel.

So now that I have hopefully driven the point of the festival into your noggin, I will discuss the beer. There was good... and there was not so good. Understandably as companies pull away from the products they are used to using and pushing towards organic (or in the case of some breweries they made one organic beer just for this festival) the quality and taste of the beer can vary greatly. I'll start with what I wasn't very impressed with which was McMenamins Dark Night Dunkelweizen brewed at the Old Church Brewery. It was malty but not sweet with little flavor. The first thing I noticed about it was that is was very heavily carbonated, which really took away from a flavor that I think would be better served on a nitro. There is no hop profile which left this brew with very little to give. I appreciate that McMenamins stepped away from their usual formula of Terminators and Ruby's to contribute to this festival and I hope that they keep working with this beer as I think it has a lot of potential that just wasn't attained this time around. Next up is my favorite of the festival. That would be the Yellow Wolves of Thailand Imperial IPA by Alameda. This organic take on their IPA is outstanding. They added mangoes, coconuts, Thai basil and ginger and swapped out the usual grain for organic. It has a strong citrus smell of lemons and oranges, the flavor is bitter (100 IBU) with the basil and ginger up front and then mango and coconut flavor to finish. It's a complex beer with the perfect body and carbonation level to deliver the flavor. Unfortunately I don't expect to see it anywhere ever again which is a very depressing thought. Guess I'll have to make my own... Other note worthy beers from the fest were Two Kilts Calluna Vulgaris which had a sweet citrus aroma with a floral/citrus flavor. With a light body and pale malt aftertaste this is a great summer beer. Fort George had a beer brewed with spruce tips called Spruce Budd Ale. This one was unique in that it was only brewed with spruce tips and organic malts. Funny thing is it had more of a berry flavor to me and a light malt aftertaste. Since bacon has such a cult following nowadays and everyone is making silly facebook pages about it and legally marrying it ect. I had to try the Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown and I am sad to say I couldn't taste the bacon. It is a good brown though, with a slight bitterness and a smokey aftertaste.

Music for the festival was provided by artists such as Valeri Lopez, Twisted Whistle and Kory Quinn for couple examples. These were the artists I heard and all were exceptional filling the wide open spaces of the roomy festival with lovely folksy music. Due to the weather cancelling my plans to attend the festival Saturday with some friends I ended up going Sunday alone, and going to a beer festival alone kind of usually sucks in my opinion. Well this festival had enough going on and I never really had to stand in line for a beer so I really didn't mind going solo on this one. Just kicked back, listened to the music, watched some parents playing with their kids in front of the stage and felt good about the fact that I was drinking an organic beer. And I was sure not to forget to recycle my compostable cup on my way out.