30 September 2010

Beer Diary: here, there, and everywhere

I guess it has been a pretty good week: I've been able to stop by three different Indiana breweries and enjoy their brews. First up is Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery in Kokomo. This is actually my first visit to Half Moon, so I purchased a $9.99 beer sampler and tried all six of John Templet's regular taps and his three specialty taps.

Currently on tap: Cannon Shot Cream Ale, which is a pleasant, sweet, malty treat; Wildcat Wheat, with a light and slightly sweet flavor; Stoplight City Red, which is easy on hops but not absent of; Elwood's IPA, which packs a strong punch of bitters to the back of the throat while maintaining a nice, easy citrus flavor; Cole Porter, a black beer that has a flavor with a bite (are the malts smoked in their smoker?); seasonal Raz Rye, where the bite of the rye cuts through the sweet tart raspberries; seasonal KokoMonster, which the bartender couldn't tell me what style it was (Old Ale), but I knew at 8% it went down too easy; and the oddly named seasonal MILF-n-honey which is a very sweet wheat.

My favorite of their beers, though, is the regular Hazelnut Brown Ale. It has a beautiful nutty aroma, is cloudy brown, and has a strong hazelnut flavor and an almost coffee-like flavor. Which would make this beer perfect for the morning!

I also stopped by The Ram Restaurant and Brewery in downtown Indianapolis. While there, I had Andrew Castner's Pie'd Piper Pumpkin Ale. I have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin beers. If it tastes like pumpkin pie, I love it. If it tastes like just pumpkin, I hate it.

Hey Andrew: I love it!

I haven't had my fix of Schlafly's Pumpkin Ale yet (just got hooked up by my beer pimp), but it is the standard that I measure all other pumpkin beers. And this one is pretty close. It has a nice amount of spice, pumpkin flavor, and breadiness to give you the feel of pumpkin pie without going over the top and tasty like a $6 Starbucks seasonal coffee. Put simply: near perfect. So good, I had a second glass instead of trying one of the other seasonals.

I finish by mentioning that I had a sneak sip of Sun King's Big H Hefeweizen. I'm not a big fan of wheats and hefe's. I got a lot of bananas but little clove. I'm not big on bananas and I'm not big on hefeweizens, so it should be no surprise that I'm not big on this beer.

But I was trying this beer with Mike, who is a hefeweizen fan, and he said it was "spot on". So if you like hefe's, give this one a shot (I could have left this for Mike to say, but I'm guessing he doesn't have a beer diary coming up soon).

Beer and Chocolate - what could possibly be better?

We are proud to announce a beer and chocolate tasting event!  We'll pair 6 beers with truffles from the Best Chocolate in Town.  The event will be at the wonderfully awesome Ball & Biscuit.  Get your tickets quick, as the event is limited to just 25 people.

When: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Where: Ball & Biscuit, 331 Massachusetts Avenue
Time: 6:30 pm

Tickets are just $15 (cash or check, please) and only available at the Best Chocolate in Town.  Proceeds from this event will be donated to Second Helpings.

29 September 2010

Yelp Elite Event at Chef JJ's

Chances are, you're probably familiar with Yelp.  Yelp is one of the most prolific restaurant review sites on the internet, spanning a broad range of cities and business types.  Even if you haven't posted a review on it, you've probably read one.  Yelp has a special designation for its top reviewers in each area, and that is "Yelp Elite."  As we recently found out, Yelp hosts events for their Yelp Elite in each city, designed to both encourage people to become top reviewers, and to expose these review powerhouses to local businesses that they may not have otherwise experienced.  The first such event in Indy was held at the Ball and Biscuit.  The second event was recently held at Chef JJ's Backyard.  These events aren't open to the public, but Yelp Ambassador Jon Akerman invited a few members of HBG to the Chef JJ event to share with our readers what these Yelp Elite events are all about.

Over here at Hoosier Beer Geek, we've shared a number of different Chef JJ's Backyard events with you.  Hey, there's even a couple Sun King brewer's dinners coming up in November.  In case you're new to the Chef JJ experience, the entire concept is that all of the food is prepared on Big Green Eggs - magical ceramic grills/ovens.  The Yelp Elite event was part educational and part small plate beer pairing.  We heard after the event that at least one Yelp Elite member was so impressed by the Big Green Egg experience, he bought one that night!  Here's a sample of the plates and beer pairings we experienced.

Food: Grilled Bread Trio - "chewy and crunchy" grilled baguette rubbed with Artisano's blood orange, chipotle and basil olive oils.

Beer: Sunlight Cream Ale

Summary: The bread was topped with a watermelon and cabbage slaw that helped lighten the oiled breads. Sunlight was light enough to not take away from the flavored oils and helped cleanse the oil from the palate. Of the three oils, blood orange was probably the strongest flavored and worked best with the slaw.

Food: Vegan Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

Beer: Wee Mac Scottish Ale

Summary: A very hearty stew made even more unique by the different stages of grill preparation it underwent. Wee Mac picked up a lot of nutty characteristics with from the squash and imparted a complimentary flavor.

Food: Gorgonzola Potatoes with Grilled Steak from Goose the Market

Beer: Osiris Pale Ale

Summary: The smoked and then grilled steak was incredibly well seasoned with a dash of Worcestershire. The blue cheese in the potatoes and the salty smoked meat both helped bring out a more dominate malt character in the beer, while the hops worked in the opposite direction to cleanse the palate (as they tend to do).

