Saturday, June 1, 2013

:: american craft beer fest ::

Last night, we went to the American Craft Beer Fest at the Seaport World Trade Center here in Boston. You can read my top picks from last year here, and some of those breweries I honed in on again to try their newest offerings. And through word of mouth (as well as curiosity), I tried a bunch of new breweries too. Unfortunately, it was only a subset of the 141, but over the years, I have tried at least 85 of those breweries, and some of that count was last night. Like last year, I sort of stuck with Belgian-style, sour, saison, and dark beer themes, but I also branched out more into the IPA realm this year as my hops aversion has subsided. Here were some of the top finds:

Port City Brewing (VA) @portcitybrew - Monumental IPA. One of the tips I received was to check these guys out for their IPAs. Of the two, I much preferred the Monumental which was floral with hints of grapefruit and citrus notes. The Maniacal Double IPA was solid with more creamy and caramel notes.
Burley Oak Brewery (MD) @burleyoak - Honey Comb. Burley Oak and this beer was another tip I received. When the brewery ran out of fermenter space, they decided to purchase some old whiskey barrels and barrel-ferment this beer. Definitely had some character to it with a light funkiness.
DC Brau Brewing Co. (Wash DC) @dcbrau - Yonder Cities. Their website describes it as a collaboration with Union Craft Brewing (MD) @unionbrewing; this Farmhouse or Belgian-style IPA had floral, fruit, earthy, and slight funkiness to it. I did enjoy their On the Wings of Armageddon which they crafted for the Mayan calendar end and developed a single-hopped double IPA with a great grapefruity signature.
Mystic Brewery (MA) @mysticbrewery - Entropy. While I was not focusing on barley wines, the fact that this one spent many months sitting on sherry yeast lees as well as seeing other yeasts before and after attracted me. It was definitely loaded with yeast notes as well as the more classical barley wine flavors of being caramel and high proof; the beautiful fruity esters were different and enjoyable though. Their Welkin Ringer was released this week, and this extra special bitter had a good caramel and bitterness with slight grapefruit notes.
Idle Hands (MA) @idlehandsbeer - Pandora. Listed as a Belgian-style pale ale, it had an elegant floral, grapefruit, and spice character to it. I was also impressed by the D'aison, a dark saison with rich caramel notes which altered the way I normally think of saisons. They released it as a one-off last year, and it was so good that they put it out again in April as a Spring seasonal.
NoDa Brewing Co. (NC) @nodabrewing - Word to Your Mother. A collaboration they did with Mother Earth Brewing (NC) @motherearthbrew for North Carolina Beer Week. The apricot in this red saison really came through, although the cardamom was not as obvious for me.
Night Shift Brewing (MA) @nightshiftbeer - Honeydew. Since I'm on the topic of beers brewed with fruit, I should tip my hat to Night Shift for their warm weather seasonal that they just released in April. The slight funkiness of the farmhouse ale was elegantly balanced by the melon notes. So much better than what I expected when I first read the beer name on the board as "Honey chew."
Green Flash Brewing Co. (CA) @greenflashbeer - Saison Diego. Green Flash is well known for their IPAs, so I focused in on their other offerings. This saison was funky and lemony, while the Grand Cru was a dark abbey-style with great chocolate notes.
Lawson's Finest Liquids (VT) - Double Sunshine IPA. I felt bad when I commented to my friend that this was a Heady Topper clone upon my first sip, but he replied that it isn't a bad thing to be similar to a BeerAdvocate 100-score beer; then I learned that Vermont IPA is apparently a recognized style. Very solid with great cleansing grapefruity hops notes.
Trillium Brewing Co. (MA) @trilliumbrewing - Bug Valley. A beer that sees time in first-fill Petite Syrah wine barrels with a bacterial "bug" blend, it came across with great sour, wine, and cleansing tartness aspects. They re-used the barrels for the Lineage Rye which I also tried. Previously, I rather enjoyed the Trillium saison that I had back in April when a keg appeared at VeeVee in Jamaica Plain.
Tree House Brewing Co. (MA) @treehousebrewco - Space & Time. Released in April, this offering was not even in the booklet; dark fruits, molasses, and coffee flavors produced a stunning effect.
Watch City Brewing Co. (MA) @hopsexplosion - Weiss Weiss Baby. A Berliner Weissbier brewed with lavender? I was curious and it impressed me. Since their website describes it as being named "after that notorious 80's one-hit wonder, Vanilla Ice," perhaps this was a one-off experiment.
Portico Brewing Co. (MA) @porticobrewing - Chroma. Brewed out of Watch City is Portico which I discovered after ordering the Sett Seven at Trina's Starlite Lounge; I enjoyed that one a lot despite not preferring Scotch ales. This one, the Chroma, had pleasing caramel and rye spice.
Uinta Brewing Co. (UT) @uintabrewing - Hop Notch IPA. A solid IPA in a sort of West Coast-style with grapefruit, pine, and resin notes.

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