The Oregon Brewers Festival this year is pouring more than 100 beers and ciders, and for the first time they are all homegrown offerings from within the state. Among those, more than 80 will have their first release at the festival.
Everyone knows the IPA lines are traditionally the longest, but with 20 on tap, we can hope they’ll be manageable. European styles, with more than 30 taps, from pilsners to wheats to farmhouses, will also be plentiful, probably with shorter lines. Lovers of stouts, sours and various lighter styles will also have plenty to choose from.
A tart gose brewed with pink guava and a lick of sea salt that finishes ever so slightly sweet. “Toes in the water, (butt) in the sand, a smile on your face and a Fancy Umbrella Drink™ in your hand.”
As the summer weather warms the Willamette Valley, the brewers at ColdFire look toward lighter, easier drinking fermentations in the brewhouse. For its first appearance at OBF, ColdFire brewed a golden version of the standard Belgian table beer, a refreshing beverage that is usually lighter in body and lower in alcohol. The brewers added citrus fruit and grains of paradise and increased the ABV to a whopping 4.6%. This beer was made to be refreshing and quaffable with just a touch of intrigue.
Why it’s so damned good: A European grain bill, Belgian Abbey yeast, and a blend of European and Pacific Northwest hops come together to create a complex ale: bold and fruity yet dry and refreshing. Proost!
Alive and unpasteurized, this American style sour ale has loads of marionberries and watermelon juice. A bright but approachable acidity enhances the flavors of the fruits, giving way to a very drinkable and balanced beer.
Blend of Upright’s Flora Rustica with a vermouth barrel version of Gigantic’s Fantastic Voyage, this collaborative saison shows a wide botanical expression and a layered, yeast driven profile. A one-time project specific to the OBF, Flora Fantastica is refreshingly cool and complex.
This is a delicate farmhouse ale with the addition of kiwi, cucumber, and licorice root.
Landbier was made just for the Oregon Brewers Festival and it’s a perfect companion for summer days. Aromas of fresh sourdough, candied lemon, and white pepper complement notes of bright pear and white grape. Take this spun gold lager on a picnic in the gorge or anywhere the summer sun may take you.
Here is a festival-goers guide to help you navigate the uncountable beer styles — and variations on styles — you might come across:
These are mostly clear, light lagers with a crisp, clean profile.
- Gose: An old style from Leipzig, the unfiltered, yellowish wheat beer is recognizable by its salty, tart profile and a dry, spicy tanginess, along with a coriander profile. Usually not overly hoppy.
- Pilsner: First brewed in Bohemia, it is one of the most popular German lagers. Pale to yellow or golden in color, it classically is well-hopped while remaining crisp without being overpowering. Some can tend toward floral or earthy flavors.
- Kolsch: With Cologne as its birthplace, the kolsch style is similar to a pilsner but with a more fruity taste.
- Bock: Bocks are stronger and darker than other lagers, and the Helles bock, also known as a maibock, is a lighter version. They are hoppier and slightly less malty than traditional bocks, with toasty and spicy notes.
- Berliner Weisse: This wheat beer is the German version of a tart or sour. They are lively on the tongue and acidic often with citrus notes. They are less bitter and can be fruity.
- Dortmunder lager: This pale lager is slightly stronger, deeper in color and a touch maltier than a classic pilsner, without being overly so in any of those categories. It traditionally was also slightly higher in alcohol.
These run a wide range of beers and can be difficult to define, but are generally ales that are more malty than hoppy with a fruity or yeasty profile.
- White or wit: The witbier, or white beer, tend to be fruity and spicy. They can be slightly sweet with orange and coriander notes and often feature a cloudy sentiment.
- Saison: Fruity and spice-leaning beers with lively carbonation and a chewier mouthfeel. They are often golden orange to light in color. They have some sweetness with a funky earthiness, as well as a range of bitterness that’s not high compared with many Northwest styles.
- Blonde: These have a hint of sweetness and spice, with some fruity ester flavors.
