Oregon Brewers Festival 2007

Posted by Banjo Bandolas

Oregon Brewers Festival

Don’t ya think every Beerfest should start with a parade? I’ve just returned from way too much fun at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival and the parade really set the mood for me.

The OBF has begun with a walking parade for several years but due to excessive indulgence on my part at the brewer’s dinner and after parties the night before; I’ve never managed to drag my body from the sack in time to make it. This year I made myself a promise to join the parade.

8am Thursday morning: The birds were singing and children playing when I pried my crusty lids apart.

“Damn birds! Damn kids! Knock it off out there! Don’t you know some of us have sensitive nerve endings this morning? Noise pollution! That’s what it is! Now get out of here before I sick Michael Moore on you!”

There were a dozen or so people already at the Rogue Ales Public House on 14th & NW Flanders when I arrived at 9am for the special pre-parade Oregon Brewer’s brunch that was set to begin at 10am, and they, like me, expected a large crowd. We weren’t disappointed. By the time the doors opened I’d say there were a hundred people waiting. By the time I’d finished eating that number had doubled. Ah, there’s, nothing like a pint, a nice breakfast, and a big build-it-yourself Bloody Mary to get a growing boy off on the right foot in the morning.

Many of craft beer’s movers and shakers were in attendance. Tom Dalldorf of Celebrator, the Widmer Brothers, Jay Brooks, Fred Eckhardt, Rogue’s Jack Joyce, and Don Younger of Horse Brass to name a few. The air was filled with excited chatter as we donned our official parade T-shirts and tuned up our kazoo’s. Portland Mayor, Tom Potter, would lead our raucous band on a winding journey of 18 blocks through downtown Portland to the pot-o-gold at the end, the Oregon Brewer’s Festival at the Tom McCall waterfront park.

PBS was there to document the occasion as part of an overall piece on the entire event. Don Younger mentioned the folks from the Food Channel were also in town doing a piece on OBF.

Oregon Brewers FestivalMayor Potter and Event Director, Art Larrance of Raccoon Lodge Brewery led the way, followed by the wail of bagpipes from the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Pipe and Drum corps, the Monks carrying the symbolic opening ceremony cask, and then the rest of us playing our kazoo’s for all we were worth.

The walk was brisk and joyful; the people of Portland along the route came out of their homes and businesses to cheer us on. Before I knew it we were at the river gathered around the cask. Salivating as Mayor Potter gave his OBF opening spiel and tapped the cask. The opening beer was a tribute ale by Rogue dedicated to brewer Glen Falconer’s memory called Aged Glen Anniversary Ale. The ale was a dark amber color with a sweet malt aroma. A nice balance of caramel malt flavor and citrus hop with a mildly dry finish. Not bad guys . . . not bad at all, one of the best strong ales I tasted at OBF.

Oregon Brewers FestivalI worked down the list of the OBF’s most notable beers. Next year I’ve got to remember to bring some crackers or something. After the first bad big beer I was having a hard time tasting anything while my mouth recovered from excessive IBU levels. Sorry, I may live in the Northwest but I’m not a big fan of overly hopped beer with huge IBU’s. Hops have a place in my beer and my tongue begs for a little balance and diversity . . . but that’s just me. I don’t eat habanero chili’s either.

I cleansed my mouth with a nice pale ale and began again. As I worked my way down the line I found some exceptional beers that stood out from the pack:

Hopworks Urban Brewery; Christian Ettinger, formerly of Laurelwood Brewery is opening his own place in Portland. Now here I’m about to contradict my previous statement. Because even though the Hopworks IPA has an IBU of 71, I found the light amber beer to be balanced and enjoyable.

Flying Fish Brewery, a New Jersey brewery you don’t hear a lot about over on the right coast, brought a great beer to the table with its Flying Fish Bourbon Barrel Abbey Dubbel. This rich, complex dubbel was aged in bourbon casks. It exudes a fruity nose and generous malty body and has a dry almond-like finish with a little alcohol burn . . . gantastic!

