Portland Fruit Beer Festival Beer Preview

This is it! It is the countdown to the Portland Fruit Beer Festival– which kicks off this Saturday, June 6 11am-9pm until the end of Sunday, June 7 11am-6pm. Tickets are already on sale at $20 general admission Saturday or Sunday (the admission includes one 16oz glass you keep and 12 drink tickets). This is an all ages festival.

As I’ve summarized before in my June roundup of Portland events, this unique beer festival features almost 50 fruit beers and ciders, with many beers/ciders have been brewed specifically for the Fruit Beer Festival so this may be your only chance to try them.

Portland Fruit Beer Festival 2014 poster

Well, technically it starts with a special VIP session they are holding on Friday evening, which for $30 (only $10 more than the regular admission on Sat/Sun) from 4-9pm and limited to 300 VIP guests you get access to the fruit beers without everyone else (or less of them, a lot less of them in the way!), and there will also be a few special tappings (4 of the 26 beers are tapped especially for Friday).

The fruits featured are a wide range of fruits: you can see the list here at New School which has descriptions with the beer. There is also another special list of 25 Rare Rotating Tap list of one-off or vintage kegs of just 5 gallons each, and some are listed with the tentative times they will be tapped so you can make your drinking plans now.

Because you do that right? You look over the list of beers for a festival and start noting which ones you want to try, which ones you really really want to try, and then when you attend the festival get in line for the beers in that order to make sure it doesn’t run out and you aren’t disappointed?

And maybe if you have fellow drinking partners, you plan out a drinking strategy so no one is getting 2 of the same beer and you can each wait in different lines and come back and share tastes for most efficient tastings? Right?

I nearly fell out of my chair when I was reading my email and saw I was invited to a media preview of some of the beers that will be tapping at the Portland Fruit Beer Festival by Ezra/Samurai Artist (Ezra Johnson-Greenough), the king of the Portland Fruit Beer Festival. Well, I don’t know if king is the official title, but he does organize the whole thing. He seems to be doing double duty by modeling a PDX Beer Week T shirt also here.
Samurai Artist aka Ezra Johnson-Greenough kicking off the event and already wearing a PDX Beer Week shirt at the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview with sneak peeks of 10 of the beers

I do drink a lot of beer (well of everything- I like to say I don’t discriminate/yearn to be learn and enjoy all deliciousness). Ok, mom, don’t worry, I take that back. I don’t drink a lot, but I have tried a large variety, maybe once twice a week, and maybe Bailey’s Taproom/Upper Lip is like my Cheers.  But I don’t blog much about it, as there are much better beer writers out there, including official media source The Beer Here at the Oregonian and  already mentioned The New School (which are my main sources for beer news) and then for more personal stories of beer rather then just event announcement I often read Beer Musings from Portland by Kris (who also sometimes writes for Oregon Beer Growler).

I was shocked that I would try to fit into such beer expert company.

Thankfully, I was able to pull in another contributor to this blogpost… a beer know it all who also works at Deschutes and Bailey’s/UL Ryan Spencer, who also sometimes contributes to Serious Eats and apparently Cicerone. So official beer expert. Thanks so much Ryan for helping me out with this, especially as I already had tickets to see a show that night and had to leave a little early.

As part of the media event, Ezra and some brewers let us taste 10 of the beers that would be at the Portland Fruit Beer Festival. It felt to me like a secret meeting as we stood around in the back of Burnside Brewing drinking out of plastic cups as the beers were poured from growlers. Each brewer talked a little about the beer and maybe the inspiration for it while inevitably shuffling their feet or other nervous tics which made for terrible pics so I eventually gave up. But I got a few pics of the first few brewers, heh! There was no place to set the cup down (except for the floor) in this secret beer meeting so I don’t have any pics of the beer, except in the brewer’s hand.
Bryan Keilty from Lompoc Brewing explains Lompoc Brewing's Pear'n Kramer sourced their pears for this brew from the backyard of someone's mom! Burnside Brewing Nero's Fiddle uses a proprietary blend of apples, one of them being a Roman Beauty that inspired the name Nero, at the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview with sneak peeks of 10 of the beers

Some Tasting Notes

So here are our notes of the Portland Fruit Beer Festival Beer Preview tasters we tried, ranking in order of fruit beer love.

