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Barrel roll: Evasion, ForeLand debut Oregon Brewers Festival

Evasion Brewing and ForeLand Beer of McMinnville will pour new releases July 28-30 at the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, back after a two-year hiatus. The festival beer field is smaller than past years, and this is the first year appearance by both ForeLand, located in downtown McMinnville, and Evasion Brewing, a production-only, gluten-free brewery in north McMinnville.

Evasion will pour one of only three beers in the festival below four percent alcohol by volume, its Michelada, which brewer Evan Lapp says is “basically a Mexican beer cocktail, this crisp, low-alcohol lager made with Tajin chili salt and Mexican limes. The mild heat, salt and tart lime juice had been balanced to be deliciously refreshing for the hot summer weather.” It checks in at 3.9 ABV.

ForeLand will present Horizontal Reflection Bohemian Pilsner, which the brewers describe as “Made to reflect the masterful creations of the traditional Bohemian brewers, this beer features malted Czech barley and Czech Saaz hops. Delicate, yet powerful. Nuanced, yet expressive.” (ABV 5 percent, IBU 41)

Proceeds from the festival will go to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Festival hours are noon to 9 p.m., at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. For only the second time in its 33-year run, all beers and ciders are Oregon-made – and 80 % are new releases.

The festival is switching from wooden tokens to paper tickets, but anyone with tokens from past years is welcome to bring them and swap for tickets, one-for-one.

Festival admission is free but beer samples require a $30 ticket, which includes a souvenir mug and 10 tasting tickets. Minors welcome, no pets allowed. For details go to merctickets.com/events

(Personal note: I attended the first OBF, in 1988, when it was all held under one tent at Tom McCall Park, with a whopping 12 brewers present. As we perused the list of beers in advance, we wondered how we would ever choose from such abundance; however, even in that first year the long lines developed early and we ended up trying three beers from the shortest lines.)

Crowing Hen news

The brewery on the road between Lafayette and Carlton is keeping busy, bringing on brewer extraordinaire Charlie Van Meter of McMinnville to craft some of the brews alongside brewmasters Michelle and Ryan Rhea.

Crowing Hen has just put into barrels a modern lager to debut at Twilight Tastings, the annual after-hours event at Beacon Hill Winery and Vineyard, 22251 N.E. Laughlin Road, Gaston, 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27.

That provides an aging time of almost six weeks: “just about as short a time as we like to do this,” Ryan Rhea said.

“We got hold of some of Beacon Hill’s Pinot gris barrels. We always do our modern lager in white (wine) barrels such as sparkling wine or Pinot gris. Nobody lets white wine barrels go — they’re really sought-after,” he said.

That’s a busy weekend for Crowing Hen, as they’ll also pour selected ales on July 28 across the road at Abbey Road Farm, in the annual Silobration event featuring music, food, wine and beer, and a gathering of makers.

Favorite forthcoming ales include a Brett saison now “cooking,” as Rhea puts it, and another using special barrels from a neighboring winery, Dominio IV, at 11570 N.E. Intervale Road. Rhea said the beer is aging in barrels which had been filled with Viognier wine but imbued with clusters of Syrah, giving it a rose tone and “that Syrah structure,” calling it “one of my favorite wines around here.”

Crowing Hen has also begun barrel-aging collaboratives with two local distilleries: Branch Point from Dayton and Ransom Spirits from Sheridan.

“We’ve got a pretty good barrel program going now,” Rhea said, among them a barley wine in whiskey barrels, and a Belgian white style ale “cooking” in barrels that held Batch 100 of Ransom’s Old Tom Gin. Ransom ages its gin in whiskey and wine barrels for a darker color and botanical enhancements, and the Rheas are naturally eager to see how their first gin-infused ale will taste after the barrel cycle of whiskey-gin-ale is complete.

Send local beer and cider news to Kirby Neumann-Rea at kirby@newsregister.com or call him at 503-687-1291.

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