As I reported last year on Magnetic, since it’s inception Feast Portland has grown from a local grassroots food festival celebrating Oregon’s bounty while raising money to combat hunger in Oregon into a national showcase highlighting the latest trends in craft food and drink. During this year’s festival held from September 12-15, 2019, craft wine, beer, spirits, and ciders made a splash throughout the weekend.
Here’s some of the highlights that caught my eye.
Soaking in the Spirits
During Feast’s signature event Smoked, House Spirits Distillery complemented the barbecue offerings with samples of their Westward American Single Malt Whiskey. In particular, I enjoyed their newest offering, an Oregon Stout Cask finished single malt. Also, they displayed their more carnival side by serving up their S’mores Old Fashioned made with Westward American Single Malt Whiskey, graham cracker honey, chocolate bitters, and toasted marshmallow.
As much as I enjoy the current gin craze where it seems anything botanical gets thrown into the mix, I am really drawn to more classic gins. Here Martin Ryan Distilling Company offered Aria Gin, a classic London dry gin that elevates any cocktail. This year they highlighted this spirt at Feast’s signature event Night Market. For another gin jolt, I stopped by Freeland Spirits’ booth, a woman owned and operated distillery, for samples of their gin, bourbon and jenever. They just came out with a canned gin & tonic cocktail ideal for camping and festival fun. For a bit of cocktail craziness, I picked up a “Witch, Please” cocktail (and fashion tips) from Townshend's Distillery.
Then at the Drink Tank, the panel “Cannabis and Cocktails: Best Buds?” offered insights by Jeremy Plumb of Pruf Cultivar as to how cannabis can provide even more aromatics and flavors to cocktails and beer than its cousin hops. This talk was supplemented by tastings of non-cannabis infused drinks made with Humboldt Distillery’s Hemp Vodka. The taste that proved to be quite light and refreshing, and I look forward to the day when experimentation of cannabis with alcohol becomes as commonplace in the beverage industry as playing with hops and bitters.
Sampling Wine and Sake
The Pacific Northwest wine scene has always been well represented at feast and this year was no exception. As always, I was impressed by the array of Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley available at multiple events throughout Feast. This year I was delighted to sample the latest vintages from one of my favorite vineyards in that region, Angela Estate.
During a media lunch for Washington State Wine, I connected with Damsel Cellars and AniChe Cellars, two women owned wineries who produce some kick ass reds. I saw them later at the Big Feast, as well as catching AniChe Cellars at Night Market. Also at Big Feast, I tasted cans of ICan, a surprisingly light and portable picnic wine.
At the Drink Tank, I expanded my wine knowledge by exploring the white wines of Oregon beyond Chardonnay and Pinot Gris with a panel titled “Yes to New Friends: Oregon’s Other White Wines” featuring wines by Day Wines, Brooks Wines, and Quady North. Then I delved into the world of wine cocktails with a panel “Wine? Cocktails? Let’s have both. (The “Belltown Negroni” made with Aria Gin was my particular favorite).
Along those lines, educational seminars hosted both during and post Feast helped introduce me to the wines of Europe with panels titled Diving Into the Depths of European Quality Garnacha/Grenache Wines and Experience the Wines of Europe (Bordeaux and Germany).
Also, I sampled Saké at both Night Market and Big Feast courtesy of SakéOne. I’m still learning about Saké, and found that a tour of their Kura and samplings in their tasting room helped me gain an appreciation for Saké especially when paired with Asian cuisine.
Celebrating Beer and Cider
This year marked a major uptake in the presence of craft beers and ciders at Feast Portland. In particular, I loved reconnecting with pFriem Family Brewers who featured a collab beer with Stumptown Coffee at Smoked along with their full array of beers during Big Feast. Another collaboration I spotted at Smoked was Ecliptic Brewing fruit beer available at the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission’s booth. I had my first taste of Ferment Brewing’s beers and look forward to connecting with them during my next trek to Hood River. (Fortunately they are located along the same Hood River waterfront as pFriem, thus making for a delightful scenic beer trek.) Other delights included Great Notion Brewing’s Juicy IPA, Old Town Brewing’s Haze of Out Lives, Modern Time Beer’s Space Ways, Von Ebert Brewing’s Volatile Substance, and Wayfinder Beer’s Party Time Pilsner (this special beer brewed exclusively for Feast was available at area New Seasons).
Finally, I was delighted to see Cider Riot making their first Feast appearance. A visit to their PDX taproom is a must see stop for a deep dive into authentic English ciders.
Those interested in joining this party next year should keep their eyes open when tickets go on sale in June 2020 for Feast 2020 which will held next year from September 17-20, 2020.