Ultimate Guide to the Malt Ball

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The Portland Mercury’s Malt Ball festival combines craft beer and local indie bands and returns for its 2nd year this Saturday, February 2nd, at the Wonder Ballroom. Last year’s fest was interesting if not a bit hectic, and clustered in the Bossanova Ballroom. Here is hoping the larger Wonder will allow for an even better show. Among the many, many Oregon breweries that will have beer at the Malt Ball, 12 of them will have new beers made in collaboration with bands they were paired up with. I tracked down the various brewers to get descriptions of all these new brews and how they came about.

Before I get into the special beers, what you really need to know is that you have to buy tickets to either the first or the second band showcases. There is either the 2-7pm slot or the 7pm – Midnight slot. However, here is the problem: both of those tickets cost $15 and include just 4 beer tickets. Not that I am saying that is a bad deal–not at all–but last year you were limited to just those 4 tickets and you could not buy more, and as far as I can tell this holds true again this year. To avoid this lameness, I suggest you purchase the All-Day Pass for $25 that includes 8 tickets. Seeing as how you’re a reader of this blog, you probably want to try all these new beers. You still may not be able to with the all-day pass, but you will get a lot closer and it’s more for your money. Also seeing as how you’re a smart reader, you will also buy your tickets in advance at: http://maltball.strangertickets.com/events/6873149/malt-ball

Now here are the special collaboration beers:

Fort George Brewing + And And And: Can Can Can
It is Northwest Pale Ale brewed with Honey Malt and Rye, hopped with Simcoe, Centennial and Meridian.  It’s coming in right about 5.8% 

Old Market Pub & Brewing + Minden: PaPa Cherry
Cherry Lambic Kriek style. A base beer is an Imperial Wheat that was aged in Pinot barrels for almost 3 years, it got very lactic, it was moved into stainless and aged on local cherries for another year. Tart, dry, effervescent, pink head. 10% Abv and drinkable. Almost like a Rose or Pinot Gris


Gigantic + Sons of Huns:  Kiss the Goat!
A Black Bock. The name comes from the “Satanic Mass” at the end of the original devil rock band Coven’s first album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls. 17 Plato  6.66% ABV  35 ibu

The Commons + Wooden Indian Burial Ground
A slight variation of the Commons Fresh Hop beer they brewed last harvest (no fresh hops of course). Brewers created a sour wort (not sour mash) then complete the brewing process as normal. The result is a dry, tart amber ale that expresses the many esters from their farmhouse yeast topped with a healthy dose of Meridian hops. Should be tasty. 

McMenamins Crystal Brewery + Divers: Getaway Hefeweizen
Bavarian Hefeweizen infused with Key lime juice and mandarin orange. It is 5.2%abv.

Portland-U-Brew + Gaytheist: Gaytheist’s Pink Pale Ale
Gaytheist was the last band to get paired with a brewery. Aaron Gillham of U-Brew says “We brewed with Lord Dying last year, and we love metal so it seemed like another great band to team up with. They came in and said they wanted something light and drinkable since they usually drank macro beer. No problem. It’s a 60%/30% Barley/Wheat ratio to keep it pretty clean and low in color. Just Cascade and Amarillo hops so it’s easy drinking, but flavorful as well.”
Pink Pale Ale is fermented with a blend of Wyeast’s 1056 American Ale and 1007 German Ale for a cleaner yeast profile with just a bit of that sulfur character from the lagers they were used to drinking. “I asked if there was anything else they wanted to add and “Rainbows” were brought up, but we were unable to find them on such short notice. Their next request was to make it pink, and I said “Perfect!”. A little bit of cherry did the trick, and hopefully the foam in the glass will be pink too.”

Lompoc + Marty Marquis (of Blitzen Trapper): Creekwalker Pale Ae
“Marty and I sat down and met over lunch at 5Q.  We talked about beer, music and how we both ended up in Portland” as told by Lompoc Head Brewer Bryan Keilty, “ We then moved over to Side Bar and tasted different beers.  “Marty is a big fan of hops so we were thinking definitely something with a hoppy aroma.  We both wanted it took to be lower in alcohol and bitterness, and a lighter color.  We decided on a Pale Ale using Santiam and Willamette hops.” Lompoc will also be dry-hopping the kegs with Santiam’s for a week before the fest.

