Friday, July 23, 2010

Beeronomics: The Oregon Brewers Festival

I got back from my little vacation just in time to fulfill my annual obligation to meet up with old Lewis & Clark College buddies at the OBF.  We bumped our little rondez-vous up to Thursday this year as it has gotten so popular that even meeting on Friday at the Noon opening exposes us to uncomfortably large crowds.  Fortunately Thursday is still reasonable and the weather yesterday couldn't have been more delightful.

But this raises the question in my mind (and in the mind of my fellow economics major): why after all these years is the price essentially the same as it ever was - or in real terms even cheaper? Put another way, why don't they double the prices and start to limit the crowds?  This suggestion was met immediately with derision form our humanities major friends who considered the suggestion elitist and just the sort of crap you could expect from economists.  I suspect that the answer is in the objective function of the OBF organizers.  The festival is supposed to be a showpiece for craft beer and the more people they can expose the better.  They want the festival as big as can be.  For those of us who dislike crowds fortunately there is still Thursday, which is reasonable in terms of population.  I shall get nowhere near the festival today or this weekend.

But you should: there are some great beers to be sampled.  I particularly liked Boundary Bay's German Tradition Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale.  It was excellent and the German Tradition hops interesting if a little astringent.  This year's Collaborator Pilsner is a real winner and will be an excellent choice for the weekend which is supposed to get hot.  Green Flash's LeFreak is interesting and great - hoppy Belgian.  FInally for you hop heads look no farther than THE HOPOPOTAMUS inspired Hop Valley Alpha Centuri Binary IPA.  Er, what were those hops again?  Ah yes, Simcoe, Cascade, Amarillo - a coincidence? I think not.  And I have become a huge fan of Kolsch, especially on hot summer days, so if you are looking for a refreshing beer in the 90-something degree heat try the Three Creeks Creekside Kolsch.  You will not be disappointed.

Oh and for the love of all that is good and true: avoid the Three Skulls Hop The Plank IPA, it is horrible.

Sadly THE HOPOPOTAMUS was not invited, but based on the AGs recent interpretation of the homebrew law, the OLCC would have banned its consumption anyway.

Anyway, go, have fun and explore good beers.  One obvious trend that mimics the local scene is the rise of Belgian styles, so this is a great opportunity to get to know those as well as the traditional hop forward styles we Northwesterners love.

Oh and check out all of the banners flying in the tents.  These things are getting seriously old now and there are as many defunct breweries represented as thriving ones.  Which just goes to my point about the inherently turbulent nature of the business.


Colin NĂ©ber Wilson said...

I drowned several taste tickets on that Hop Valley IPA at the recent Rogue brewfest/dogfest. The hop notes are incredible! It's easily the favorite beer I had there.

Patrick Emerson said...

The Hop Valley Alpha Centauri was pretty great, but a serious hop bomb. I was trying to save the palate as long as I could but once you have that...boom!...all subtlety is lost.