Skip to main content

The Manual’s Top 9 Beers from the Portland International Brewfest

This past weekend was the Portland International Brewfest – an annual event that fills up PDX’s Pearl District as thousands of thirsty beer enthusiasts show up to sample the festival’s massive and tightly-curated selection of beers from across the globe. We couldn’t miss out, so we put on our drinking shoes, packed our notebooks, and took tasting notes until we were too drunk to hold a pen. Now that the hangover has finally subsided, we’ve combed through our notes to share nine of our favorites.

Why only nine? Because our tasting notes were completely illegible after three hours of drinking glass after glass of high-octane craft beer, and the last one on the list is technically a cider. So without further ado, here’s the Manual’s guide to the best beer in the world:

Ten Fidy Imperial Stout – Oskar Blues Brewery – CO

This was the first one we tried at the festival, and it set the bar high. Really high. This might be one of the best beers we’ve had all year. It’s dark as night (we held it up to the sun and couldn’t even see through it) with strong roasted malt flavors mingling alongside bold coffee and chocolate notes. The flavor is so full you’ll hardly notice the high IBUs.

ABV: 10.5%
IBU: 98

Armored Fist Double CDA – Boneyard Beer Company – OR

CDA stands for Cascadian Dark Ale. It’s a relatively new style of beer that’s starting to pop up in the Northwest, and it’s f@%kign delicious. This one sits in the glass with a hazy reddish brown color and a thin foam on top. When it hits your tongue the flavor is just as hoppy as your nose leads you to believe, and finishes strong with plenty of citrus and dark malt.

ABV: 10%
IBU: 90

Oaked Double IPA with Birch Syrup – Great Divide Brewing Company – CO

Colorado is killing it in the brewing game right now. They had a handful of the best beers at the entire event, and this one had us coming back for seconds. It pours with a murky orange-gold color and hits the palate with a woody, piney, hoppy flavor that’s offset with a light birch syrup sweetness. A clean, fizzy finish makes you want another sip every time you swallow.

ABV: 10

Gose – Upright Brewery – OR

Gose is a German style beer that’s known for it’s salty, savory, and tart flavors, and even though they’re brewing it in Oregon, Upright absolutely nailed the recipe. This one comes through with a wheaty, salty, bread-like flavor with a satisfying finish reminiscent of cheese and champagne. It’s got a slight citrusy tang, but it’s not really tart, which makes it super drinkable.

ABV: 5.2%
IBU: n/a

Grand Cru Belgian Strong Pale Ale – North Coast Brewing Co. – CA

It’s hard to believe that this badboy weighs in at almost 13% ABV – the flavors are so robust you can hardly tell. It’s aged in whiskey barrels and brewed with agave nectar, so it’s got these great oaky bourbon notes mingling with sweet cactus hints. You’d think that wouldn’t mix, but somehow it comes together to form a wonderfully complex and highly refreshing brew.

ABV: 12.5%
IBU: 10

Le Freak Belgian IPA – Green Flash Brewery – CA

Le Freak is aptly named – it’s freakishly good. Pours with golden yellow glow and a thick off-white head, and smells strongly of yeast, oranges, and hops. The flavor is about as hoppy as you’d expect from a straight-up IPA, but with a good bready finish. It’s surprisingly crisp, and features hints of clove and coriander. Great for warm weather.

ABV: 9.2%
IBU: 36

Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout – Anderson Valley Brewing Company – CA

We thought Ten Fidy was going to be the best stout we had all day, and then we tasted this work of art. Aged in Wild Turkey barrels, this beer picks up all kinds of great flavors. It’s light and oaky up front with a slippery smooth vanilla-coffee flavor going down. Caramel and chocolate hints come through as well, but the sweetness is never overpowering.

ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 14

Double Bastard – Stone Brewing – OR

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, you’ll probably recognize this one. Double Bastard is essentially the same thing, but with double the hops. As such, it’s got a mind-blowing full-bodied hop flavor that hits the palate with hints of citrus, pine, and a faint taste of cherries. You’re not worthy.

