Notes from NAOBF

Today I was invited to a media preview of the North American Organic Brewers Festival. This is a fun festival to kick off the summer drinking good beer in Portland’s Overlook Park. If you’re heading there this weekend, here are my picks from the 18 beers I sampled:

Ambacht Golden Rye Ale — Though located nearby in Hillsboro, Ambacht is a new brewery for me. I liked both of their ales, with this rye standing out for its unique, dry taste.

Bison Belgian-style Scotch Ale — A Scotch ale brewed with Belgian yeasts. Malty with strong roast notes.

Elliot Bay Vanilla Bean Organic Stout — Big vanillla flavor and aroma, yet very well balanced. One of my favorite beers of the day.

Fort George Spruce Ale — Huge spruce nose and taste. Not for everyone, but very interesting beer. I really liked it.

Laurelwood Organic Green Elephant IPA– I thought the name derived from its green aroma, but the true story is more colorful than that. Big, citrusy hops, but very drinkable balanced with sweetness from the malt.

MateVeza Yerba Mate Black Lager — This beer’s many competing flavors didn’t quite come together for me, but it was the most unique beer I tried today. Notes of coffee, not too bitter, with a green taste from the yerba mate.

Santa Cruz People’s Porter — A good coffee porter flavored with Guatemalan coffee.

Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale — Yes, bacon ale. Surprisingly good, with the bacon coming through as a smokiness on the finish. It reminds me of a good bacon-washed bourbon.

Upright Rose City Seven — Someday Upright will release a beer I don’t like. Today is not that day. This is a limited edition of their Seven aged in Pinot Noir Barrels and flavored with hibiscus, rose hips, and rose petals. Fans of sour ales will enjoy this.

Food Cart Bonus — I finally tried Violetta. Their Oregon corn dog with sweet potato fries were just what I needed after a couple hours imbibing.