Oregon events

Das Oktoberfest

I had a great weekend! It started Friday night with “Horrible Bosses” at home with a glass of wine and some homemade pizza (it was a great movie), a really, really good run (I did 4.5 miles before I even noticed how far I’d gone!) on Saturday morning, shopping at the outlet malls (and getting mega deals everywhere–Romy was 60% off!) and then an afternoon spent at the Mount Angel Oktoberfest.

Mount Angel is down between Woodburn (where the outlet mall is) and Silverton where Silver Falls Park is (a great place to camp and hike, with lots of waterfalls and beautiful trails). It’s about a 45 minute drive south of Portland. Mount Angel was settled by German pioneers int he 1800’s and built this little town to look just like their homeland. It reminds me of Leavenworth, Washington–another Bavarian town.

I’ve lived in Oregon for 12 years or so and have never been to Oktoberfest. I knew it was popular, but had no idea just how popular. The festival brings 350,000 people there! It definitely felt that way, too. Driving through the small town to find parking was a clusterf***! Eventually we gave up and paid the $4 to park in a lot to just get it over with.

It was slow moving through the crowds but it was a fun experience. It was a hot, hot day, 90 degrees and I was dying for something cold to drink. We stopped at the first Warsteiner biergarten we found and Michael got the Dunkel. It was a brown beer, with a hint of coffee but not a really heavy beer like some of the dark IPAs or porters.

If you weren’t a fan of German beer, never fear: you could get Jagermeister. They had it on tap!

Michael and I shared the beer. Oktoberfest was a lot different than Brewfest. I thought it was the token for a taste system, but it wasn’t. It was a $5 for a glass system. Which was fine, but I rather like the tasting system better. Sometimes it’s hard for me to commit to a beer and I just want a taste, not the whole thing.

After the Dunkel was gone, we set off in search of dinner. We ended up going to a bratwurst booth that also turned out to be the best one there according to some friends.

I got the traditional bratwurst with sauerkraut, caramelized onions and sweet spicy mustard. The picture did not turn out, sadly. Michael got the spicy chicken bratwurst–the Fricadelwurst. We split an order of the curly fries but neither of us liked them very much so we threw away half of it. My brat was great!

We split another beer, Warsteiner Oktoberfest, which was like an amber but dark in color like the Dunkel. It was nice, without the Dunkel coffee flavor. I was liking our system of sharing the beers. After dinner we continued on through the festival. We walked around and saw the arts and craft booths:

I happily bought some green olives stuffed with garlic and jalapenos. Then we walked by the kid’s dancing to the Bavarian brass band.

Dang! I forgot my lederhosen at home! LOTS of people were in costume! It was cool. How cute are these two?

We ended up at another biergarten that was standing room only. It was a huge building and everyone was enjoying their beers and listening to the band play. It was a German band playing Elvis songs! With an accordion! It was actually kind of awesome.

We stayed for Viva Las Vegas and then headed back out into the crowd.

In the town square, one of the coolest things happened every hour: the Glockenspiel! The huge clock with pretty big figurines would chime each hour. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch it and listen to the music.

It was pretty enchanting to watch. We stayed and watched as the figurines moved and the music played, and then went to our last stop:

We shared one more beer. This time, it was a hefeweizen. Widmer was one of the sponsors at the fest. While hefeweizen isn’t my first choice for a beer, it’s very palatable and actually quite nice on a really hot day.

All in all, I had a great day and got to explore a part of Oregon I hadn’t really been to before. I am glad we made it to Oktoberfest and I’d happily go again next year…just maybe on  Thursday rather than a Saturday. 🙂

Someday I hope to make it to the real Oktoberfest. I bet that’s a blast! Michael and shared three delicious beers together, ate some great food and while we sadly passed up on an onion blossom that looked absolutely epic, I left feeling pretty good. I didn’t go over my calories for the day at all.

Michael and I went home and ended the day with a movie.

QUESTION: Do you have an Oktoberfest in your town? Have you been?

Once a Year…

…once a year I indulge. This is the epitome of my 90/10 Rule. Moderation, moderation, splurge once in awhile. The last weekend of July is the Oregon Brewfest. I started going a few years ago, after meeting Michael, and it’s a great time. Beer tasting is my splurge. And I want the good stuff! Not this:

This year, I took a half day off work so I could meet up with my friends at the Brewfest. I rode my bike to work that morning but luckily I could leave my stuff in my cubicle and just walk down to the waterfront.