ABV: 11.2%
IBU: 85

White Rider of Conquest Belgian Strong Pale Ale – Double Mountain Brewery – OR

This beer is every bit as epic as its name suggests. It pours with a solid gold color and a pillowy white head, and hits your nostrils with a light citrusy aroma. When sipped, the citrus flavor becomes even more apparent and mingles with whispy hints of clove and pine. It’s wonderfully light for a Belgian strong pale ale, which makes it a great summertime sipper.

ABV: 8.7%
IBU: 29

Oaked Dry Cider – Wandering Aengus Ciderworks – OR

It’s not a beer, but we liked this cider so much that we just had to mention it. It’s appley and tart, but with an array of subtle flavors gained from oak barrel aging. The drink finishes clean and crisp with a mildly spicy and clove-like aftertaste.

ABV: 8.4%
IBU: n/a

Editors' Recommendations

Drew Prindle
Drew is our resident tech nerd. He’s spent most of his life trying to be James Bond, so naturally he’s developed an…
Super Bowl of Beers: The Best Brews from San Francisco and Kansas City
2020 super bowl beers best of san francisco kansas city fieldwork feature

While the highly anticipated ads may tell you otherwise, what you drink this Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t have to be generic suds. In fact, you can drink some great stuff from in and around the two cities represented in this year’s matchup.

As the Kansas City Chiefs get set to take on the San Francisco 49ers, another rivalry comes to life — that of craft beer from the two American cities. We’ve picked three of our favorites from the Bay Area and the city that sits in two states to suit up and fetch a W in the name of beer excellence.

Read more
Pairing the English Premier League Soccer Teams with Craft Beers from the United States
beer soccer game tv

man watching the soccer match on the tv Franckreporter/Getty Images
European soccer has returned in earnest, much to the delight of footy fans. Sure, the MLS (Major League Soccer) is improving and the women’s World Cup was glorious, but the former is in its dog days of summer and the latter has come to an end.
In short, there’s nothing quite like the English Premiere League and the beer-soaked fanfare it inspires. As the 2019-2020 season kicks off, consider these pairings if you’re looking for a beer that behaves like your team. Apologies to Manchester United. We’ll talk about you as soon as you become bona fide contenders again, whenever that may be. (Note: the writer is ignoring their thumping of Chelsea at the moment.)
Since most of us here are watching from the U.S., we decided to pair the teams not just with a style, but with some of our favorite American-made beers.
Manchester City
Style: Farmhouse Saison

Pep Guardiola is arguably the greatest manager on earth, known to produce unselfish teams with tremendous passing ability. Manchester City is no different under his command and, as a result, the winningest English club of the last several seasons. Players like Kevin DeBruyne, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, and just-signed Rodri combine to create lopsided possession stats and run their opponents straight into the ground. 
This type of technically sound play wherein scores of superstars still behave like a team calls for a similarly impressive, sum-of-all-its-parts type of beer. A nice saison encapsulates the squad nicely. Try the Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse.

Read more
Boulevard Brewing Brings Tech N9ne’s Caribou Lou to Life as a Craft Beer
boulevard brewing tech n9ne caribou lou bou beer

When two employees at Boulevard Brewing Company thought about brewing a beer for American rapper Tech N9ne, they took matters into their own hands and reached out.  To their surprise, the rapper’s label company, Strange Music, got back to them soon after and they roped in hip hop fan and Boulevard digital marketing manager Pat Mullin to help get the full brewery on board.
“As soon as I heard about it, I made it my goal to see it through and make it happen,” Mullin said. “It was a long process.”

Before too terribly long, however, a meeting of the minds was held and Tech N9ne was visiting the Boulevard brewery and it was time to determine what beer to make.
“We all knew we wanted to make a homage to Caribou Lou, his signature drink, what better than to play off of it,” Mullin said.

Read more