a new favorite

19 Aug

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this was our first year attending the IIPA Fest at Saraveza. our perception was that it would be crowded and crazy given the small space and the hyper-hop beer culture around here. i expected the usual suspects plus a handful of douchey “gotta be seen there” types. i also wondered if we would find a whole bunch of overdone, over-thought beers that you couldn’t enjoy a full pour of. but it was michael’s birthday. and he has a fondness for well-crafted IIPAs and hops that smack ya in the face. so…what the hell!!

and?…we were pleasantly surprised.

  1. photo 2special beers: brewed just for the event. why don’t more brewfests do this? my favorites do. hence i am adding this fest to the list of the best. i’ve had “Pliny” “Ace of Spades” and “120 Minute” plenty of times. nothing against them but if i am going to enjoy it, i might as well be chillin at the Horse Brass rather than amidst the chaos of a beer festival. i’m there to try one-offs and special batches, like “Dopeacetic,” the official beer of the festival, because i can’t get them all the time. and i wanna see what cool stuff craft brewers are up to. at least eight beers were made just for this festival. add on to that the non-signature IIPA from many other breweries, and you had a seriously good fest.

  2. good selection: obviously there was a good mix of standard and special batches of IIPAs to satisfy the IIPA newbie and those of us that have been around the block a few times. i prefer beer veteran, not beer slut, thank you very much. on top of that, there was a good mix of oregon IIPAS, west coast IIPAs, and IIPAs from elsewhere. this was nice in case you wanted to drink hometown heroes or if you were looking for more variety. i was also happy with the mix of what i was tasting. although all IIPAs, there were definitely ones that were sweet and resinous, some carrying a lot more citrus, a mix of heavy and sweet, bitter batches, and lighter, very drinkable options. this had nothing to do with how the fest was organized. simply a lucky draw on the various whims of the brewers. but it worked out well for the fest.

  3. glasses: we got nice glasses to drink out of. not plastic. not teeny tasters i will never use. but a solid, handful of glass that will fit nicely in my collection of glasses. when will the holiday ale festival catch on? i heard even the Oregon Brewer’s Festival had glass this year! it’s also worth mentioning that they had staff – real bartenders – pouring, which made a difference in getting a good, proper pour each time. not that i’m suggesting the large beer festivals could offer this, they can’t, but this is an advantage to this particular festival.

  4. photo 1size and venue: still seem to work with the size of the crowd. in part, maybe it is still flying under the radar. or maybe a lot of people were hesitant and didn’t go for the same reasons we were. or maybe its because the beers are so big you really can’t stay that long if you want to remain conscious. or maybe its because they didn’t have an overwhelming amount of taps – plenty for a good selection but not so long you couldn’t decide where to even start.

    i don’t know, but we got there about a half hour after it started and found plenty of tables and about two dozen regular ol’ beer lovers just like us. well, maybe not just like us. i guess we have to put our nerdy, note-taking bloggety selves in a different category now. but the crowd was chill and although there were quite a bit more people by the time we left around 3:30 it still wasn’t packed or time consuming to get a taste. a nice bottle shop with lots of kitschy beer decor and well executed BLTs with double the bacon made for an all over great location for the event.

looks like someone enjoyed their birthday!

looks like someone enjoyed their birthday!

on a whole, we had a great time and we plan on checking it out again in the future. the beers were great but there were definitely some standouts that you should try to check out if you ever see them on tap at Saraveza or somewhere else.

Barley Browns Forklift: delicious. all citrus and pine. bitter finish. perfect malt body. sits on your tongue. just what you want in a IIPA.

Block 15 Simcoe Rocketed Sticky Hands: phenomenal nose. super smooth. light lemon citrus. not a lot of bitter. just enough malt. this is what i had hoped for in the original sticky hands. i went back for seconds on this one since it was brewed just for the event and may never see again.

De Garde Houblon Red: wild. very unique. planty, vegetal. i get a hint of basil. given it is wild, this is a very good IPA.  hop is strong enough. sour is subtle. little thinner than other offerings at the fest.

photo 3Elysian Dicks Picks Konishiki: super tropical, banana, pineapple. very complex. most different from the rest at the fest. fruity. not as heavy, but not underweight. creamy, but not buttery, more like a nut fat mouthfeel. top notch. everyone at our table and the table next to us went back for seconds of this one.

Double Mountain Poseur Triple Pale Ale: tropical, stone fruit, apricot, pear notes. finishes dry, quite a bit drier than any of the other beers. nice change. almost like a cider.

Gigantic Xtra Hopped Whole in the Head Firkin: melon and citrus aromas. flat english style. sticky but super smooth. very resinous but without carbon bite. this isn’t always my favorite style, but this was excellent.

that’s it. til next year! hope to see you there.

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One Response to “a new favorite”

  1. Samurai Artist September 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM #

    nice post, I attended this year for the first time and was also pleasantly surprised. To answer your question why more tests don’t have special beers brewed for them is because if anyone could ask for a special beer brewed for them then that is all brewers would be doing. Not to mention a small event like this one is only purchasing 1 keg, so what are they going to do with the other 30 or more kegs? Regarding the Holiday Ale Fest not having glass, it’s because of the location on brick, can you imagine how much broken glass would be all over Pioneer Courthouse Square?

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