Holiday Ale Festival Beer Brunch wrapup

I have a couple stories I like to tell about me and Portland and beer. One of them is how, five short weeks after I moved to Portland, I was driving around in a bitter funk and not entirely certain I was going to make it as an Oregonian. I saw a bunch of tents set up by the river, and decided to find a place to park and investigate. I bought a tasting mug and five tickets (that being the extent I thought I could stretch my meagre temp office worker salary). After my first sip of a beer that has been lost to memory, I realised that I would do very well here. Very well, indeed. And that was my first OBF.

Even after that introduction, it wasn’t until I had a higher paying (temp) job and the winter beers started hitting the shelves that I really began exploring the breadth and depth of Beervana. The Holiday Ale Festival 2005 was the first time I volunteered for a brew festival, back when it was a cash bar and the volunteers pouring split the tips.

There have been changes, of course, over the years, but I always have fun. This year? No exception. Even with the price hike from $35 to $45 for the Beer Brunch, it was fantastic.

One change I really liked this year was the smaller size, and the ushers(? that’s what we’d call them at church) who ensured every seat was filled starting from the back forward. One change I hated this year was that the tickets used for beer at the brunch were not good in the main tent.

Now, on to the important part: BEER!

The gentlemen manning the taps said that Preston recommended the Cascade Brewing Company Golden Spiced Blonde as a starter, and Preston? Is frickin’ awesome, so I took that recommendation. Very nice, light, slightly citrusy beer. Good thing to sip on an empty stomach on a Sunday morning– What? Don’t judge me, I was sipping it in line for the fantastic pastries and nibbles and one of the most awesome breakfast croissant-sammiches I’ve had in my life.

Being the nontraditional taster that I am (read: too damn ADD to follow the usual lighter to darker tasting pa—OOOH A BIRDIE!) I next went for the Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch. Because I liked the label. Super-dark beer, and it smelled like all the good things I like (chocolate, coffee, roasted malt), but it hits the tastebuds like cold coffee liberally laced with bourbon. I liked it, but it was a shock to the senses in the morning, I tell you what. Others around me weren’t all that fond of it. Of course, as I’m writing this now and looking at the crib sheet from the brunch itself, now I realise this is the one made with that civet-cat-crapped-coffee!

Going with my “ooh, PRETTY!” method of beer selection, I got the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Black and Blue next. Fizzy, fruity smell, and a fizzy, fruity taste. I had several pours of this during the brunch, which is weird since I usually don’t go for the fruit beers.

At this point most everyone around me had gone for the Cascade Brewing Company Cascade Apricot Ale (2008), but I remembered I HATED this one the last time I tried it, so I skipped it. I just don’t do sour too well, and the faces the folks around me were making? Yeah, this puppy was way sour.

And now it was noon, and they popped the top on the big bottle of the Tripel? I think? I am a bad person because I took no notes no what the heck it was. It was— okay. Not too thrilling. I went back to the taps and got a Brasserie Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux 2008, which was probably my second-favorite beer of the brunch. It had wonderful flavors that played across the tongue bla bla bla whatevs, basically, this beer was awesome and I weep for you who didn’t get to try it. Seriously.

I also weep for those of you who didn’t get any of the Unibroue La Fin du Monde, which was brewed with a champagne yeast (I think Preston said what kind but I was kind of far back and couldn’t hear very well, also, see above re: v. v. bad person who didn’t take notes).

It. Was. Fabulous. Fantastic. Fizzy. Another positive adjective that starts with F. It was the kind of beer where small groups of people stood around looking into the bottom of their mugs, with little bits of foam still clinging to the sides, and saying to each other, “That was a good beer.”

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