Once Upon A Brew Pub – State of Jefferson Brewfest

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With Mount Shasta looming above, clean fresh mountain air, and the smell of pines with wildflowers scattered about, what could be a better venue for a beer fest? On July 14 my wife, Canda, and I headed north to the 20th annual “State of Jefferson Brewfest” at Mt. Shasta Ski Park.

Since I had no idea what the State of Jefferson was, I looked it up on the Internet and learned there was a movement in 1941 to unite the southern counties of Oregon and the northern counties of California into a 51st state.

Gilbert Gable, the mayor of Port Oxford, Ore., felt there was too much government interference and not enough tax money spent locally. He wanted to separate from California and Oregon. There is and was local support for this, and I like the idea.

So my wife and headed north to beat the heat. What a beautiful drive through the mountains and past Lake Shasta. The weather was much cooler than Redding, never getting hotter than 80 degrees. I had never been to Mt. Shasta Ski Park, and what a treat.

Fourteen breweries and a meadery were represented at this awe-inspiring site. There were hot dogs and brats for food, and designated drivers received free soda and water. Debbie and the Fabulous Blackwell Brothers provided the entertainment playing all styles of psychedelic and hippie blues music. The band was perfect for the venue.

Debbie and the Fabulous Blackwell Brothers

I’m not always a big fan of beer fests. They usually seem to attract a group that just wants to consume all the beer they can and get drunk. Surprisingly I saw no indication of this. We would gladly return to this event again. Nice crowd and we shared our table with several different groups. We also found out how small a world it is. One of the young men we met grew up with Doni’s sons.

There was a fine selection of brews to sample. The offerings made for some difficult choices so I decided to choose some that I had not sampled before.

Eel River “Organic” English Style IPA

A pleasant moderate floral/citrus hop aroma with low malt. The color was a deep copper. The hop bitterness was noticeable without being overpowering or lingering. A medium mouth feel, smooth and well balanced. This was a very quaffable IPA. 7.5 % ABV, 55 IBU’s.

High Water Belgian IPA

A moderately strong citrus/grapefruit hop aroma with no malt. The hop bitterness and flavor was very smooth, with medium malt. There was a low to moderate body with a slight sour/bitter note, which did not linger. I am not a big fan of Belgian IPA’s. We’re talking two totally different styles, which I don’t think blend well. The aggressive hops in an IPA over powers the aroma, spices and flavor, which I enjoy in a good Belgian. 6.3% ABV, 65 IBU’s.

Mendocino Brewing Company, Red Tail Amber Ale

Red Tail Amber is one of Mendocino Brewing Company’s “Legend Collection” beers.

This is my favorite beer from Mendocino Brewing. The hop aroma is mild to moderate, and a mild malt note was also detected. Satisfying hop flavor and the bitterness is well balanced with the malt. Moderate mouth feel. Neither the malt nor the hops overpower. There was a crisp dry finish, with no lingering bitterness or astringency. 6.1% ABV, IBU information not available.

Rogue Brewing Company Brutal IPA

I’m not sure why it’s called brutal, as the hop aroma was pleasing and pronounced but not overpowering. The malt aroma was low to moderate. The hop bitterness and flavor was not that powerful. With a name like Brutal I would have expected a much greater and overwhelming hop bitterness and flavor. It was not what I would call an IPA. 6%ABV, 59 IBU’s.

Etna Brewing Company Blackberry Blonde

With a touch of blackberry in the aroma, this was a crisp, slightly sweet beer with a very pleasant blackberry flavor. This would be a wonderful hot summer day brew. Beer specifications are not available.

Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Hop aroma very evident. Citrus and pine notes from the 3 varieties of Pacific Northwestern hops. Hop bitterness was balanced very well with the flavor and aroma. Moderate mouth-feel with what I would call a hint of chocolate. The chocolate note was most likely from toasted malts. The toasted malt chocolate notes accented the hop bitterness. I like this IPA. 6.5% ABV IBU information not available.

Mt. Shasta Brewing Company Jalapeno Beer

There is definitely jalapeno in this beer. It will clean out your sinuses. A spicy jalapeno flavor dominates. I think this one would go very well with a BBQ cheeseburger. Beer specifications are not available.

If you enjoy large crowds and long lines, The State Of Jefferson Beer Fest is not for you. The lines for beer were always short and the crowd was civil and friendly. My wife and I both enjoyed ourselves and plan on attending again next year. For a nice laid-back event in the cool, fresh mountain air give it a try.

Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don’s job requires extensive travel, and he enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Cottonwood, CA.

Don Williams
Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Kalispell, Montana.
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