(I apologize for not having any pictures, I was busy drinking and forgot to take any…)
So I did actually go to Beer Advocate’s “American Craft Beer Fest” last Saturday in Boston. I went to night session that happened to be the last session, and I had a lovely grand old time with my girlfriend and our friends. It’s weird that I haven’t written about a beer fest yet, since I’ve actually gone to all three Beer Advocate Boston fests… Oh well, I’m writing about it now.
Honestly, ACBF was probably my least favorite of the three Beer Advocate fests I attended this year. (Please see the paragraph after this if you think I sound like I am bitching… I am bitching, and am aware of that…) This isn’t saying it was bad by any measure, I just had more fun at the other two. For starters, the other two beer fests (Belgian and Extreme Beer Fest for those who don’t know) are at a smaller venue with less of a crowd, which helps to give a little more ‘warmth’ to the event. Less of a crowd also makes for shorter lines that move far quicker than the lines found at ACBF. At ACBF there was a constant and humungous line for breweries like Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Trillium Ales, and Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project (who I adore but was unable to taste L), which makes sense since these breweries are all amazing/said to be amazing, it just sucks because if you want to visit all of them you have to spend half of your fest waiting around in line. On the other side of that, this does force you to try the smaller breweries, which is awesome, but it still sucks when you want to try those breweries with larger lines. My other problem with ACBF (this will probably sound more whiney and obnoxious, just to let you know) was that it was just too big of a fest. There were over 600 beers being poured, which means it is humanly impossible to drink them all before the end of the session. While the other two fests still have sizable beer lists (and sizeable ABV/beer…) they are mostly do-able by the end of the session. I have this horrible problem of wanting to try every single beer in creation, and I really hate passing up breweries just because I don’t have the time or the liver to drink them…
That all being said/bitched, ACBF was one hell of a fest, was superbly run and organized, and was a lot of fun. All of my complaints are minor in the grand scheme of things, and I had a great time at the fest, I just like to bitch and moan, and I also am writing a review blog so I figure I should speak the truth. I loved sampling all the smaller breweries and the selection was superb.
I’ve found more and more at beer fests that my favorites are rarely the beers I expect them to be, and are often times simple and/or sessionable beers. This fest proved to be no different, and here is a shortlist of my favorites:
Best of the Night:
Scratch 58 – Triple Mango IPA (Tröegs Brewing Company)
This was the first beer I tried that night, because I wanted to try it with a clean palate. I actually tried to brew a mango IPA last year, and I was originally taking this IPA’s recipe as my guide. I ended up going for something closer to a 60 Minute IPA with mangoes added, but this beer has always fascinated me and I was glad to try it. Fresh juicy mango blends perfectly with tropical hops and lovely bitterness, creating a tasty treat on the mouth.
Julius (Tree House Brewing Company) – An IPA
This is the beer that everyone that went to ACBF is raving about, and rightly so. The purity and crispness of this beer was evident in tasting it, even after all the other beers I had had before trying it. This beer featured a beautiful amount of hops and a strong dry finish that made it hugely drinkable. On top of that, Tree House’s other offerings were equally as clean and amazing on the tongue. This beer was the best, however, and had me thinking of Hill Farmstead and the purity and crispness that can be found in their beers. Watch out for this brewery as they are certainly on the rise.
Spicy Bohemian (Throwback Brewery) – A Bohemian Pilsner dry-hopped with roasted Jalapenos peppers added
This brewery is local to me, and it is a shame I haven’t visited them yet. They also had a killer peanut butter stout at Extreme Beer Fest, which I loved, but this fest was all about the summer beer, and the Spicy Bohemian beer screamed crisp summer. It was clean and refreshing like a pilsner should be, but it had the wonderful fleshy flavor of spicy peppers in it that left a beautiful zest on the tongue. This is probably the best pepper beer I have ever tried.
Kvasnicové (Notch Brewing) – A hoppy Czech Lager on gravity pour
This was the second beer I tried at the fest, and though I was sad that the Brett Saison they had plan to tap was not available (the lady pouring said it had not seemed right as they tapped it) I was quickly cured of this problem by this brilliant gravity pour version of their Pils beer. It was crisp, complex, flavorful and I remember thoroughly enjoying it… Unfortunately the only thing I remember about flavor was the thought “Grassy Lemons,” but that was a good thing!
Odio Equum (Avery Brewing Company) – A Wild Red Ale with raspberries aged in first-use Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
This was the sour gem of the night with rich and decadent acidity playing with the tart fruity character of the raspberries and some nice balancing from the malt of the beer and from the lovely brett character in the beer. I wish they would send bottles of this somewhere near me as I would love to have this beer on hand for special occasions or casual sipping.
Kosmic Mother Funk (The Boston Beer Company) – An American Wild Ale
I haven’t heard the best things about this beer, but I was quite impressed when I sampled it. Rich balanced wildness moving from tart to funky and back again. This is a great beer to use as the base for wild ales and I can’t wait to sample more of Boston Beer Company’s wild offerings.
Other Memorable Beers:
Hooligan Amber Ale (Bentley Brewing Company)
Honey Comb (Burley Oak Brewing Company) – a Barrel Fermented Belgian Pale Ale
Olde London Stout (Martha’s Exchange Brewing Company)
Copper (Olde Mecklenburg Brewery) – An Altbier
Intergalactic Acid (The Tap Brewing Company) – a straight Berliner Weisse
Marionberry Hibiscus Gose (Widmer Brothers Brewing)
Triple Reserve (Night Shift Brewing) – a Belgian Style Tripel fermented with Pinot Gris grape juice and aged in white wine oak barrels