This past weekend I attended the final session of the American Craft Beer Festival (ACBF) in Boston. I forgot to take pictures though, so anyone interested is going to have to suffer through a text based post… I am sorry.
It was my second time attending ACBF, and my complaints from my first time around still hold true: There were just too many people there. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely time and the organizers did a fine job of running the event. The issue, for me, was that every brewery I wanted to visit had a five to ten minute line on it. I suppose it’s a bit stupid for me to complain about good breweries having lines, but from my experiences at other festivals (including other Beer Advocate festivals) I’ve come to expect quick lines and easy traffic flow within the festival. Unfortunately, the World Trade Center (where the festival was held) is just a massive building and can hold quite a few folks within it, which is exactly why Beer Advocate has started renting the building for festivals. ACBF is lauded as the largest beer fest on the east coast, which is great, I just wish there was a way to add in another day or something, just so that the crowds could be spread out a little thinner.
Of course, this is just me bitching about an event that really was quite fun and allowed me to try a plethora of new beers, so take my complaints with a grain of salt. The slow moving lines are really all that bothered me at the festival, and other than that I had a lovely time and tried some great beers.
I suppose you folks have been reading this post to hear about the beers, so, without further ado, here’s my Best of the Fest List:
Lineage Rye (Trillium Brewing Company)
This was the best for me. Trillium was one of those breweries with a massive line, but the wait was well worth it. The beer was a wild saison brewed with local malthouse Valley Malt’s Rye and fermented with Trillium’s house saison strain, and then with their house bug culture, and then laid down in oak barrels for a year. The beer was clean, crisp, and wonderfully complex, blending rustic funk with subtle oak tannin, smooth rye spice, and soft lactic tartness. The beer went down smoothly but was begging to be savored. It was a real treat.
Double Duckpin (Union Craft Brewing)
This DIPA came from the new-to-me Union Craft Brewing out of Baltimore, and really caught me by surprise. I had never even heard of the brewery, but my girlfriend’s brother picked up a sample of the Double Duckpin and gave me a sip and I was hooked. At that point in the fest I had already had some pretty aggressive and impressive DIPA’s, but Double Duckpin still stood out on my palate as crisp, fresh, and superbly hoppy. I can’t wait to try more of what Union has to offer!
YAHHHRRRGGG! (Tree House Brewing Company and Lawson’s Finest Liquids)
This was the only DIPA to surpass Double Duckpin for me, which seems fair given the breweries that teamed up to make it. YAHHHRRGGG! Tasted unbelievably fresh, juicy with hops, and full of a bitter bite. It was a delight to drink.
Gose (Lost Nation Brewing Company)
All of this Vermont Brewery’s offerings had me impressed, but this was the one that took the cake. I took a sample from the bottle, which the brewery said had gained higher, “champagne-like” carbonation. The beer was unbelievably refreshing with a perfect effervescent carbonation and a beautiful, complex layering of earthy salt, coriander, and popping lactic tartness. I have got to get myself a bottle of this.
Strawberry Shandy (Westfield River Brewing Company)
This one caught me completely off guard. I had never heard of the brewery from Westfield, MA and I am not really a fan of shandies at all. This beer, however, won me over with its unbelievably jammy and fresh strawberry character. To my fest-fatigued tongue, this tasted not like fake, sugary strawberry candies, but like fresh from the patch strawberries. The beer character was obviously light, but provided a soft wheat base to the beer that made it quite enjoyable. On top of this, the other fruit beers from this brewery also tasted quite nice and fresh. I will have to try these beers on a fresh palate and get back to all of you, but color me impressed.
Cherry Barrel-Aged Berliner Braun (Jack’s Abby Brewing Company)
This beer was lightyears ahead of its non-barrel aged counterpart with delicious, light bourbon and barrel notes blending seamlessly into rich, tart cherry pie and popping lactic tartness. The beer was decadent and refreshing, while carrying a thicker complexity that had me impressed. This was a damn good beer, and another success from Jack’s Abby.