Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finding Fall


Tomatoes, potatoes, and hops on the vine/ blackberries and cherries and strawberry wine
The wind shakes the branches, leaves fall from the trees/ the winter is coming, we do as we please
Tomatoes, potatoes, and hops on the vine/ blackberries and cherries and strawberry wine
The harvest is in now, the moon's on the rise/ the starlight is shining in my lover's eyes
Tomatoes, potatoes, and hops on the vine/ blackberries and cherries and strawberry wine
There's music a playin', there's beer set to drink/ we're gonna go dancing, we won't sleep a wink
Tomatoes, potatoes, and hops on the vine/ blackberries and cherries and strawberry wine

Seriously, it sounds pretty good when I play it - if I do say so myself!
So alas, the summer is closed down for, well, the summer.  I have yet to make it out to see all of the West Toast staffers on my spirited away tour - but fear not!  I am not done trying.  Until then I have a number of fall-themed posts to share with you that are meant to embrace the season rather than fear it.  As a person who just recently relocated from 300 days of sunshine to the land of eternal rain, I am looking for any and all ways to celebrate rather than lament the coming of the cold and wet.

I am a professional gleaner.  No, I don't glean for money, but I do spend a good chunk of my time in the fall scanning the roadside for houses with fruit trees.  When I see one that for days and days seems never to be picked, and the fruit starts hitting the ground, I go up and knock on the door to see if I can pick some.  One of these houses happened to be right near where I live!  I ended up with a modest amount of pears which I decided would make a nice crisp.

Pear Crisp Recipe
10-15 pears (depends on size), cored and chopped
1/2c. honey
1t. cinnamon
1/2c. butter
1c. flour
1/2c. sugar
  • Lightly grease a baking pan (I use cast iron), and place chopped pears into it.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey.
  • In a mixing bowl combine flour, butter, and sugar until it is completely mixed and is lightly crumbly
  • Pour crumble mixture over pears until completely covered.  Pat down lightly
  • Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes

I paired our pears with a little gem I got from a friend a while back - Eola Hills Pacific Blanc.  A while blend with mostly muscat grapes. This wine sported a strong peach and melon nose, and was only lightly sweet.  I enjoyed the strong summery fruit flavors in contrast with the heavy autumnal sensibility of the pear crisp.  It came sweeter at the front, with a smooth pear flavor at the center and a tart almost apricot finish.  I found it balanced and well paired with our dessert. 

So happy fall all - if you know of other ways to find pleasure in the rain please pass them on to me!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2007 Ash Hollow Headless Red

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Wine labeling and marketing are often a predictable practice. Wineries typically have to appear as classy as possible, so the market gets flooded with indistinguishable labels featuring brush/cursive script, pictures of expensive estates, and sometimes marsupials. When labeling a table wine or value red, the brush script gets voted out in favor of block letters or something that looks 5% edgier.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during whatever meeting at Ash Hollow Estate Vineyards and Winery ended with something like "screw that, we're calling ours 'Headless Red' and the label better damn well have an epic shot of the headless horseman looking all majestic in a foggy wooded area." In a market of boring and generic naming/labeling/marketing, it certainly caught my attention. A little bit about Ash Hollow as described by their website:

Ash Hollow is about family, friends, food, fun and great wine - Ash Hollow is also about roots and place; and that place is Walla Walla, Washington. A sense of place is pervasive and a friendly spirit of camaraderie is contagious. From the estate vineyards, to the boutique winery, to the quaint downtown Walla Walla tasting room, there is that certain something that can't be defined by logic or science - that sense of place and warmth that are so special and unmistakably woven into the Ash Hollow experience.

It's also located at a site local folklore claim to be haunted by a headless dude who could be found chillin in the area where their vineyard currently resides! Has the winery kept him at bay with offerings of delicious wine? I'm not sure, but you can read the entire story about the headless ghost on their website.

While having a decapitated ghost riding a horse on your label is certainly bad ass and will turn even more heads as we near Halloween, that same strategy kind of ups the difficulty in that the wine better be just as good. Ash Hollow blended their 2007 Headless Red with 95% Cab Sauv and 5% Petit Verdot to be not just "legendary," but "WICKED GOOD." Ok, enough with the marketing, I promise I actually drank some.

