Every year, the KLCC Microbrew Festival gives Eugene’s craft brewers a chance to collaborate on small batches of beer. The theme this year is KLCC’s 50th Anniversary. KLCC’s Rachael McDonald sat down with a couple local brewers to find out more about what they’re cooking up.
Jason Carriere’s official title is Superintendent of Suds at Falling Sky Brewing in Eugene.
Carriere: “So, the theme this year is really a tribute from the Eugene brewery community to KLCC on its 50th Anniversary. So, we’re kind of treating it like a wedding anniversary and we’re saying, you know, congratulations on 50 years, it’s your golden anniversary. So, we’re contributing beers as gifts that either involve the number 50 in some play or the theme of gold or golden. There are a lot of brewing ingredients that use the term gold either for malt of for hop varieties.”
Falling Sky collaborated with Claim 52 to make an English IPA for the festival.
Carriere: “Featuring Golden Promise as the main malt and also featuring a lot of Golding type hop varieties and Golden Naked Oats also in the malt. So, based on the fact that hops are a flower, we named it Golden Flower’s Imperial English IPA. It’s very hoppy but in traditional English hop sense. So it should be a new experience for people.”
Rich Massella is a brewer with Ninkasi in Eugene. They teamed up with Steelhead’s McKenzie Brewing Company to make a collaboration brew. They used ingredients that play off the theme of the number 50 and gold.
Massella: “We used a British malt called Golden Promise to tie into the golden theme along with golden oats. For hops we did half Centennial, so half of 100. And then the other half of the hops were Idaho 7.”
Massella describes it as a pretty light-bodied beer.
Massella: “It’s got some residual sweetness from the British-style malt. The hops, the Centennial, are piney, lemony, grapefruit, a little bit cleaner. And then the Idaho 7 is more of a heavier, tropical papaya kind of hop. So getting those two things to kind of play against each other in a good balance was really our goal there.”
Rachael: “So, it sounds like it does have that distinctive sort of hoppiness that we know from Ninkasi.”
Massella: “Yeah. There’s definitely a lot of hops. The bitterness isn’t quite as extreme. But we definitely put a lot of hops in the backend in the whirlpool and that will bring through a lot of the flavors we were looking for.”
Massella says the name for the beer is Guskin, which means golden in the ancient Sumerian language. Ninkasi is the Sumerian goddess of beer– and namesake of the brewery. Massella says he likes participating in the collaboration brew because it’s a chance to connect with other people in his field.
Massella: “Eugene has a great brewing community and everybody’s friendly, willing to work with one another and, you know, drink some beer.”
Massella says Ninkasi also plans to have their newest beer, Pacific Rain, on tap at the brewfest.
Jason Carriere of Falling Sky says the Eugene craft brewing community is the only one he knows of that does a collaboration brew. He says since they started doing it at the KLCC brewfest in 2002, the brewing community has grown a lot. This year, there are 9 different collaboration brews with 14 local breweries participating.
Carriere: “A lot of other breweries from around the state love to come to this fest to hang out with the Eugene beer scene and the collaboration is really where the Eugene brewers step to the forefront.”
Falling Sky also coordinates the homebrew competition at the brewfest. Carriere says the winner will be announced Saturday night. All the Collaboration Brews will be together in one booth at the brewfest. Ninkasi and Falling Sky are joining 83 other breweries from the northwest and beyond at the KLCC Microbrew Festival.