I took a detour that added a few miles to my commute and a few more calories to my workout:

My total mileage for the week: 62.42. Still nowhere close to 100. Oh well. It was still a good week of biking. So after work, I walked down to meet all my friends that were partaking in Brewfest. We started going on Thursdays a few years ago because Fridays were insanely crowded; so crowded you couldn’t really move around through the tents and some of the breweries even ran out of beer!

It seems as though everyone else got the memo that Thursdays were the better day to go because it was packed this year. And it started early. I got off work and got to the waterfront about 1 and the lines were already forming. I met up with my friend Robyn and her mom (who is a total firecracker!) and some friends and eventually Michael met up with us with his group of friends.

Usually I want to eat lunch right away but I got sucked into hanging out with friends and sampling beers and before I knew it, I was feeling tipsy and realized I hadn’t eaten anything in hours! I wandered around a bit and ended up with a Sambusa at the African food cart. It was a little pastry filled with things like lentils and chicken, veggies and African spices. It was absolutely delicious! I dipped it in the sweet cucumber sauce (I totally want to find a recipe to make this at home). It was a great lunch.

In the past, I approached the Brewfest as a way to discover new beers I liked and I sampled everything I could. (1 token is $1 or so,a full mug is 4 tokens but I rarely ever get a full mug). This year? I didn’t really do that. Maybe I’m getting old or maybe I just know what I like. But I skipped the beers I knew I probably wouldn’t enjoy and stuck to the IPA style beers at each trailer.

Let’s start with the beers I did NOT like. Cascade Brewery Razberry Wheat –it’s there every year and every year I try it and still don’t like it, when will I learn? Old Market Pub and Brewery Cherried Alive–a cross between too sweet and too sour. Paradise Creek Brewery Dirty Blonde–I just don’t like the taste of blondes or lighter beers, which brings me to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Kili Wit–YUCK! I’ve mentioned many times that I LOVE Ninkasi Beer (Tricerahops and Total Domination are my favorite beers right now) but the Lady of Avalon they brought to the brewfest was a disgusting, dark, hoppy, malty, coffee thing that I took one taste of and passed on to my friend Robyn!

Sometimes the best part about brewfest is the people watching and not necessarily the beer. There were a lot of people in costumes, half of which I didn’t really understand. I wish I had gotten more pictures of the people because it was entertaining. For example: there were some Franciscan monks, many, many men in lederhosen and short shorts a la The Sound of Music. There was a guy dressed up in a white NASA space suit wearing a Planet of the Apes-type mask…pretty much anything you can think of was there.

Now the good stuff…Here are a few beers that I enjoyed:

Red Rock Brewing – Red Rock Elephino Double IPA: I could enjoy a full mug of this, but maybe not two. It was good but not especially memorable.

Dunedin Brewery – IPA Chronicle: FL-Oregon Trail: A little sweeter than I’m used to, but I liked it.

Hale’s Ales Brewery – Supergoose IPA: It’s a nice floral, fruity IPA.

Kona Brewing – Big Wave Golden Ale: for a blonde ale, it was really good. I had this when I first got to the event and it was a nice, mild, smooth beer to start the afternoon with.

The Winners:

Flying Fish Brewery – Exit 16 Wild Rice IPA: So it sounds weird…beer fermented in rice? But it was my absolute favorite of the day. I loved the super, super hoppy flavor and the crisp citrus taste that teased my tongue. This one I could have had a full mug of!

Terminal Gravity Brewing – X IPA: This was my second favorite beer. It was an amber colored beer, not too dark of an IPA, and very pleasant to drink. The hops weren’t outrageous.

Omission Brewing – Pale Ale: I had no idea this was a Widmer beer or gluten-free but I loved it! I wish I had discovered it before the end of the day when I was done drinking.

The day was hot, not as hot as it had been in past years but very warm and we sought out shade as much as possible and tried to stay under the tents when we could, even though the noise level was a cacophony  of everything you could think of. I bought a giant pretzel from the Gustav’s stands and shared it with some friends.

Thankfully the bread soaked up some of my samples and I spent the last hour just catching up with my friends and hanging out. The tents had become to crowded anyways.

Finally, Michael and I decided to call it a night (or afternoon, whatever). Both of us had had our fill and wanted to get home out of the sun. It was a fun day with good food and good beer. It’s a once a year treat that I look forward to and enjoy every time!

QUESTION: Is there any annual event in your town that you don’t miss?