I'll also note for full disclosure that this was a promotional bottle sent to me by Ash Hollow. Like all beverages we review, I'm still going to be just as critical as I would otherwise.

My bottle of Headless Red poured a light ruby color that almost looked more similar to a Pinot. My immediate thought was that this wine was going to be quite lighter than what I was used to with typical Walla Walla Cab Sauvs. While I was right, it wasn't as much of a stretch as I imagined. A little bit of earthiness was accompanied by black cherry, currant, and just a hint of strawberry in a way that celebrates the best of Walla Walla Cab Sauv in a way that is a bit more inviting to casual wine drinkers. While you could pair this with numerous options, this wine certainly stands up on its own and would be a big hit at gatherings (say, a Halloween party). Coming in at $18, it's not the cheapest entry red out there, but it's also leagues better than a lot of its competition.

A huge thank you goes out to Jennifer Gregory at Ash Hollow for sending this our way. I'm certainly going to add Ash Hollow to my next Walla Walla visit. If I'm lucky, I plan on sharing a bottle of this with their headless vineyard resident.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I like scotch. Scotch scotch scotch.

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Just as Ron Burgundy proclaims in Anchorman, I've long considered myself an enjoyer of Scotch.  Now, there's a significant dichotomy between simply enjoying scotch and being knowledgeable about it, and until July, I hadn't experienced a scotch truly exquisite enough to warrant further investigation.  A booze-filled weekend jaunt in Sunriver and a concrete engineer with a penchant for the fine stuff changed everything.

Late one night towards the end of the vacation, our motley crew was playing cards and becoming fatigued with our awesome lineup of wine and beer.  My friend Matt looked over at me, a glint in his eye, and the magic words came out of his mouth:
I brought a little something special that I've been saving. A fine connoisseur with a monocle and top-hat as yourself will certainly enjoy it. By the way, did you know that concrete and cement are two different things?
Did I mention that Matt is a concrete engineer? No? Well that's the subject of a different post on a different day. Back to Scotch. Matt pulled out a bottle of Oban Distillery West Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky that he had purchased in Scotland, and we went to town.

About Scotch

Scotch is essentially whisky, made under specific conditions and guidelines.  An interesting side note, whisky produced in the United States is spelled whiskey, although that is irrelevant for these purposes as by definition Scotch cannot be produced in the US.  To learn about this mysterious and powerful beverage, allow me to consult our favorite reference, Wikipedia:

"Scotch whisky (often referred to simply as "Scotch") is whisky made in Scotland. Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (formerly called "vatted malt" or "pure malt"), Blended Grain Scotch Whisky, and Blended Scotch Whisky. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Any age statement written on a bottle of Scotch whisky, in the form of a number, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed age whisky."

A lot like wine labeling regulation in the United States, Scotch Whisky is controlled by the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 in the UK.  I'd love to meet the politicians who wrote that law!

Oban Distillery

Founded in 1794 in the west coast Scotland port city of Oban, the Oban Distillery is one of the very early scotch producers and is one of the smallest in Scotland.  Operating with 2 pot stills, Oban produces a "West Highland" style Scotch in relatively small production.  Best know for a 14-year old Scotch, Oban also has released an 18-year and 32-year edition...and the Distiller's Edition, my new favorite Scotch.
Oban NAS Scotch

The bottle that Matt had brought for us to share was the Oban NAS, a distiller's reserve edition with a production of 8999 bottles available only at the distillery. In Scotland.  Exclusive.  My notes are a bit sketchy, but as I recall from Matt's description, this is a very special Scotch.  Initially aged for 14 years in Bourbon oak barrels, the NAS is then transitioned to a Montilla Fino sherry cask for 3 years, and finished for 3 more years in a second sherry cask.  If you're bad at math, that's 20 years, friends.  20 delicious years.

Matt poured Gordon and I some tasting glasses and instructed us on the *proper* way to taste Scotch - a three stage process. First, we did the wine-tasting routine with the Scotch "neat", at room temperature with nothing in the glass except pure Scotch.  We smelled, swirled, and sipped.  Then, Matt added a dash of water to our Scotch, to dilute and open it up a bit.  The final and third stage was on the rocks, with just a cube of ice.  It was fascinating to see the progression of the Scotch through the process.