Fifty-Fifty Brewery – Donner Party Porter. Tahoe (really Truckee) is the new home of renowned Midwest brewer Todd Ashman and the Fifty-Fifty Brewery (opened in May). I’m an unabashed fan of the porter style and the Donner Party Porter lives up to Todd’s reputation for well planned, impeccably brewed beers, I look forward to the aged porter that’s in Jack Daniels barrels now, but it’s hard to imagine how this could be a better.

Lompoc Brewing – SummerAid, a light golden ale, so easy on the palate, a perfect cleanser after too much big beer on a hot day.

There you have it, my take on the offerings at the 2007 Oregon Brewers Fest. No I did not try all 73 beers, but I did make a dent in that list.

Editor’s note: This was probably the most blogged about festival ever. The Beervana wrapup will lead you to more blogs or visit RSBS and look for OBF posts.


Floods devastate UK pubs

The Publican reports that pubs and breweries in the UK are in a fight to save their businesses as floods devastate areas of England.

In the wettest summer weather since records began, 500 pubs were under water with thousands suffering the knock-on effects leaving them with no water or electricity. Pubs in Gloucester were being urged to close amid health and safety fears.

Flood waters, which have caused destruction in parts of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire, are heading east with pubs in Oxford, Reading and Abingdon still on flood alert.


Beer still America’s drink of choice

Gallup’s annual update on Americans’ drinking habits shows beer again topping wine as the adult beverage of choice.

The poll received much attention in 2005 when wine – which consistently ranked below beer – jumped ahead, 39%-36%.

Beer returned to the top last year, being favored by 41% of those who drink (64% of the population), and in 2007 was at 40%.

According to a press release from Anheuser-Busch, beer represents the largest segment in the alcohol beverage category in both volume and dollar sales and accounts for 56% of all alcohol beverage servings.

Gallup points out that male, female, younger, and older drinkers have different beverage preferences, primarily in regards to beer versus wine. Beer is the favored beverage among male drinkers and younger drinkers, while wine is the top choice among female drinkers and older drinkers.

Not long after the 2005 results were released, Bob Lachky of Anheuser-Busch embarked on a campaign to improve beer’s image that turned into Here’s to Beer.

“We are very pleased with the reception the ‘Here’s To Beer’ campaign has received from our fellow brewers, as well as from the beer distributor and retailer communities,” Lachky – now executive vice president, Global Industry Development – said in the A-B press release. “Additionally, we’re encouraged by the consumer data such as today’s Gallup poll and this year’s ACNielsen global trend report that reinforce beer’s supremacy as a driver of food and beverage growth worldwide.”

Here’s to Beer will soon launch “The Beer Connoisseur” web site – an online beer university in which adults can enroll to learn about beer’s ingredients, brewing process, styles and the fundamentals of food-pairing.


Shiner Bocktoberfest canceled

Travis Poling reports that the popular Shiner Bocktoberfest has been canceled after 13 years.

Gambrinus, which owns the Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, sponsored the festival – and it had turned into one of the most popular music festivals in Texas.

A letter to the Chamber from Gambrinus founder and CEO Carlos Alvarez said there will be no Bocktoberfest in 2007 because the brewery needed to focus on expanding its beer production. The event lost money for the last few years as it grew.

“It’s going to be missed, no doubt about,” said Shiner Mayor Henry Kalich of Bocktoberfest’s end. “It was a big part of our economy.”


Wet weather may drive up beer prices

Wet weather in northern Europe and Great Britain could reduce the quantity and quality of the barley harvest, and in turn lead to still higher prices for barley, then malt and beer.

Many American brewers, particularly smaller brewers, use British and European malts.

German spring barley prices have now risen to around 260 euros a ton, up 50 euros since the start of the year, while German malt prices have risen to around 475 euros a ton, up about 80 euros since January.

