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One Hop, One Malt, All Party

The 2016 SMaSH Fest caps off Bend's beer week



So! How's Central Oregon Beer Week been going so far, Bend beerhounds? Been enjoying all the special tastings at Broken Top Bottle Shop? Tried COBW IWA, the hoppy wheat ale from Sunriver Brewing that's the official beer of the event? Wondering how effective Ibuprofen really is as a hangover preventative? Well, look out, because there's one more major event to show up for—the 2016 SMaSH Fest, kicking off at the O'Kane's back-side bar at McMenamins Old St. Francis School on Saturday.

One of the only events of its kind in the US, the SMaSH Fest is all about "single malt and single hop" beers. "The idea," says COBW co-manager Carlos Perez, "is to break brewing down to its basic elements and emphasize the flavor of a single malt and single hop variety, letting both the brewer and you understand what each bring to the beer."

Given the nature of recipes like these, the SMaSH approach works best for lighter, more delicate beer varieties, such as pilsner, lager, and IPA. There's still plenty of room for variety however: Just look at Bend Brewing Company, which will be living large at this year's fest with a sour ale. Razz Tafari, which debuted at BBC's 21st-anniversary block party in April, features a combination of the brewery's house Lactobacillus yeast strain with Oregon raspberries, fresh lemongrass and citrus zest. It's an eminently sessionable sour, and it's guaranteed to make you rethink what talented brewers can accomplish with the SMaSH format.

Save room, though, because the other 20 breweries attending the fest are also bringing their A games. McMenamins' own 7 of a Kind ale uses a brand new hop variety from Idaho that gives the northwest-style pale a fresh citrus kick. Redmond's Juniper Brewing opts instead for Jarrylo hops, producing a biscuit-y pale ale with banana and pear notes. Lastly, Sunriver, which won the People's Choice award at last year's fest, is trying again with a new hop from Yakima and some Scottish spring barley for the 7.8 percent-Golden Goat. Simple really is best sometimes.

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