- Dubbel: Rich, roasted malt beers that are darker amber and with a fruity, spicy profile.
- Trippel: Big, hearty, higher-alcohol beers that are golden in color and a spicy, dry profile. Usually more bitter than a typical Belgian ale, and darker and more full-bodied than a Belgian Golden Strong ale.
- Quad, or quadrupel: Robust, malty ales usually above 10% alcohol-by-volume and a deep reddish-brown. Dark and bolder than the dubbel or tripel.
- Golden strong: Fruity, spicy, dry and complex, with high alcohol level. Generally drier and lighter than a tripel.
- Lambic: The spontaneously fermented beers — meaning they are exposed to airborne yeast, pollen and bacteria early in the brewing process — can range from fruity to sour to funky to sweet. Fruit lambics have various fruits added while aging, and geuze is a blend of lambics aged on oak.
- Flanders red and brown: Deep- or bright-colored beers aged on wood that range from sweet to sour and carry complex layers of various flavors, such as dark fruit, leather, spice, chocolate, vanilla and candy.
These ales use mostly wheat in the brewing process and come in two main styles: The German weiss and the Belgian wit.
- The German-style weiss: Commonly brewed in the U.S. as an American hefeweizen, with lots of room for interpretation. They are often unfiltered, golden and tangy with some fruitiness and low to moderate bitterness.
- The Belgian witbier, or white beer: Tends to be more fruity and spicy than weissbeer. It can be slightly sweet with orange and coriander notes and often feature a cloudy sentiment.
These are often fruity, yeasty beers that are lightly bitter with a hint of sweetness.
- Saison: Originally brewed in winter by Belgian farmers for summer consumption, the rustic style has seen a revival in popularity among U.S. craft beer drinkers. They are fruity and spice-leaning beers with lively carbonation and a chewier mouthfeel. They are often golden orange to light in color. They have some sweetness with a funky earthiness, as well as a range of bitterness that’s not high compared with many Northwest styles.
- Biere de garde: With a similar history to saison but brewed in neighboring France, biere de garde ale is today more refined and cleaner than saison, a little less “rustic.” The cold-conditioned ale is maltier and smoother than a saison, but generally stronger.
- Grisette: The grisette is an easy-drinking style originally brewed in Belgium to slake the thirst of miners. Similar to a saison, they are pale with a touch of dry tartness and crisp effervescence. They are hoppy, but also traditionally low in alcohol.
Sour beer is just what it sounds like: tart or sour, with an acidic profile. In America they comprise wild ales; deeper, barrel-aged ales; kettle sours, which have less depth than barrel-aged and more effervescence; and some traditional Belgian styles. They use souring agents such as Brettanomyces yeast or lactobacillus or pediococcus bacteria.
The original craft beer style in the U.S., the pale ale takes its origins from Britain and was the starting point for the addition of hops to create the India Pale Ale. Light in color, pale ales are a fair balance of hops and malts. In America, they tend to be slightly hoppy, though short of the IPA, and are popular for flavor experimentation. They can be fruity and floral, crisp yet sturdy, so they go well with an array of food choices.
The most widely consumed craft beer, IPAs are similar to pale ales except stronger and hoppier, meaning an increase in bitterness. West Coast IPAs will have a deep, full malt body accompanied by a sharper hop flavor. They range from citrusy, to tropical, to piney, to “dank,” a term associated with a marijuana flavor profile. New England IPAs, also known as hazy or juicy IPAs, are cloudy IPAs that have a sweeter, fruitier taste and aroma, thus the “juicy” moniker, since some taste like fruit juice beers.
Lagers have their origins in Europe, but other styles have developed on this side of the pond, including the American lager and the Mexican lager. They are generally light-bodied, crisp and effervescent, with a delicate balance of malts and hops for maximum refreshment.
PORTERS and STOUTS
These are darker beers, from light brown to black, that carry a heavier malt character and are smooth, often with a thick, creamy mouthfeel. Their flavors range from toasted or roasted malt to chocolate, coffee and vanilla notes, to name a few. They are generally not hoppy.