Michael Lerch, chief executive of the Association of German Malt Producers, indicated a troubled harvest could lead to quality concerns:

“We still have to wait for the actual harvest to come in during the next few weeks, so the current picture is still speculative. If not enough spring barley is available, then alternatives must be sought.”

“It could be that eventually barley which normally would go for animal feed will have to be used for brewing. This was also done in the past year when spring barley supplies were tight.”

“You would not notice this in the quality of beer, but such barley produces malt which is more difficult and time-consuming to brew beer with.”

More about barley quality, malt quality and beer quality.


A-B expects strong second half

Anheuser-Busch profits increased 6% in the second quarter, helped by strength in its U.S. beer operations. The company forecast accelerating earnings growth for the second half of the year.

A-B sold 27.5 million barrels of beer in the United States, up 2.3%, while it moved 5.9 million barrels overseas, a gain of 1.6%. International gains were driven by increased volume in China, Canada and Mexico, partially offset by lower volume in the United Kingdom.

New products – both those produced by A-B and imports new to the portfolio – drove the growth.

U.S. distributors’ sales to retailers such as gas stations, bars and grocery stores inched up only a tenth of a percent in the second quarter versus a year ago.

If new imports such as Stella Artois and Bass Pale Ale were subtracted from the mix, sales of A-B’s “trademark” brands to retailers would have dropped 1.5%. Those include Budweiser, Michelob and Busch.


Swedish lovin’ American craft beers

So have you wondered by a growing number of Europeans seem to be posting tasting notes for U.S.-brewed beers at Beer Advocate and Rate Beer?

A press release from the Brewers Association the association’s Export Development Program:

Efforts from the Brewers Association’s (BA) Export Development Program (EDP) have made U.S. craft beer available across much of Europe largely in part due to relationships U.S. craft breweries established with Bier & Co. (Holland’s largest specialty beer importer/distributor).

In early 2007 Bier & Co. purchased four containers of U.S. craft beer (valued at $110,000) for distribution in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland. Additionally, Netherlands retailer, Mitra, has approached Bier & Co. about mixed packs of U.S. craft beers in 350 of Mitra’s stores. The negotiations of this deal are ongoing.

Since 2004 the BA has used funds from United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP) to help promote the importance of U.S. craft beer in Europe. The BA uses these funds to educate U.S. breweries about export opportunities and build global recognition for the diversity and quality of American craft beer.

In 2006 with MAP funds the BA brought two representatives from Bier & Co. to the Great American Beer Festival to educate them about U.S. craft beer. Bob Pease, Vice President of the Brewers Association says, “The relationships developed at the Great American Beer Festival between Bier & Co. and U.S. craft breweries helped seal deals between Bier & Co. and three U.S. craft breweries (five more are pending).”

In addition to work with Bier & Co. the BA has been able (with the MAP funds) to attend the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival. Since 2004, Systembolaget, Sweden’s alcohol retail monopoly, has added four U.S. craft brands to its general list and many more to its seasonal and limited-time offerings (these companies include: Boston Beer Company, Brooklyn Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Co, Flying Dog Brewery, North Coast Brewing Company, and Rogue Ales). Sweden now represents the largest export market for U.S. craft beers with exports in 2006 totaling in excess of $1 million. This figure does not include purchases from Left Hand Brewing Co. (Colorado), whose Milk Stout is set to launch in 200 stores in 2007.

Just in case you overlooked that last fact: Sweden now represents the largest export market for U.S. craft beers with exports in 2006 totaling in excess of $1 million.


Stock analysts predicts A-B, InBev alliance

Analysts for Citigroup predict an alliance between Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Belgian-based InBev likely and write it “will have a domino effect on the entire global industry.”

Anheuser-Busch “is at a critical juncture at this stage as it has managed to box itself into a corner,” the analysts wrote. It “has no other choice, in our view, but to combine with another global beer player to quickly dig itself out of the slow growth trajectory and restore the company’s position in global brewing.”

A big reason Citigroup is making the prediction: It believes A-B CEO August Busch IV is “incredibly focused on winning and regaining A-B’s past glory,” the report said.


Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing breaking up

The rather large boom you heard this morning came out of Yards Brewing Co. in Philadelphia.

Basically, the only production brewery in the city is breaking up. Great reporting about this on multiple fronts:

– Jack Curtin has details has his own site and the Beer Yard (link at his site).

– Don Russell (Joe Sixpack) turns the press release into English:

Founder and co-owner Tom Kehoe is splitting with his partners, Bill and Nancy Barton, and will move the 13-year-old brewery to a new, to-be-chosen location. Production of the beer is expected to continue without interruption.

The Bartons will keep Yards’ hulking brewing facility in Kensington and begin producing a new brand.

The breakup ends an occasionally bumpy, eight-year partnership that saw the beloved brewery grow into the city’s most popular microbrewed brand.

About 200 taverns throughout Philadelphia and the region serve Yards, and its flagship Philly Pale Ale is poured at Phillies and Eagles games.

“We basically had two different philosophies about how to run the company,” Kehoe said yesterday. “It was time for me to move on.”

To recap, when this is over Yards beers will be made someplace else and something else will be made at what was Yards brewery.

Curtin has the full press release and (we expect) will offer more details/commentary in the coming days.

Updated Aug. 7: The Philadelphia Inquirer has an update, more details.


City Brewery sells off brands

City Brewery in LaCrosse, Wis. – home of the world’s largest six-pack – is selling all its locally owned beer brands to a shareholder and getting out of the beer distribution business.

Brands such as La Crosse Lager, Kul Light and Golden Leaf Wheat still will be made by City Brewery and distributed by the new company.

City Brewery created the brands in 1999 when it reopened the former G. Heileman brewery. Heileman previously had six lagering tanks big enough to hold 7.3 million cans of beer painted to look like a giant six-pack of Old Style. City had the tanks repainted to read “LaCrosse Lager.”


Portland International Brewfest

Posted by Banjo Bandolas

“The Greatest Beers You’ve Never Heard Of!”

Please excuse my late report on the PIB event last weekend. It’s been so long since we’ve had rain here in Oregon I believe my brain cells were drying up and flaking away. Today brought a blessed downpour and I feel like my brain is getting back to its normal, albeit abnormal by medical standards, functionality.

Portland international Brewfest

Oregon is at the tail end of a heat wave and the temperature was just a touch above my comfort level as I navigated the narrow one way streets of downtown Portland, to the Park blocks of the Pearl District. I looked forward to a wonderful evening of rare and unusual beer at PIB, the Portland International Beerfest. PIB’s advertising claimed “Over 100 rare beers from 15 countries!” That was enough to lure me up over a hundred miles from Hippytown (Eugene, OR) to the big city two weeks before Oregon Brewers Fest.

The Portland International Beerfestival, or PIB, is a smaller version of SIB, The Seattle International Beerfestival, a large and popular annual event held at the end of June in Seattle. I found SIB to be a huge, throbbing festival that reflects the amped-up Starbucks culture of Seattle, whereas PIB is small, laid-back, and very much a reflection of its host city. The event strives to bring you “The Greatest Beers You’ve Never Heard Of!” a bold ambition when you consider the attendee’s are residents of Beervana.

Portland international Brewfest

I was given 10 tickets and a 4 oz. sample glass for my $20 entry fee and I wanted to make the best use of them before resorting to buying the dreaded EXTRA tickets at $1 each.

I scanned the program. There was an impressive list of beers, and in some cases breweries, I’d never heard of. Each beer cost 1, 2, 3, or 4 tickets depending on “swank factor” (according to event organizers). The general consensus I and my fellow imbibers came to was the number of tickets had more to do with the AMOUNT of that particular beer the organizers had been able to procure rather than any “swank factor”.

I was happy to find no impenetrable throngs around the pouring stations. I didn’t see a line of more than two or three other people at any particular station. People were very relaxed, and many brought their dogs and came prepared to enjoy the fest with cards or backgammon sets.

