Saturday, July 13, 2013

:: summerfest - a celebration of farmhouse ale ::

Last night, I went to session 1 of Drink[Craft]Beer's Summerfest, a celebration of farmhouse ale. The festival featured 25 New England-based breweries who were presenting farmhouse ales, saisons, and summer beers, and some of the breweries brought an additional beer or two that fell out of that general range. One great aspect was the size of the event; with 25 breweries, I was able to hit them all throughout the night and there was little rush. Another was the proper ticket sales for the venue such that it was not hard to navigate and lines were rather short. Therefore, I spent more time talking to brewers and the staff, and less time waiting or being in a rush to see more booths. Finally, many of the brewers crafted a beer especially for the event; in fact, I had to create 7 new entries to the Untappd database last night from what I tasted. To see the complete list of what I drank, check out the Untappd mobile and web app (username: CocktailVirgin).
One of the things I was excited about was the fact that 3 of the booths were cideries, and while they had some more traditional offerings, they each brought something unique. Here were my favorites:
Bantam Cider (MA) @BantamCider - Smokey Saison. While I did try their delightful Wunderkind, it was their smoked cider that grabbed me. Great farmhouse cider notes crossed with a Scotch whisky-like wood smoke; it reminded me of how well apple brandy pairs with Scotch in cocktails except at a lower proof of 6% ABV.
Downeast Cider House (ME) @DowneastCider - Antoine Dod-saison. I love their Original Blend that we carry at work (and we sell a lot of it), but their cider saison was what I was looking forward to all week. A dry cider with a bit of funk and spice from the fermentation that was indeed worth the wait!
Urban Farm Fermentory (ME) @Fermentory - Sour Cidah. I regret not trying Urban Farm's kombucha that they had in a few flavors, but I am glad that I tried their spontaneously fermented cider. My notes read, "Crisp sour, apple cider vinegar notes, probably amazing with food."
For beers, here is a motley collection of interesting ones that I tried:
Trillium Brewing Co. (MA) @TrilliumBrewing - Wakerobin. I spoke about Trillium in my post on the American Craft Beer Fest in June, and they only repeated their flagship farmhouse ale. The Little Rooster American pale ale made with rye and wheat was rather good, but the Wakerobin, a hopped up red rye farmhouse ale, was the winner with its pine, earthiness, and rye spice.
Foolproof Brewing Co. (RI) @FoolproofBrew - La Ferme Urbaine Farmhouse Ale. Most of Foolproof's beers are straight forward, such as their Backyahd IPA that I tried, but the farmhouse that they made had gorgeous peppery, light funk, and drying hop notes at the end.
Cambridge Brewing Co. (MA) @CambridgeBrewer - Jack Straw. I did enjoy their Belgian-style saison, Bachelor's Buttons, though it was the all Brettanomyces blond ale, Jack Straw, that caught my attention. My tasting notes read, "Tart lemon, tropical fruit, green apple."
Battle Road Brewing Co. (MA) @BattleRoadBeer - Barrett's Farmhouse Ale. Their Belgian-style saison was delightful with lemon, grain-straw, and earthy-pine notes.
Notch Brewing (MA) @NotchBrewing - Notch Brett Saison. I didn't try their Session Pils since I pour it heavily 5 days a week for guests where I work and know it quite well. I did try the Notch Saison and returned at 8pm for the tapping of their Brett Saison. My tasting notes for the brett read, "Crisp, sour, vinegar, refreshing. Lemon and grain. Like their Pils without hygiene [in a good way]."
Night Shift Brewing (MA) @NightShiftBeer - Arnie. I have mentioned these guys in my writeups about the 2012 and 2013 ACBF events, and this time they brought some new brews. Their Arnie is accurately described on their webpage as, "Pretty much a funky beer version of the Arnold Palmer, Arnie's a saison with meyer lemon zest and juice, aged in white wine barrels, blended with Kombucha from Portland's Urban Farm Fermentory. It's tangy, tart, refreshing and delicious, and we hope to share it with you at the fest!" So I guess I did get to try Urban Farm's kombucha after all...
Allagash Brewing Co. (ME) @AllagashBrewing - Saison Rye. Allagash White is one that I pour all day long at work and I had tried their Curieux before, so I honed in on the rye. I described it as, "More sour and funky than the White. Similar soft touch."
Portico Brewing Co. (MA) @porticobrewing - Saison Charette. I quite enjoyed the Fuzzy Logic weiss-kolsch, but their Belgian-style saison aged on chamomile caught my attention. Floral aroma, anise-licorice notes on the swallow, and a chamomile finish.
Rising Tide Brewing Co. (ME) @RisingTideBeer - Lyra. We have their Ursa Major in large format and the Ishmael on draft at work, and I increased my breadth by trying the SuSpense rye saison and the Lyra, a saison aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Lyra's earthy and pine notes went well with the wine undertones here.
RiverWalk Brewing Co. (MA) @RiverwalkBeer - Charon. What caught me more than their Gnomad American farmhouse ale was the Charon, a dark saison with star anise that came across almost like a cocktail with delightful dark roast and anise notes.
Wormtown Brewery (MA) @WormtownBrewery - ALS Farmhouse Fundraiser. The corriander spice notes were so tasty in this that I inquired how the beer was made. The brewer commented that no spices were used, for it was their yeast giving this beer all that character.

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