After taking the train down from Vancouver to Portland via Amtrak Cascades, we popped straight to Collabofest. Since we were staying at the Jupiter Hotel for a couple nights, it was a short walk to Base Camp Brewery, the site for the annual collaboration of innovative craft brewers.
Here’s our recap of our visit at Collabofest 2017.
Annually 16 brewers pair up and create special collaborative brews for people to test out at this annual festival. Since Douglas and I both had 8 tickets each, we opted to try at least every single brew once. We arrived after VIP hour, which runs an hour before the start of the festival so people can preview the brews with less of the crowds.
Under the tents outside, we wandered around to each pair of brewers to sample a taster pour with the exchange of tickets. There was a wide variety of craft beers to taste, from ales to sours to stouts.
There’s at least a couple ways attendees can decide which breweries to sample in what order. Either follow the order outlined in the provided tasting note-book or to go from one table to the next. Or like Douglas and I, wander to whichever table had the shortest line-up, and write down notes of what we tasted in our notebook.
We first tried the Space Mountain-themed brews from Mt. Tabor Brewing and Ecliptic Brewing. Mt. Tabor had a sweet fruity IPA and Eclipse had a sour and twisted IPA. First round was a good match in choices as I have the tendency to pick fruity IPAs. Sour beers go hand-in-hand with Douglas’ family tradition to drink pickle juice.
On our second round, we wandered over to the other tent to Occidental and Fat Head’s with their German-style collaborative brews. Fat Head’s had their Smuggling Dunkel aged with plums. I liked Occidental’s “Ding, Ding! I’d like to Dry Hop a Toast” lager with their creamy aftertaste.
Being a very cold winter this year, we wandered in and out from under heating lamps, inside of Base Camp’s taproom and their covered outdoor patio.
For our next round, we checked out the astral malty bill collab between Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) and Ruse Brewing Co. Hub’s “Astral Wavelength” brew was hoppier, and the Ruse’s “Astral Frequency” brew had a salty taste that grew on me over time with every sip. I wonder if that salty taste came from the portion of Kernza, a perennial grain used in a lot of Hopworks beers?
Feeling peckish, we grabbed a couple tacos while sipping on brews from Stormbreaker Brewing Co. and Alameda Brewing Co. Their Homer-themed collaboration was very coffee and donut-inspired with Stormbreaker’s “The Passion of the Homer” and Alamedia’s “Coffee and Donutella”.
There are some flavours that Douglas is not open to trying. I ended up downing the “surf n’ turf” mushroom-themed collaboration brews with Uptown Brewing and Gigantic Brewing. My tastebuds didn’t really detect a strong oyster mushroom aftertaste with Uptown’s “Taming of the Shroom” saison. I liked the subtle oyster mushroom aftertaste from Gigantic’s “Nevørmind Oyster Stout Oyster Stout.”
For lighter tasters, we tried the brews from Widmer Brothers Brewing and Culmination Brewing Co. Widmer’s Bashō was an IPA brewed on sake lees that blended well with Culmination’s juicy Zen Wave Weizen.
I started to laugh when we came across the pages of the collaboration brews with Baerlic Brewing Co. and Base Camp Brewing Co. Every time we’re in the Pacific Northwest, we seem to find one thing after another named after Douglas. The “Sir Douglas Macstouterson” was definitely very stouty by Baerlic. I liked the smooth and crisp Honey Chestnut Pilsner by Base Camp.
We ended off our tasters with smokey-themed collaborations with Laurelwood and Ex Novo. Laurelwood’s “Out with the Old” was a very dark, unfiltered American Style Dark Wheat brew with Smoked Cherries. Like having a lemon pie for dessert, “In With the New” by Ex Novo was a golden saison with Meyer Lemons, Brett C and Amarillo hops.
Along with our VIP passes, we had our final tokens for a pint of our choice inside the Base Camp tap room. Myself being full from all the tasters, as they started to grow in size as we got closer to closing time, I gave my token to Douglas. We ended our festivities by warming up inside the toasty tap room over pints of ales.
Mark your calendar for the next Collabofest to try never-before-sampled recipes from partnerships between 16 innovative Portland Breweries.
Thanks again to Travel Portland for hosting our stay.
Read more about our adventures in Portland >