Gordon, a man of few words, said this, "Wow.  Powerful at first.  Then, woody."  I immediately noted that this was very well balanced compared to the swill I usually drink.  It immediately hit my sinuses, then adding water broke up the oils a bit and caused the Scotch to envelop my mouth a bit more.  The sherry casks seemed to add some caramel notes and sweetness to the nose.  It was delicious.

So there you have it, my first foray into the world of fine Scotch.  Hopefully you learned something, I know I certainly did.  Among other facts, it solidified my enjoyment of this fine beverage.  More to come as I convince Matt that I'm worthy to share with!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gettin' a Little Girly at the Rhapsody in the Vineyard

People often describe me as a tomboy - I backpack, build things with power tools, play sports, and love to watch NFL with a cold brew on Sundays (that could also of course make me West Toast staff writer Andrea Flatley).  Despite all of these amazing things I like to do, there are others I love that may make one rethink putting me in a box - unless the box is full of wine of course, then box away.


My roommate Emily and I decided to live it up in the big city of Corvallis this weekend, attending the biannual Rhapsody in the Vineyard Downtown Wine Walk.  Seeing as it was a girl's night out we did one of my favorite things - we got all dolled up in pretty dresses!  The wonderful dry-ish heat of the Willamette Valley summers is just wonderful for light cotton dresses, strappy sandals, and rhinestone sunglasses.  We hopped on bicycles, skirts flying, and headed down into town to drink some wine!

Drop Dead Red (4th from the left) sports a sexy label and a note that it is for "adults only"

We hit up something like 10 of the 30 locations, enjoying interesting merchandise, eclectic music, delicious hors d'oeuvres, and drank some delectable wines.  I had many favorites, but I will highlight only a few to spare you a loooog article.  The first, Drop Dead Red by Hip Chicks Do Wine was a lovely and flavorful blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.  I have to admit that I picked this to taste not because I was curious about this blend, but because of the label sporting a woman in lingerie.  I can't help it - I dig lingerie.  The wine was intense and fruity on the nose - dark cherries and almost a floral scent over the top.  It has a semi-sweet start full of cherry with hints of vanilla and oak coming through to the finish.  This is an excellent sippin' wine - crack a bottle with the girls on the porch and make a night of it!  Throw in some brownies or dark chocolate and you have yourself a party.

Emily found some fun finery along with some tasty plum wine

I've been to a number of wine walks, and what I liked best about this one was that Emily and I were not the only group of ladies who decided to get pretty and drink.  Every place we went to we enjoyed groups of tipsy women giggling and enjoying the evening.  The place we saw the most of this was at Donna Bella Lingerie where we sampled fruit wines from Depoe Bay.  Not only did we get to sip wine while checking out the unmentionables (I mean it - I like lingerie), but we also met the owner Susan and were treated to a discussion about proper bra fitting.  Next girls' adventure will most certainly include a stop in at this place to get taken care of!

I know, I know - this pic is the wrong wine.  The pic of the Crescendo did not come out well.

I'd never heard of Mia Sonatina until this walk.  Out of Amity, OR, this winery is owned by a couple who are passionate about winemaking - and it shows!  We tasted three wines here, and my favorite by far as the '07 Crescendo.  This Cabernet Franc/Cab Sav blend was intense with a balance between bright and dark.  The nose was fruity with hints of vanilla and almost a bourbon scent lingering at the end.  The flavor was equally complex, bringing a near-sweet fruity start with a little vanilla.  This followed with a rich cherry flavor that was bold and dark, with a finish that brought a liqueur flavor that reminded me of cherry cordials.  It was absolutely wonderful!  Perhaps after getting new bras Emily and I will take them out to Amity to hit up the tasting room.

I can’t become one of those women who wait by the phone, eyes know, parasols-a-twirling - CJ Cregg

The night was filled with our own giggles, pretty dresses, wine - a lovely ladies' eventing.  Of course once the wine walk ended we went to Block 15, drank beer, and watched football...a girl can only be girly for so long you see.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My turn to Indulge!

For those of you who are frequent visitors of WestToast, you'll remember that at around this time last year, Josh had the privilege to Indulge at the Jupiter. Well, it's my turn this year!

