American Craft Beer Festival, Boston MA

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wow that was a lot of beer.

The first session of the American Craft Beer Fest on Saturday, June 20th is a day that will live in infamy. 75 brewers, over 300 beers, and more people than could possibly be counted converged on the World Trade Center Seaport in Boston, MA to further evangelize the good word of beer.

My traveling companions and I were worried, due to the fact that we arrived an hour late. We knew that every minute spent stuck in traffic was another keg of rare, unusual, and just plain awesome beer going into someone elses glass. However when we arrived we were greeted with a line that wrapped around a good portion of the building. Luckily the logistics were expertly planned by our hosts from Beer Advocate, and the line moved at light speed.

The hall was enormous, and stretched out before us were beers we've had before and loved, beers we've had before and hated, some we've never heard of, and some that have only been whispered in dark corners in hushed and reverent tones. We had our work cut out.

So here are some of the standouts:

Brooklyn Brewing: Cuvee de Cardoz (Belgian-style Wheat Beer w/ ginger, tamarind, mace, black pepper, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, chilies, and toasted coconut / 8.0%). For all the stuff they put in there, it actually came out to be a balanced, very pleasant beer.

Great Divide: Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (9.5%), which some of my companions weren't a fan of, but I thought was good and drinkable. It had plenty of that chocolate flavor without turning into a milkshake.

Haverhill: Ascension (Belgian IPA / 7.25%). Belgian IPA is a style that many brewers do wrong. Either the American brewers do a crappy job with the belgian part, or the Belgian brewers do a crappy job with the hopping. This was a nice departure, and shows where this new style can go.

New Holland Brewing: Dragon's Milk 2006 (Vintage Oak Aged Ale / 9.0%), was like drinking pure joy. Also their Existential (Hop Wine / 10.0%), was super floral and despite a little bite from the alcohol, quaffable.

Speakeasy Ales and Lagers: Anything they had was awesome. Very dissapointed we can't get them here on the East Coast.

Stone Brewing: Double Dry Hopped Ruination IPA (7.7%) was as solid as solid can be, I always look forward to Stone beers.

Surly Brewing: The CynicAle (Saison / 6.6%), and the Furious (India Pale Ale / 6.6%), were my picks from these guys, I'll look for them on the shelf the next time I go to the bottle shop.

Terrapin Brewing: I always love Terrapin, and their Rye Squared (Double Pale Ale / 9.5%) didn't dissapoint.

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project: These guys were the stars in my book. They were already out of two of their beers by the time we got to them, but the Jack D'Or (Saison Americain / 6.5%) and Saint Botolph's Town (Northern English Brown / 5.9%) were simply incredible. I went out the next day and bought everything they make. I'll be reviewing the Baby Tree (Abbey Quadrupel w/ dried plums / 8.7%) and the Confounded Mister Sisyphus (Saison w/ Balaton cherries / 7.0%) in the coming week.