Simple Hedonisms Visits Oregon and pioneers Beer Spitting, plus IPNC Coverage #OBF

It’s a crazy five days this Wednesday-Sunday for Simple Hedonisms as I traipse through Portland, Willamette Valley, Russian River, and Carneros in a span of 4 days. Whew!

Lately I have been taking a bit more time to enjoy and network with my ‘second’ city.  I travel to regularly to Portland Oregon for work, and keep a flat just outside the city. I am also a big fan of the nearby Willamette Valley wine region. My heart belongs to Sonoma, but I have had a soft spot for Portland and Willamette for many years, and have come here regularly for work and play.

It’s a shame how many people in the Bay area have not visited, these two, close by weekend jaunts.

Portland for me personally, in some capacities rivals San Francisco, and I love the small ‘big city’ feel. Dining is world class, hedonistic, and more affordable. Friendly, enthusiastic service and passion abounds here.

Willamette Valley is a home to many passionate producers of terroir driven Pinot Noirs, as well as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and a re-emerging Burgundian Chardonnay approach, as the AVA replants more appropriate chardonnay rootstock.

I am attending two events this week in the area: The Oregons Brewers Festival and the International Pinot Noir Festival, aka IPNC.

Oregon Brewer’s Festival

The Oregon Brewers Festival has become a personal tradition. I have attended for 5+ years, and take a local group of clients, now friends, all of them microbrew diehards, to the event each year. Even when I left the country and moved to Baja Mexico for a year to recharge, I came back to this event, always held the last full weekend of July each year. (I am also a decent home brewer.)

Portland considers itself  THE microbrew mecca of the U.S., and this is it’s crown jewel. A multitude of events occur all week, with 70 thousand people usually from almost all 50 states flying in. (Note to you newbies, reserve cars, hotels, months in advance.)

The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s longest running and attended beer festivals. Situated on scenic bank of the Willamette River, with  Mt. Hood as a backdrop, it is the ideal venue for anyone who loves craft beer.  Featuring a  laid back attitude and plethora of award-winning beers, the festival reflects the essence of the city of Portland.

The Oregon Brewers Festival exists to provide an opportunity to sample and learn about a variety of craft beer styles from across the country. Eighty craft breweries from all parts of the nation offer handcrafted brews to 70,000 beer lovers during the four-day event.

The festival’s focus is craft beer, but  also features live music all four days, beer-related vendors, beer memorabilia displays, beer writers and publishers, homebrewing demonstrations, and an assortment of foods from a variety of regions. The weekend is generally filled with families.

Tip:

Serious beer geeks and tasters, get there early Thursday and Friday. By late afternoon, especially Friday, the lines become long and the event transforms from beer geeking to a mass party Downtown comes alive each night as revelers move to other venues.

Spit Cups Come to The Brewers Fest?

Talk to serious pub staff and beer drinkers in Portland, and you hear some of the same words wine geeks use,such as “flavor profile.” It dawned on me, that attending previous big microbrew events, especially the massive Great American Beer Festival in Denver, you can’t get down two of the 20+ aisles, even with 2 oz pours without getting schnockered.

Given that Thursday night I am headed to a pre IPNC event at Anne Amie, my same wine tasting rules apply – simply, I need to spit some of the beer, or just reduce Thursday night to a giant party, not a wine tasting.  It seems for microbrew TASTING, the same tasting principles apply; after a small amount of alcohol, sensory perception is distorted, so why not use this same principle and spit? Doubly so since I love Belgian triples, and other high gravity ales, that often top 7-10% alcohol, and quickly take affect.

I have gotten used to attending weekend wine passport events and getting stares for my spit cup; last week I got razzed by a flight attendant for a Riedel O (stemless glass) I carry; I see no point to not continue to blaze forward and be the only guy carrying around a spit cup! (Maybe others practice this in the beer industry, but I have never seen it at Brewers Fest.)

Festivities start tonight with the sold out S.N.O.B.  (Supporters of Native Oregon Beer) pre-event dinner, and special beers you may not see other days. Thursday opens with a parade and (sold out) brunch. I am attending a media tour/tasting Thursday afternoon, then enjoying some time on the scenic riverfront before taking the bus out to Anne Amie winery for the (also sold out) Counter Culture Pre-IPNC event.

And it Continues

Friday afternoon I am touring a few Willamette wineries, (still picking, feel free to suggest, lobby) and then attending an IPNC tasting and dinner. More on IPNC in a seperate post.

Saturday I jet back to North Sonoma to attend a special winemakers dinner and vineyard tour. (Not allowed to disclose until after.)

Sunday is a mini trip to Spain at the marvelous Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival.

Monday I think I will rest!

I will be actively tweeting tasting notes, and profiles at both events. Hash tag for IPNC is #IPNC2010 (many still using just #IPNC) and for the Oregon Brewers Fest is #OBF. Will tweet and cross post pictures on Facebook, time, battery, and AT&T cell permitting!

Have a great weekend, cheers!

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2 Responses to “Simple Hedonisms Visits Oregon and pioneers Beer Spitting, plus IPNC Coverage #OBF”

  • Man, I would love to attend the Brewer’s Festival sometime, it sounds like a great event. I think you have a wise plan with the spitting. I don’t see how you can really evaluate that many brews without holding back on the drinking a bit.

    Say hello to the Willamette Valley for me, and tell her I miss her. :)

  • Quite the busy weekend you have planned. Have a great time at two fantastic events here in Oregon! Pre-IPNC dinners are always fantastic!!!

    And I completely agree with your assessment on San Francisco vs Portland. That is the primary reason we moved from SF to Portland. The cities were similar in my book, but Portland was much less crowded, more spread out, (and less expensive).

    Cheers

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