Not familiar with the event? Here it is straight form the horse's mouth:

INDULGE @ THE JUPITER, Portland’s flagship culinary event, invites guests to indulge once again in all the senses: savor, sip and nibble on the Eastside’s finest foods. The third annual neighborhood festival of culinary arts benefiting p:ear is coming: Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 5:30 to 9 PM.

The premier edible event stars chef-owned restaurants, boutique wines and spirits, and the best tasty treats from local restaurants, breweries, and distilleries – all together under the Jupiter’s DreamTENT. Mingle with fellow foodies and browse a bevy of bites. Regular admission is $45, and early birds purchasing tickets before September 9th pay $40. Limited tickets available at Guests enjoy the best of restaurant and bakery fare, as well as signature cocktails crafted on-site and drinks from local distilleries and breweries inside the Jupiter’s very own guest rooms.

The proceeds from Indulge benefit p:ear programs helping to build positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth, ages 15 to 24, through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives. Each year these programs serve more than 550 homeless and transitional young people.

Yes, you read that correctly. Not only do you get to eat and drink some of the best food and beverages Portland has to offer until you feel like you're going to explode, but it's all for a great cause. Oh, and there's going to be a Food Cart Land!

Chomping at the bit to learn more? Check out Indulge's website and buy yourself some tickets. See you there!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ain't Life Grand? Taste of Sonoma 2011

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I am a native of Sonoma County. With the exception of an 8 year stint to attend college and graduate school, I have always lived in this area, just minutes from some of the world’s best wines. Every now and then, like when I cross the Golden Gate Bridge or when I get to attend events like Taste of Sonoma do I remember how privileged I am to live where I do. I get to live in an area that people from all over the world save for months or years to be able to visit. This year’s Taste of Sonoma had no less of an impact on me and I realized how truly lucky I am.
If you haven’t attended Taste of Sonoma before, it is a collection of over 170 Sonoma County wineries and 60 local chefs pouring and pairing what makes Sonoma so delightful. The event, held at breathtaking MacMurray Ranch is organized into the different AVA’s (Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valley) While this was only our second year covering the event, it was easily become a weekend to look forward to and one of our favorite events. Not only do we get the chance to meet new people and wineries, but it is also a chance to connect with other friends in the industry.

As we got to Taste of Sonoma we stopped off at the Gloria Ferrer Bubble lounge. Last year we walked right by the bubbles and missed out. Each paired with a food item, Gloria Ferrer was pouring three different wines. My favorite was the Royal Cuvee paired with a delicious Kayasha Brick Pizza. After a quick stop in the Visa Signature Lounge we made our way to the main event.

Starting in Sonoma Valley, we went straight for the Bacchus Restaurant and Wine Bar table. In all honesty, Katie works for the DoubleTree Hotel where Bacchus is located so the visit was partially for the food and partially to socialize (I went for the food, Katie went to socialize). Regardless, the Nicoise Salad with locally sourced Sturgeon and Heirloom Tomato was a great start to the day and felt great in the Sonoma heat. We also couldn’t leave without wishing Chef Don Nolan good luck in the upcoming Steel Chef competition. Although he didn’t emerge victorious, we are still proud of Chef Don...way to represent Bacchus!
James and Chef Don Nolan of Bacchus
We made sure to stop by Cartograph Wines and say hi to our friends Alan and Serena. First timers at Taste of Sonoma, they were pouring their 2009 Floodgate Pinot Noir and 2010 Gewurtztraminer.  Since meeting them at Pinot Days we have enjoyed each chance we get to spend with these two. Laid back, friendly, and passionate about wine, they are always a lot of fun. Don’t believe me?....Check out the Garagiste tasting room in Healdsburg, featuring Cartograph and Stark Wines and you will see what I am talking about.
Alan and Serena of Cartograph Wines
Photo courtesy of William Allen

Jordan Winery
The great thing about Taste of Sonoma is that is exposes you to so many wineries at once and perhaps wineries that you wouldn’t ever meet otherwise. As a result of following them on Twitter, we went over and met the folks at Jordan Winery in the Alexander Valley tent. They were pouring their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Incredibly balanced with dark fruit and a hint of vanilla, this wine seemed to be a favorite of the guests and went quickly. I didn’t try to the 2009 Chardonnay they were pouring but Katie said it was nice and crisp with a lot of apple flavor.

