Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Portland Spring Beer and Wine Fest Recap!

On April 15, 2017, I received a media tour of the 2017 Portland Spring Beer and Wine Festival. It took place at the Oregon Convention Center.

On this day (the second day of the two-day event), the festivities started at noon. However, coordinator and friend Steven Shomler got me a media pass to go in early.

Wine slush was available. And because it's Portland, the Potlandia Experience van! Fittingly, I post this on 4/20, right?

Skamokawa Farmstead Creamery was first up, with various cheeses and truffles. A great story that pretty much started with rescuing goats and finding someone who could milk the goats. A few years later, their artisan cheeses can be found at Farmers Markets and at Cathlamet Market Fresh. Their chevre was great, but the feta - which I admit to having a bias towards - took the proverbial cake. The lemon truffle was damn good stuff, too.

Our next stop was Effie's Homemade Biscuits, out of Hyde Park, MA. I sampled their corncakes and cocoacakes; very good stuff. I plan to be in the area later this year, but we'll see what my schedule holds. It will already be a crazy, event-filled time, no doubt.

We stopped at the Brewed Oregon booth, where you can get various apparel and accessories. I hear the full zip hoodie is very comfortable.

Buddha Kat Winery has some excellent offerings. Their main spot is in Sandy, but there's a tasting room now in Seaside. Try the rhubarb wine and the Chat Noir blackberry wine. The latter seriously should just go on pancakes. At least I wouldn't be opposed to it.

It was great to see Tyna again from Saucy Minx BBQ Sauces & Rubs. She's based out of Silverton. The Honey Habanero is her spiciest sauce, but still very delicious. I added some Flamin' Fury dry rub to my sample to add a bit more heat.

I can't say I've had mead (fermenting honey) very much, Nectar Creek offers a very good one out of Corvallis. The Cranberry and Strawberry Session Mead was very refreshing.

Wolf Tree Brewery is in Seal Rock, Oregon. Their Spruce Tip Ale is one of their flagship beers. Yes, there's no mistaking the spruce, but you'll also get citrus in there.

Eliot's Adult Nut Butters offers some wonderful, unique flavors. I really enjoyed the Spicy Thai nut butter, which starts like your classic crunchy peanut butter, then opens up with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and cayenne. Big thumbs up as well for the Espresso Nib Peanut Butter, which uses cacao nibs from Theo Chocolate and espresso beans from Happy Cup Coffee.

Boozehound Baked Goods was meant for the adult who is still a kid at heart. There are cupcakes, big ass cookies (literally the name), and boozy brulees. I'm told that the cupcakes won't have the alcohol cooked out. Have fun eating a couple dozen of those cupcakes. Real good stuff here, folks.

Pono Brewing gave me the tastiest IPA of the day, their El Garrote IPA. Very tropical citrus, lovely flavor, very refreshing. At nearly 7% ABV and around 70 IBU, it's right at my sweet spot for an IPA. Their beers are just in Oregon for now.

High Five (noted as ^5) Cider has awesome logos of cartoon animals each giving high fives. Yup, they even had a panda on their banner. The Strawbasaurus Hop cider was refreshing and not too sweet. Lovely strawberry experience.

The Lost Abbey brought their acclaimed Judgment Day Belgian Quadrupel to the festival. Again, I don't dabble too much in beers outside the IPA, but this was a lovely treat. It was 10.5%, but drank much easier and smoother than that. I'm sure many of my friends would enjoy this one.

The Beautiful Pig is located in Longview, and should be your spot for cured meats. They source everything locally. The andouille and salami each get two panda thumbs up.

Since Steven wanted me to have as full a drinking experience as possible, we went back for more wine and hard liquors.

Hood Crest Winery is a recommended stop should you be driving through the Gorge. This business has been going strong for about 25 years. Pair any of their wines with excellent woodfired pizzas! The 2013 Merlot was wonderful, and all I needed was a good pizza.

Vinn Distillery, based in Wilsonville, is a gluten-free establishment specializing in Baijiu, a rice alcohol from China. It's generally around 40% ABV. In addition to baijiu, Vinn Distillery even offers whiskey, vodka, and a blackberry liqueur (which "only" clocked in at 26% ABV). They made the first rice whiskey in the United States. I compared the baijiu to Japanese sake, since they come from the same grain (rice). Like many other vendors at the festival, Vinn Distillery is a family business making their products locally.

Finally, I finished with a wonderful cider from Pear Cup Cider. All pear, no other fruit. I totally recommend this one too.

Before I left, I enjoyed some Basil Pesto pasta from G Gourmet, which appeared to be an Aurora-based food truck. I got bacon added to the pasta because bacon makes everything better. I am unsure if they still operate a food truck or just do catering events now.

Damn good pasta here. And I love pesto. All day, son.

After getting the VIP treatment for the better part of an hour, it's no surprise that I needed a major nap after scarfing down a bowl of pasta.

Fittingly, I did take a Jalapeno caramel to go. Delicious, soft, and awesome.

Again, huge thank you to Steven Shomler for the whirlwind eating and drinking experience, and a huge thank you to all the vendors who showcased their products at the Portland Spring Beer and Wine Festival. I hope to attend again next year!

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