NAOBF 2009 Preview

North American Organic Beer Fest officially started yesterday, but I haven’t seen much in the way of reviews from other local beer bloggers. Perhaps, like me, they’re waiting until today to get down to Overlook Park.


This is year three for the festival, which has quickly secured a place in my heart. There are a lot of beer festivals in Portland, particularly in June-July, and each has its merits. NAOBF is outdoors in a spacious local park, with easy access to transportation (there’s a Yellow MAX stop across the street from entrance). Kids are welcome, a surprisingly unique feature at most festivals (WTF, Zoo Brew?), and one I am newly appreciative of. There’s a stage with what I’d broadly call live “semipro” music. None of he bands I’ve seen have been remarkable, but they are a nice complement to the festival’s relaxed vibe. There’s usually an eclectic food cart area, too … everything from falafel to African food. In short, it’s the kind of beer festival that could only happen in Portland.

There are more interesting beers on tap this year than last, so I’ve had to compile a shortlist.

  • Captured By Porches: Invasive Species IPA. This brewery started in the Clinton Street theater, and I haven’t tried an IPA from them yet. Should be interesting, as I hear this brewery steel bootstraps with the best of them.
  • Bison Brewing: Honey Basil Ale. I’ve long considered making a Rosemary IPA, so I’m curious to see how basil works in beer. Thai basil might be a nice variant.
  • Eel River: Acai Berry Wheat. I know nothing about this apparent health craze, but if you put vitamins in beer, I’ll likely take them.
  • Elliot Bay: Hop von Boorian, a Belgian IPA. Love the Belgian IPAs.
  • Fort George: Spruce Ale. This ale was brewed with fresh spruce tips gathered by brewery staff in the manner of Lewis & Clark. Can’t wait to try it, as I really, really like these guys. Check out our video interview and you’ll see why.
  • MateVeza: Yerba Mate IPA. I bought a bottle of their better-known Yerba Mate Pale awhile back, but a friend drank it before I could. Maybe it was fate telling me to try a hoppier version.
  • Nelson Brewing: Paddywhack & After Dark. File these under “maybe.” I enjoyed my trip to Vancouver, B.C. last year, but the beer wasn’t very impressive, and each bottle I brought back has held down my low opinion of the beer quality in our Northern cousin.
  • Oakshire: Watershed IPA. Don’t know much about this brewery, but I’ll try almost anything once.
  • Roots Gruit/Rotating Tap. I really hope the rumors about Roots closing aren’t true. I hope to get a taste of the medieval style of fruit beer and the answer to that question if I see Craig Nichols, Roots’ co-owner.
  • Sam Smith: Cherry Ale. Also in the “maybe” column. As in, “maybe one of my friends will try it and save me two tickets.” Saw this at QFC the other day and was tempted, but I fear it may be a sugar bomb.
  • Standing Stone: Double IPA. Hard to go wrong with this one. See our video interview with the brewer here.
  • Upright: Reggae Junkie Gruit & Seven. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I may be the last beer geek in Portland to try Alex Ganum’s newest incarnation. Open-fermentated beer!
  • Widmer: Teaser XPA. Call this a bonus. I’m generally a fan of Widmer’s more experimental efforts.

The Weather Channel’s predicting a high of 84 today, which sounds like perfect beer drinking weather to me. Hope to see you there!

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