Continuing the trend of meeting new wineries and winemakers we went over to the Everett Ridge table in Dry Creek. Pouring several wines, I only tried the 2010 Estate Syrah Rose’. Previously a non-believer in rose’ I have recently discovered several that I find to be very drinkable. The Everett Ridge rose’ is now added to that list. A nose of fresh strawberries, the wine was very delicate but was also something I could see myself opening on a hot day when I want something cool and refreshing. It had prominent notes of berries while at the same time exposing you flavors of citrus and some nice acidity.

For all the great things about this event, it proved to be an interesting experience as a wine writer. Katie and I both walked around with a spit cup, knowing we would be tasting a lot of wine that day. Not everyone took the same approach and as the event was nearing a close we visited a winery that told us we were the most sober people at the event. I get it...consumers pay a pretty penny for the ticket and are out to try a lot of wine. I just question how much they are actually remembering about the wines they taste, especially those later in the day. These events are a lot of fun and meant to expose you to many wineries, I just don’t think you need to hit all 170 in one day. The wineries will still be there and what a better excuse to plan another visit back to beautiful Sonoma County.

I will be heading up to Mendocino County this weekend for Winesong!, another philanthropic wine event so be sure to check back soon.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grab some wine, College Football Season is here!

Today is the start of the college football season. My alma mater, Arizona State University, plays tonight so I’m more than a little excited.

Usually you associate beer with football but today we’re talking wine -- and here’s why.
Arizona State is my college football team.
Dennis Erickson is the ASU head coach.
Dennis Erickson has a summer home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
My favorite winery is in Coeur d’Alene and I visited it this summer.
See -- OBVIOUSLY that means we should talk wine.

You would never expect to find a winery on the unassuming street where Coeur d’Alene Cellars sits. You pass the Coeur d’Alene Police Station and a beer distribution warehouse on your way around the half-moon street -- all of a sudden you see it. Quaint and rustic but with modern charm the winery pops out at you with a burst of red and multicolored brick features. When you open the heavy wooden door to head into the tasting room you are greeted my low lights, pops of color, shelves of wine and a huge wooden table perfect for your closest friends and family to chat around as you go through a tasting.

Here’s the “who’s who of CDA Cellars courtesy of their website:

|| Coeur d’Alene Cellars was founded to create the best quality Rhone varietal wines from the best quality fruit found in the Columbia, Walla Walla and Yakima Valleys of Washington State. Owned by Kimber Gates and her parents, Dr. Charlie and Sarah Gates, and their family, it now produces over 3,400 cases each year and has nine current releases. ||

I was introduced to Coeur d’Alene Cellars by my boyfriend, Craig Newcomb. Craig is a news photographer and shot a story about the winery when they first opened back in 2002. He started stopping in with one of his reporters whenever he could. He moved to Seattle four years ago but is still a wine club member at CDA Cellars.

There are a few different wine club options out there. The one that Craig likes is the Sipper Club -- it offers one white and two reds each quarter. There’s also the Classic No. 6 Wine Club or the Artist Circle to choose from. If you don’t live in the Northern Idaho/Eastern Washington area you can get your wines shipped right to your door. Once you become a club member your price to stay a part of it will never go up -- that membership also gets you a discount on retail orders, free tastings and exclusive invitations to pick-up events and release parties.

My second favorite thing about Coeur d’Alene Cellars is the casual atmosphere in their tasting room. If you don’t want to sit around that big table you can pull a stool up at the bar and chat with the employees, wander around the tasting room and check out the specials or even meander outside to a beautiful garden area (they do host weddings and other special events if you’re interested). You also feel comfortable wearing a t-shirt inside in case you're stopping by after a walk around the Lake Coeur d'Alene Resort Boardwalk (as I prove here :). My first favorite thing is the wine. I have a couple favorites but all of their varieties are smooth and no matter if you’re a big red or a sweet white fan I can honestly say I think you’ll enjoy the entire tasting.

Here are the two I always hope to see on the tasting list when I stop in:

|| 2006 Envy: Envy's big aromas of ripe cherry fruit, balanced with deep smoky and Cajun spices, lead to deep, dark fruit flavors of cassis and boysenberry on a firm palate of ample, mouth filling tannins. Great cellar candidate. ||

|| 2006 Opulence: With spicy notes of vanilla, cinnamon and orange peel on the nose, cherry pie, dark current and plum flavors complement vanilla and chocolate on the palate. The intense fruit flavors are well balanced by bold tannins, woodsy, mushroom flavors and cracked pepper on a lengthy finish. ||

So, Coach Erickson -- I hope you have a great season and you and the SunDevils do as well as some have predicted. Next time you’re in the great state of Idaho -- stop by my favorite winery to check it out.

