Not every beer is going to be a winner, and you have to admire breweries that try something different. Still, honorable failures remain failures, and you shouldn't waste precious stomach space on them.
- Laht Neppur Strawberry Cream Ale. It wasn't shocking that this beer was treacly, but I was surprised that it was such a muddy, indistinct treacle.
- Caldera Hibiscus Ginger Beer. The razor's edge between success and failure is the difference between this beer and Caldera's rose-infused beer at PIB--the best I tasted there. Hibiscus Ginger is overly sweet--a few more hops would have helped--and too gingery. All the ingredients are right, but the recipe needs tinkering
Generally speaking, the beers at this year's OBF are solid. I got very few poor pours, and spent the day nodding appreciatively. These were highlights for me:
- Boulevard Tank 7 Saison. A complex, slightly edgy interpretation. I like Sofie better, but reasonable people can disagree.
- Collaborator Sunstone Pilsner. A vividly-hopped, rich pilsner. If this were available in bottles, I'd buy it all the time.
- Deschutes Fresh-Squeezed IPA. I saved the IPAs for later, so my palate and memory aren't precise, but I was impressed with how multilayered the Citra hops tasted.
- Goose Island Sofie. The best head at the fest--dense as cream cheese and just as white. Anyone who's at all interested in farmhouse styles should try it.
- Green Flash Le Freak. Possibly the best hoppy beer I tried, but definitely a lot of Belgian character. Quite a bit of fun, and I'm happy to know it's a bottled beer.
- Hop Valley Alpha Centuri Binary IPA. I recall this being fantastic, but why? That I don't recall.
- Rogue 21. This is just a big ol' homebrew, with all the fun and idiosyncracies left in. I might have brewed it. Probably quite a bit how old ales used to be brewed, too. Burly, sweet, rich, fun.
- Three Creeks Creekside Kolsch. Didn't smell as I expected--a bit of sulphur, not much hops, but on the palate it was pure summer. Crisp, fresh, dry.
Best in Show
My two favorite beers both came from the Buzz Tent. At two tokens a pop, they were major steals. (Keep in mind that the OBF's token prices have never gone up--they have always been a buck, which means the price for a beer has steadily declined through the years. Two bucks for four ounces of rare beer is a deal I'd take any day.) The terrible downside to the Buzz Tent--and one the Fest must fix in future--is that no one knows what the beers are. They have a name and that's it. As a result, my report is incomplete.
- Oakshire. This was some dark, rich beer aged in a pinot barrel. Man, it was good.
- Full Sail Imperial Stout. The white board said this was from 1997. 1997! I don't know if that's true, but it was an amazing beer either way. (Sally and I got married in '97, so let's just pretend that was the vintage, what say?)
Did you go? What'd you like?
Also: Matt S, John H, Bill S, Matt W, John F, Van H, Bill C, Lisa M, Dave S, Jason W, Angelo, Margaret, Ezra and anyone else I missed--great to see you all.
Update. John Harris emails to confirm that the Full Sail Imperial Stout was indeed a 1997 keg. A man not given to hyperbole, he described the beer as "beautiful, if you ask me." Agreed.