I was driving and had to keep my intake within reason so don’t expect a long list of tasting notes here. I tried some great ones, some good ones, some bad ones, and some truly awful swill.

Portland international Brewfest

I selected a light beer to start off. I’d heard of Zatec, the new import from Merchant Du Vin, and made a beeline for the booth. Zatec bears the name of the region it’s been brewed in since 1004, Zatec Czech Republic, located in the world famous Saaz hops region. The beer, a bright and sparkling lager, was a light, well balanced blend of malt and hops with a very clean, slightly fruity, finish. This is my idea of a perfect summer thirst quencher. I rank it high with my other new favorite summer beer, Haymaker, an extra light ale by Portland’s Bridgeport Brewery.

Okay, now my palette was prepped for something a little more complex. Direction came from Alan Shapiro of SBS imports who mentioned his Brewer’s Reserve Signature collaboration ale by Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port Brewery and Dirk Naudts of DeProef Brouwerji. They designed the beer with four different malts, saccharomyces and brettanomyces fermentations, and some aggressive west coast hopping with three different varieties. The result was a delicious malty blend of citrus notes and hop bite with an underlying yeast tartness. It was the most unusual beer of the fest for me and I recommend it. I understand it will be available first thru Michael Jackson’s Rare Beer Club.

Moving down the line, I felt the old compulsion many of us fall prey to, beers with weird names. Being an Oregon Duck fan how could I resist a beer called “Sick Duck”? The full name is Sick Duck Rum-Barrel Imperial Stout. It’s an 11% abv barrel-aged Imperial Stout from Washington’s Flyers Brewery. The pouring at PIB was the first time Flyer’s beers had been available in Oregon. This special version of Sick Duck was a monster Imperial Stout that had been aged in barrels that previously contained French Oak and Pyrat XO Reserve, a 15 year old Caribbean rum. This is a big beer, not for the timid! Molasses and caramel notes complimented the strong bourbon nose and taste followed by an unexpectedly nice finish, in short quite enjoyable, but thank god it was only 4 oz.

The success with Sick Duck led me down a garden path, and I made a few missteps. Old Engine Oil lived up to its name as total swill. Another clinker was Black Boss Porter, a 9.4% abv Baltic Porter that could have, in my humble opinion, doubled for a pancake topping.

Portland international Brewfest

My next choice didn’t take a lot of thought, when I saw the Ommegang Three Philosophers on the list I went directly to the booth, cleansed my palette, and apologized to my mouth with two servings of that truly great beer. Though Brewery Ommegang is located in New York State, Three Philosophers actually has roots in Portland. There was a contest where readers of were asked to describe the perfect beer. A Portlander came up with the winning words and Ommegang went to work bringing the description to life. Three Philosophers was born. Three Philosophers is a blend of Belgian dark strong ale and Lindeman’s Kriek. It produces a nose of sweet cherries, malt, vanilla and with slightly sour Kriek notes.

My double indulgence in Three Philosophers left me ticketless. I decided this was as good a stopping point as any. The two Portland police officers talking to a couple departing festival goers reinforced my decision and I said goodbye to the Pearl District and P-Town.

I came to PIB somewhat doubtful they could pull off the bold claims of their advertising, I’m happy to concede they hit their mark and look forward to next years list of “The Greatest Beers You’ve Never Heard Of!”


Schneider, Brooklyn brewers collaborate

Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-WeisseBrewmaster Hans-Peter Drexler of G. Schneider & Son brewery joins Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver today in Brooklyn to brew Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse 2.0.

The strong pale weissbock (8% abv) is heavily dry-hopped with Drexler’s favorite American hop varieties. It will be fermented using the Schneider Weissbier strain of yeast. Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse will be part of The Brooklyn Brewery’s Brewmaster’s Reserve Series, and will be released on draft in mid-August.

Oliver visited the Schneider brewery in Germany nine weeks ago to brew the first version of Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse. This was essentially the same beer, but dry-hopped with the spicy Hallertauer Saphir variety of hop, grown in the fields near the Schneider brewery.

