North American Organic Brewers Festival (NAOBF) 2012!!!!

Happy Independence Day America!!

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Compostable tasting cup and Beer West magazine
Thank you Matt Costa for the photo

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Me ticking off my beers!
Thank you Matt Costa for the photo

Organic.  It’s a pretty popular buzzword in relation to just about everything you may consume these days, and of course that includes beer.  This past weekend was the 7th annual North American Organic Brewers Festival (NAOBF) held at Overlook Park in North Portland.  The NAOBF was established in 2005 by Craig Nicholls, who also started the now defunct Roots Organic Brewing Co.  Organic beer is super popular, with numerous local breweries going organic, like Hopworks, Laurelwood and Fish Brewing Company, to name a few.  The point of this organic brewfest was to educate people about sustainable living.  The plastic Solo-like cup used for beer tasting was a compostable cornstarch cup “made from domestically grown corn by a zero-waste, solar-powered company” (from the program).  That’s all great and dandy, but I would much rather have spent $6 on a commemorative glass or mug that I could keep.  Then I wouldn’t be throwing anything away.  Also, If you brought three cans of food, showed your MAX ticket or road your bike to the festival you received $1 off the price of the cup or got an additional token.

Unfortunately, this past weekend wasn’t nice, weather wise, so when Matt and I got there on Sunday around noon, not many people were in attendance.  After a few hours it did get busier though.  There were food vendors (all using compostable materials), retail vendors (all using energy from biodiesel and solar generators), and bands playing on a stage opposite tables sheltered by tents.

Now, the beer itself, wasn’t bad, but there were only a handful I really liked.  Beers that got perfect five-star ratings include:

-Captured by Porches Brewing Co., St. Helens OR – Bavarian Hefeweizen

-Elliot Bay Brewing, Burien, WA – Organic Olde Burien 600 Malt Liquor

-McMenamins Old Church Brewery, Wilsonville, OR – Dark Night Organic Dunkelweizen

-Ukiah Brewing, Ukiah, CA – Navarro Yarrow, herbal beer

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A band playing at the brewfest
Thank you Matt Costa for the photo

There were several beers that were already tapped out.  I understand, we were there on the last day of the festival, but really?  How do you run out?  One beer that was out – Bison Brewery’s Organic Honey Basil – was the most popular beer last year!  Why weren’t you prepared?  Another complaint I had was why weren’t the brewers served next to each other?  Pretty much each brewery brought at least two beers, but one would be on one end of the brew tents and one would be other the other.  I spent too much time looking for a brewery’s second beer.

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Exit!

All and all, this beer festival is not one of my favorites.  I don’t think organic beer is any better than non-organic beer.  The music was okay, but not great.  And there was this air of stuffiness about the festival; this was not a brewfest to drink and enjoy beer, it was a brewfest to be environmentally correct.  As much as I’d like to skip NAOBF next year, I probably won’t :-).

Cheers!