Go Devils!

*wine photos courtesy of my fellow SunDevil Alum and wine tasting buddy Troy Narvaez. The football one is courtesy of Google Images and Fox Sports Net Arizona.


Beerfest from behind the line

Finally! I was fast enough to secure a volunteer spot at one of Portland’s many Brewfests! I got signed up for a Friday night shift at Portland’s International Beer Festival (It also made a stop a few weeks earlier in the Emerald City) -- I just had to do it a few months in advance.

So here’s the behind the scene look.

We all arrived at our shift and sort of gathered like cattle outside the fence as a guy wearing a ‘Beer Police’ T-shirt -- and by that I mean it was a Int’l Beer Fest shirt that he’d taken a sharpie to, writing the phrase on the back -- filled us in on the rules.
  1. Pull the tap all the way back, no halfsies
  2. Take tickets first and tear tickets then serve beer
  3. Fill to the 4oz line, you go under customers will be mad, you go over Int’l Brew Fest will be mad
Once we’d gotten the instructions we filed in, signed paperwork, got our non-drinking wristband and our station assignments. I was assigned to booth number 12 so I was over in the Northwest corner of the park block hosting the event. I walked up and the first shifter was eager to tell me how lucky I was and how great the beer that I got to pour was. He made sure to point out that when he got his volunteer tickets he’d be back for some tastes -- which he was.

I was pouring two different beers both Belgium's from the same distributor (Shelton Brothers) and both cost three tickets -- or around $3.00 for each 4 ounce pour. The first one was Geants Goliath Tripel. I was saying “trip-pell” but as one customer pointed out, with his nose in the air, it’s “tri-pull.” After researching on the world wide web -- it sounds like most people, even those in Belgium -- say “triple.” Feel free to let me know if you know something I don’t and if you know that snobby guy -- please laugh at him.

Anyway, that Goliath (said Gouyasse in the local dialect) is a 9.0% ABV with a low number of International Bitterness Units at 25. I only managed a small taste at the beginning of my shift, thanks random guy who let me borrow your tasting glass -- my only criticism of the volunteer shift* -- but through that taste and a few other comments I’d recommend this beer. It has some hints of citrus, is very smooth and would be very kind to a newbie beer taster’s palate. You can taste the hops and plenty of malt, because that’s all that’s used with this beer, no sugars are added. This means that the longer the beer sits -- the drier it will get because the malt starts to do it’s work -- but if it’s a newer batch it will be sweeter.

My other beer wasn’t that different when compared side to side. It was De Proef K-O. This one a Belgium Blonde Ale. It’s name is really there because it can knock you on your behind if you aren’t careful. It’s sweet and light and crisp and 10% ABV. You like the label? It was something that was found in our area up at Pike Place Market. It came from a defunct apple orchard but was revamped into what you see. K-O also is on the low end of the IBU scale coming in at 25 as well.
Once I had my beers it was time to pour, and I did, occasionally. The three ticket sale detoured many people but I had some regulars, a few I was able to persuade to try it (I feel a sales career coming on) and at the end of my shift before taps closed I had a number of people use up their tickets to try to get their drunk on with my high ABV beers.

Overall a very fun experience though if you do it I suggest trying to sign up with a friend. I chatted with the folks next to me and the customers but a friend would be fun. I also sadly didn’t plan and had too much going on during the weekend so I wasn’t able to go back and use the free tickets I earned for volunteering -- I hope the random couple on the street on Sunday afternoon had a taste for me though.

Fun Facts:
Did you know that Belgium is referred to as The City of Giants?

*For volunteering at the Fest we each got a free cup, T-shirt and 10 free tasting tickets -- but we didn’t get it until after our shift and we had no opportunity to taste the beer we were pouring before we started offering it up to people -- making it tough to answer people when they asked what it tasted like. My suggestion for improvement would be to offer tastings and/or more information about the beers to each volunteer.