“Essentially, “I brewed a beer in Germany to celebrate Schneider’s hop terroir, and now Hans-Peter is brewing a beer in Brooklyn to celebrate our hop terroir,” Oliver said.

The bottle-conditioned Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse was released earlier this week, including in US markets where Schneider beers are sold.


Sierra Nevada bottles Anniversary Ale

For the first time in its 27-year history, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. will release its Anniversary Ale in bottles.

“When we heard people had driven all the way from San Francisco last year to try some of this beer, and how disappointed they were when they couldn’t take some home, we figured it was time to make our Anniversary Ale available to everyone on a consistent basis,” said brewery founder and CEO Ken Grossman.

Sierra Nevada historically has been able to produce its Anniversary Ale only intermittently.

“Ever since we put out our 25th Anniversary Ale in 2005, the demand to make this an annual beer has increased,” said Sierra Grossman, the company’s brand manager. “Since we don’t offer growlers to-go at the brewery, people have been pretty frustrated over the years that they haven’t been able to take any Anniversary Ale home.”

The 2007 Anniversary Ale features prominent usage of Cascade hops – the signature hop used in Sierra Nevada’s most popular product, Pale Ale. A company press release describes it as “an American Style IPA with a big, fragrant pine and citrus hop aroma balanced by the sweetness of two-row pale and caramel malt. It finishes with an additional Cascade dry-hopping creating a big hop aroma Sierra Nevada fans will look forward to.”


Adnams, Meantime announce partnership

From the British Guild of Beer Writers site:

Adnams, the Southwold-based brewer and leisure retailer, announced today that it had secured exclusive distribution and sales rights of Meantime draught beers throughout the UK and sales rights to all Meantime packaged beers.

The move came following the strategic decision for Adnams to strengthen the range of products available to them. Alastair Hook, founder of Meantime Brewery comments, “I feel very proud that our two companies are working together. Adnams is a brand that is trusted and recognised for pushing the boundaries of what is expected from a regional brewer. They have a strong base of high quality customers throughout London and the South that are well suited to Meantime beers. Adnams and Meantime share a similar philosophy and passion which we strive to express to our consumers, who understand and identify with the special nature of our beers.”

Adnams Managing Director Andy Wood explains, “Adnams is famous for brewing a wide range of excellent English beers. By working with selected third parties like Meantime we can further enhance our portfolio of premium brands and in turn, strengthen our relationship with our customers. Adnams has a record of developing successful long-term partnerships with like-minded companies such as Bitburger and Aspalls, recognising that this gives us access to premium products that we are not able to produce ourselves.

“We have long admired the work of Meantime. Our companies share a passion for brewing interesting and flavourfull beers and the addition of Meantime draught beers compliments the Adnams range extremely well. Our sales team is fired up and roaring to go with their portfolio boosted by the Meantime deal. Meantime offer an exceptional variety of beers from Bavarian-style Helles to their Anglo-American style Pale Ale. Their latest beer, London Stout, is particularly exciting and it is fantastic to see the brewing of this famous style of beer return to its roots in London.”

Both breweries sell a limited numbers of beers from the respective ranges in the United States.


A-B helps boost Czechvar sales

What was the effect of the decision by Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar to make a deal with Anheuser-Busch to distribute Czechvar in the United States?

Sales were up 58% in the first half of the year.

Budvar and Anheuser-Busch signed a contract for Czechvar sales in January this year.

The two brewers have wrangled over the Budweiser trademark for more than 100 years. Disputes have been settled gradually, some of them won by the US company and others by the Czech brewer. Because A-B has the rights to the Budweiser in the US, Budvar sells its beer as Czechvar in the States.

While the growth is significant, the US was only the sixth leading market for Budvar in 2006. The brewery’s export numbers:
Germany 190,000 hectolitres, Great Britain 106,000, Slovakia 60,000, Austria 45,000, Italy 10,000, United States 8,000.