  1. Citrus Royale from The Commons Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: American Sour ABV: 5.8% ABV IBU: 11
    A sour spelt based beer with Navel Orange, Murcott Mandarin, Meyer Lemon peel and orange and lime juice. One of the most exciting beers at the preview and one to look out for is The Common’s Citrus Royale. This beer is a variant of The Common’s Biere Royale released last year, but with a variety of citrus fruits rather than currants. While retaining the same base beer and “house” lacto culture acquired from Nancy’s Yogurt as last year, the sourness and fruit character are restrained in comparison; allowing for the base beer to shine through with pleasant citrus undertones. The citrus character is derived from a blend of naval orange, meyer lemon, mercott mandarin juice added throughout fermentation creating a flavor profile reminiscent of a mimosa.
  2. Mayme B from Alameda Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: Belgian Dark Golden 6.6% ABV 45 IBU’s
    The Mayme B is a Belgian Dark Golden bier brewed with Mamey fruit (Pouteria sapota). This tropical fruit native to the Caribbean and Central America has a flavor which could be described as a mix of sweet potato and pumpkin topped off with maraschino cherry and almond twist… or at least that’s what the brewer said. I didn’t detect the cherry, but the sweet potato, pumpkin, and hint of almond I was able to detect, and it gave it a bit of “chewiness” that I really liked. Meanwhile the rest of us were just like “what… what is this fruit?” And he’s like “It’s like a football but like a papaya” and probably formed his hands to make a football shape three times. Apparently he discovered this fruit while on his honeymoon in Mexico, but he was able to source the fruit from Florida, but I don’t think he’ll be doing a lot more of these so get it while it lasts! The 100 pounds of mamey was added post boil in the kettle and also post fermentation, along with Belgian Pilsner malt, Special B, and the Belgian yeast (he apparently really like this yeast, as it’s the 3rd beer he’s brewed with it). For a fruit beer, this was completely unexpected and unique which is why I gave it bonus points for originality and creativity as well as the taste.
    The size of a Mamey fruit as described by the Alameda brewer at the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview
  3. Peach Slap, from Deschutes Brewery – Portland, OR
    Style: Sour Ale with Peaches ABV: 3.2% IBU: 22
    Peach Slap is a crisp light Belgian ale that starts light, gets a little complexity with his love of gin gimlets and so he added a floral quality with the addition of juniper berries and peppercorn. And then, along with peach puree, there’s the surprise heat thanks to peach habanero syrup. The base beer is light but bubbly and sweet like drinking a sparkling berlinerweisse so is super tasty. This is also a top pick for me and is sure to be a crowd pleaser, though some might complain it leans more towards soda than beer (in fact, before the peach habanero the brewer worried it was like liquid fruit roll up but with the syrup at least it was more like soda), but that wouldn’t be me, and then I’ll just drink your glass for you, thanks.
    Telling us about his love/inspiration of gin gimlets and the use of peach habanero syrup in the Deschutes Brewery Peach Slap Sour Ale with Peaches, at the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview with sneak peeks of 10 of the beers
    Telling us about his love/inspiration of gin gimlets and the use of peach habanero syrup in the Deschutes Brewery Peach Slap Sour Ale with Peaches
  4. Aren’t You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana? from Laurelwood Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: Citrus Wheat Ale ABV: 4.4 IBU:14
    Another beer to look out for at the festival will be Laurelwood’s Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana. Drawing inspiration from both Laurelwood’s year round hefeweizen and Brewmasters Vasili Glestsos’s son’s love of knock-knock jokes, this beer is another citrus bomb that emphasizes pithy/rind flavors rather than juice. Laurelwood added 12 gallons of juice and over 6lbs of citrus zest from a myriad of fruits including oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. The fruit flavor is supported by a prominent wheat character derived from the same base beer used to make laurelwood’s hefeweizen, the only difference being the fruit addition and the use of wit yeast versus hefe yeast.
  5. Boysen The Hood from Gigantic Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: Golden Tart Boysen Belgian ABV: 6.4 IBU: 19
    This year Gigantic Brewing was one of a few breweries smart enough to brew a beer which met the requirements for both Cheers to Belgian Beers and The Fruit Beer Fest. Boysen The Hood is a basic Belgian golden ale brewed with pilsner and wheat malts. However, this beer deviates from the norm in that it was kettle soured for 24 hours and then aged on fresh Oregon boysenberries. The result is an easy drinking light Belgian ale with notes of blackberries and strawberries reminiscent of a Berliner weisse.
  6. Lacerta Frambuesa from Ecliptic Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: Belgian Framboise ABV: 6.5 IBU: 20
    Lacerta is the lizard constellation, as brewer John Harris has a constellation theme going. He was also quick to note this is not a framboise, it’s a frambuesa. So pay attention and get it right! The base beer is a light ale made in the Aztec style then infused with Cocoa Nibs in the mash and at fermentation 100 pounds of raspberries were added.The Cocoa nibs definitely add an unusual additional flavor. Although this beer will debut at the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, John made enough that we may see it at his brewery sometime after.

