Last night I attended my second Fred Fest and checked out the new Hair of the Dog brewery and tasting room for the first time. The fest was a lot of fun, and being able to check out the new space was an extra bonus.
I got down to the brewery a bit early to secure a good spot in line, and was glad that I did. The line got pretty long by the time the doors opened, and I was already on my second glass of beer when my friend finally made it in from further back in the line.
After I got my glass and raffle tickets, I made my way over to the bar for a pour of Cherry Fred from the Wood. A delicious beer! While this fresh, the cherries were very dominant, but I could see the fruit mellowing out a bit with additional aging to really let the Fred come back through. Still, even with the overbearing cherry presence, this was delicious, and it had me thinking about the last time I enjoyed a Cherry Adam (one of my favorites!). I'm really not sure which I prefer, but I felt like the Fred was a bit more drinkable. I could easy finish a 12 oz pour on my own, where I feel the Cherry Adam is best split with a friend or two. From the Cherry Fred, I joined the line in the back of the brewery for a pour of the Wild Duck Old Gnarley Head 2003 barley wine. I think this was a very nice beer, which mellowed out and softened up well with the age. It was a bit oxidized and had some metallic qualities, but it was very enjoyable none-the-less. Two more barley wines followed. First, barrel aged son of old yeller, and then a 1998 full sail old boardhead. The son of old yeller was as delicious and caramelly as I remembered from the barley wine and big beer festival, but for me the 1998 old boardhead really stole the show out of the first four barley wines I sampled. I'd also go as far as saying it was one of my favorites all night. Over the course of the rest of the evening, I tried several more beers:
- barley brown's - cherry wood-smoked rye whiskey. This one I really liked. I heard a lot of people complain that it was a bit TOO smokey, but I'd drink bacon if I could, so it was right up my alley.
- Bend Brewing's - Rocksy Stein Lager. Not as smokey and sweet as I would have expected from the description, but maybe that's just because I let this one follow the Barley Brown's.
- Bridgeport - Fallen Friar 2008. Meh.
- Cascade - The Vine 2010. Delicious. I actually had this one twice over the course of the night to help cut through the sticky malt coating that had developed in my mouth from all the barley wines. This was also one of my favorites of the night. Really nicely soured, and the white wine grape juice added a really nice refreshing clean and lightly sweet finish that kept me wanting to go back for more. I had to restrain myself to make sure everyone else had a chance or two to get a taste.
- Deschutes - Wood aged double black. I thought this one was overly sweet, lost a lot of the flavor I love black butte for, and was my least favorite of the imperial black butte varieties I've had the chance to try.
- Firestone Walker - Parabola. I followed my wood aged double black with this one and thought it was clearly superior. The nice roasty bitter finish really stood out and made this a more enjoyable brew. I thought even this fresh, that the alcohol was masked reasonably well, but I think this is one that would be a lot better with more time on it. I look forward to the bottle release later this month.
- Oregon Trail - SoboChePo. This one was really interesting and I enjoyed it a lot. The first thing I could think of when I tried it was the bells/de proef van twee - in that this is what I had hoped that one would have tasted like. I still have some van twee, which I haven't tried since last PIB, I'm optimistic that the flavors will have developed a bit since then.
- Rogue - John John Juniper. Meh.
- Roots - Epic Ale 2006. This is the third variety of Epic I've had over the last couple of months. I started with an 08 around the holidays, then at the barley wine and big beer fest I had the three year blend dubbed Epic Surprise, and now I had the unblended 06. This was another great one. It left me wondering though where some of the flavors I detected in the Epic Surprise came from. The 2006 tasted a lot like a mellowed 08 to me, and I didn't pick up any of the stouty/chocolaty flavors I noticed in the blend. Must have been a different year.
While all the great brews were the highlight of the day for me, there was a lot more going on that I really enjoyed. Getting to check out the new brewery was great. I think this place has the potential to be the best new brew pub in the city. The first thing I noticed was that the "tasting room" is huge compared to my expectations for it. This place isn't going to just be a couple of stools surrounded by stacks of barrels; it's the size of a large bar or restaurant. Although the late afternoon sun was blinding through the west facing windows, the tasting room had a surprisingly good view of downtown. As the sun set, the city lights brightened in the darkened sky. This will be a great view to enjoy with some dinner and beer. With so much work left to be done, it's still hard to really figure out what the finished plans for the space will include, and I don't want to speculate too much, but the space is beautiful and has a lot of potential, and if they can craft the space as well as they can craft a beer, it's sure to be a hit.
I finished the night off by winning a prize in the auction. I handed over my ticket and ended up with a Kwak glass and stand from Belgium, which will make a great addition to my collection of breweriana. Ironically, my winning ticket was the free one that was included with admission. The handful I paid extra for ended up being duds!
Anyway, I can't imagine a more enjoyable way to give to charity. Fred Fest is always one of my favorite days all year.