Omission Beer + Radiation City: Omission IPA
Omission IPA is an assertive yet balanced gluten-free IPA dry hopped with Cascade and Summit hops. The Omission IPA poured at the Malt Ball is a test batch of the brew Widmer is planning to release only in Oregon in early April. The beer comes in at 65 IBUs and 6.7% ABV. 

Hopworks and Caleb Klauder: Caleb’s Country Kolsch from Hopworks Brewery on Vimeo.

Hopworks + Caleb Klauder Country Band: Caleb’s Country Kolsch
HUB brewers deconstructed some musical instruments (fiddles) made from maple and added them to the Kolsch for aging. So it’s literally a beer made with music instruments.

Double Mountain + Old Light: Project 48 Double IPA
On New Year’s Day, 2013, Double Mountain brewed this beast to set the mood right for 2013. We’ve decided it’s a gold year, as the beer is hopped with Brewers’ Gold and Goldings from Yakima six times throughout the brewing process. That nice orangy/melon citrus balances with a blend of German and British Malts to provide all the love we need for this year. Why Project 48? Because Matt turns 24 in a couple days. 7.9% ABV, 85 IBU.

Gilgamesh Brewing + Street Nights: Street Treat Night Beat

“We brewed with Street Nights. They were pretty cool dudes,” said founding Gigamesh family member Michael Radtke. He continued “Their music seemed like your typical NW soft rock genre. I figured that a session IPA would be a perfect combination with this band.” Brewed using Millenium hops for bittering, Warriors for flavor and a combo of Warrior and Galena’s for finishing and a dry-hop addition. For the malt bill they used the standard 2-row but with a small dose of Vienna and another of Dextra-pils for a nice golden body. “Trying a little out of the fermenter the other day, I picked up definite citrus notes and a few spicey notes” noted Michael.Approximately 60 IBU’s  5.25% ABV.
Coalition Brewing + Hausu: Freeslide (dark rye ale, 5.4% ABV)

Here is a List of all of the Breweries and Beers:

Alameda Brewing-Double Deuce Imperial Ale
Base Camp Brewing-In-Tents India Pale Lager
Breakside Brewery-Woodlawn Pale Ale
Bridgeport Brewing-Smooth Ryed NW Rye Ale
Burnside Brewing-
Coalition Brewing-Freeslide Dark Rye
Deschutes Brewery-Andromeda Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Crux Fermentation Project-
Double Mountain Brewery-Project 48 Double IPA
Fort George Brewery-Can Can Can NW Pale Ale
Full Sail Brewing-Nut Brown Ale
Gigantic Brewing-Kiss the Goat Black Bock
Gilgamesh Brewing-Streat Treat Night Beat Session IPA
Hopworks Urban Brewery-Caleb’s Country Kolsch-style Ale
Lompoc Brewing T/K Pale Ale
McMenamins Crystal Brewery-Getaway Hefeweizen Citrus Bavarian Hefeweizen
Migration Brewing-Black Hearted Black IPA
Oakshire Brewing Watershed IPA
Old Market Pub&Brewery-Papa Cherry Imperial Wheat Sour Kriek
Omission Beer-Omission IPA Gluten-free IPA
Ninkasi Brewing-Redonkulous Bavarian Dunkel Weiss
Portland Brewing – Rose Hip Gold Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Portland U-Brew&Pub-Gaytheist’s Pink Pentagram Pale Ale
Solera Brewery-Hank is Dank West Coast IPA
The Commons Brewery-Myrtle Tart Farmhouse Ale
Widmer Brothers Brewing-Imperial Cascadian Dark Rye Ale Imperial O’Ryely Dark

Here is a List of the Band Schedule:
First Set-First Showcase 2pm-7pm

2:15 Street Nights
3:00 Minden
3:45 Marty Marquis
4:30 Hausu
5:15 Old Light
6:00 Caleb Klauder Country Band

Second Showcase 7:30pm-Midnight

7:30 Divers
8:15 Wooden Indian Burial Ground
9:00 Gaytheist
9:45 And And And
10:30 Sons of Huns
11:15 Radiation City

Malt Ball
Wonder Ballroom
128 NE Russell St
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 284-8686
21+ only
$15 advance for Session 1-includes mug and 4 drink tickets
$15 advance for Session 2-includes mug and 4 drink tickets
$25 for both sessions includes a mug and 8 drink tickets.

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com


  1. Anonymous

    January 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Small edit error: You mention both “Melody” Ballroom and “Wonder” Ballroom as the venues early on in the article.

    But sounds like a great event!

    • ElGordo

      January 31, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      Thanks for the note. Fixed!

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