    Brewer John Harris of Ecliptic explaining this is not a framboise, it is a frambuesa beer, that he brewed 
  7. Up From San Antone from Widmer Brothers/5 Stones Artisan Brewery – Portland, OR + Cibolo, Texas
    Style: Grapefruit White IPA ABV: 6.6% IBU: 55
    The Widmer/5 Stones collaboration beer is the second beer in a series of collaboration beers Widmer plans to release throughout the year. This collaboration is with 5 Stones, a small brewery in Texas that specializes in brewing with fresh produce and non-traditional ingredients. Named after a line in the song “Amarillo by Morning,” the name is a nod to the location of 5 Stones and the usage of Amarillo hops. Up From San Antone is a combination of a classic NW White IPA and Belgian Wit, similar in style to Deschutes Chain breaker White IPA. Widmer juiced and zested over 100 lbs of fresh grapefruit with coriander to impart a strong grapefruit character that comes across more bitter and pithy as opposed to juicy, both emphasizing the bitterness of the fruit and hops.
    Widmer Brewers chatting about Up From San Antone, their Grapefruit White IPA at the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview with sneak peeks of 10 of the beers
    Widmer Brewers chatting about Up From San Antone, their Grapefruit White IPA at the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview with sneak peeks of 10 of the beers. Also, of the brewers that actually wore the brewery shirts to as to be easily identified, they have the nicest ones. This kind of insightful coverage clearly differentiates me from other beer blog coverage.
  8. Pi Beer from Fort George Brewery – Astoria, OR
    Style: Fruit Wheat Beer ABV: 5% IBU: 3.141592653358979323846264338372950288419716939937510
    For Fort George’s PFBF entry this year the brewery took a traditional approach to fruit beers with a low alcohol wheat beer and the addition of strawberries and rhubarb. Named after the beers low IBU value of 3.14, Pi Beer has a big strawberry aroma with a hint of tannic acidity from the rhubarb. The fruit aroma however falls short in the flavor of the beer letting the wheat character shine through. Where Fort George succeeds is in Pi Beer’s drinkability making it a refreshing beer on a hot day.
  9. Nero’s Fiddle from Burnside Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: Graff ABV: 7.0%
    Burnside Brewing and EZ Orchards Cidre collaborated to blend a whole bunch of apples- including Roman Beauty, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples, the Roman Beauty being what inspired the name Nero. The apples were slightly fermented per French Style cider and whirlpooled directly into the kettle.
  10. Pear’n Kramer from Lompoc Brewing – Portland, OR
    Style: Golden Ale ABV: 5%
    Description: The origin of these pears is a story of friendship- they came from the backyard in Salem, and were hand picked by the brewers and bartenders of Lompoc themselves last summer. In fact, the Kramer name comes from the name of the mother whose backyard they relieved of those 40 pounds of pears. I guess you can say the type of pear used in this beer is “Backyard Pear”. This beer fermented in stainless stell with those pears which were just quartered so skin and all for 5 months before being transferred to another stainless steel tank for conditioning where it was inoculated with a touch of gueuze. There is something a little local farmstead beer about this beer which is charming.

This wasn’t available to taste, but Abe (Abram Goldman-Armstrong) gave us a little drinking break as he talked about Cider Riot and their contribution to the Portland Fruit Beer Fest. It is one of the rare taps to be opened on Saturday afternoon and made especially for the festival. Inspired by Michael Jackson the beer writer who would sometimes use this descriptor, this cider called Hedgerow Fruits uses dessert apples then blended with black currants and black prunes.
Abe (Abram Goldman-Armstrong) describes how Cider Riot's contribution of the Hedgerow Fruits fruit cider (apples AND black currants and prunes) was inspired by beer writer Michael Jackson. At the Portland Fruit Beer Fest Media Preview with sneak peeks of 10 of the beers

The Fruit Beer Festival, as before, will be held Burnside Brewing. Burnside Brewing will be open and you can also get food via Pulehu Pizza with their grilled pizzas, as well as Bunk Sandwiches.

Attending Beer Festival Tips

  1. The earlier you arrive at the festival the better so as to not have as many lines and in case certain beers run out for the day. I almost always arrive at the beginning and so can be gone in a few hours unless I’m waiting for rare beers to rotate in.
  2. Keep in mind you don’t have to pay admission both days- you just need to bring back your glass from the Saturday and buy extra drink tickets as needed.
  3. My recommendation is to scope out what beers you want- particularly for the rare beers, if it says which day it is being tapped you may want to plan for that day. As I noted earlier, rank which ones you really want to try and try to get those first.
  4. Keep in mind to have a little bit of water with you in order to cleanse your palate and not get dehydrated.
  5. If you go with friends who aren’t squeamish about sharing, you can taste even more by each person calling what they are going to go get and you mark it off the list! If there are ones you particularly want you can always get a second one on your own!


WHAT: Portland Fruit Beer Festival

WHEN: Saturday, June 6 11 am-9 pm until the end of Sunday, June 7 11 am-6 pm

WHERE: Burnside Brewing at 701 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

TICKETS: On sale at $20 general admission. You can also buy admission at the door. The admission includes one 16 oz glass you keep and 12 drink tickets.




  1. Thanks for the mention! Also great seeing you at the preview. Perhaps I’ll see you at the festival (I plan to be there when the gates open Saturday).

  2. ah how was this? I had planned to go, but then other things got in the way.

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