Food: Salted Caramel Brownies

Beer: Big H Hefeweizen

Summary: This was a fun deconstructed s'more. Big banana flavors in the beer created a new flavor experience of chocolate covered banana.

It was a lot of fun to see so many adventurous people together trying a new experience at the Backyard Grill. If you're interesting in participating in future Yelp Elite events, the only way to do so is to post a ton of well written reviews - so get Yelping!

24 September 2010

Random Beer Roundup - The Oktoberfest Edition

Congratulations to the 3 breweries who brought home four medals from last weekend's Great American Beer Festival!  Sun King won 2 medals, one for their Dominator Dopplebock and the other for Golden Slumber.  Three Floyds took one home for Munsterfest.  Liz from Rock Bottom College Park won for her Naked Oatmeal Stout.

Thanks to those that attended our Beer and Cheese event at Goose the Market on Monday. What's up next? Did someone say Beer and Chocolate?  

If there is something coming up that is not listed, we would love to hear about it. News, reviews, info, etc., to share for our next Random Beer Roundup can be submitted to hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com. Don't see your favorite craft beer establishment? Let them know you'd like to see them here! Work for an establishment that serves craft beer? We want to hear from you too!

Hoosier Beer Calendar
Events are subject to change

What's Brewing

From Dan at Great Crescent Brewery in Aurora:
We have a few updates this time around - details for all these items can be found on our website, www.gcbeer.com.

Coconut Porter was packed on Saturday September 18 and is available at the brewery and on-draft at Bourbon's Bar and Grill in Downtown Lawrenceburg, IN. It can also be found at the local Aurora/Lawrenceburg area retailers listed on our website.

Power House Brewing Company from Columbus, IN and Great Crescent Brewery of Aurora, IN teamed-up to brew a collaborative beer - Belgian Dubbel. Indiana honey was used in place of the Belgian candy sugar. This beer should be ready by the end of October.

The Great Crescent Brewery will be hosting 2 events in October: 
October 2 we will be open from 10am to 10 pm with beer available by the glass - IPA, Coconut Porter, Dark Lager, and Blonde Ale will be available for $3/pint. We will also have pulled pork sandwiches/chips and soft drinks. We have an area in the warehouse set up with our 1933 (repeal of Prohibition) bar set up with inside seating.

October 29 and 30 we will host an event for Main Street Aurora - "6th Annual Horror, History and Hauntings" starting at 6 pm in the Great Crescent Brewery. Food will be served as a catered dinner with beer available by the glass for $3/pint. Soft drinks will also be served. This is an "Over-21" event.
From New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany:
Obviously on our end, it's all about Louisville Craft Beer Week. The
activities have been updated to include the menu for Beer Brunch:


From Andrew at Ram Restaurant and Brewery in Indianapolis/Fishers:
The RAM Indianapolis is excited to announce Oktober-Feast 2010, a beer and food tasting to celebrate all of the wonderful flavors of Fall. On Saturday, October 16th, Head Chef, Steven Anderson, will team up with Head Brewer, Andrew Castner, to present a multiple course Food and Beer pairing event featuring a delicate Carmelized Onion Tart with Smokey Bleu Cheese, Walnuts, and Sage, an entrée of Braised Osso Bucco with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes followed by a delectable apple Tarte Tatin for dessert. This fantastic menu will be paired with our tantalizing Fall beer favorites including Pie’d Piper Pumpkin Ale, Big Horn Oktoberfest, and a sneak peak at our yet-to-be-released American Nut Brown Ale. Come by or call our downtown location at 317-955-9900 to obtain tickets. The event will be limited to 40 guests and introductions will start at 4:30 pm.

From Cari and Charles at Upland Brewing Co. in Bloomington:
Friday, October 1, 5-7 pm, the Indiana Humanities Council is hosting author Rita Kohn and complimentary tasting for the release of her book on Indiana beer, "True Brew." Upland and Sun King will be on hand with samples of their beer.

Sunday, October 3, come up to Trader's Point Creamery as they host their annual Oktoberfest. Polka Boy will be performing and Upland brews will be flowing. Event starts at Noon.

Look forward to seeing you! 
Saturday, Oct. 2nd, noon-5pm: Valpo Brewfest: Upland will be sampling beer alongside other Indiana and guest breweries at the first ever Valpo Brewfest in Valparaiso, Indiana, which is expected to be the largest beer festival in Northwest Indiana. Participants will be able to cast their vote for the Hoosier Brew award - the best beer made in Indiana!

At the Bar

From Jordan at the Beer Sellar:
New this week at Beer Sellar

on tap:

Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA for a limited time only.
Warstiner Octoberfest joins our other five seasonal Octoberfest beers.
New Holland Ichabod Ale
Crown Brewing Bodacious Brown Ale


Bells 25th Anniversary and Oracle are here but selling fast.

There is still two weeks to help choose our beer of the month but drinking one of Victory Brewery's four beers.

Specials/ Events

Come watch the UFC fight this Saturday night and enjoy $9 pitchers of Sierra Nevada Tumbler

Beer Sellar is making Monday's more fun with Monday Night Football. $ 3 U-call it pints on over 45 taps.

From Jeffery T at the Good Beer Show in Muncie (on behalf of the Fickle Peach):
Tap List:

Oct 5th
Founder's Breakfast Stout A+
Three Floyds' Alpha King A
Bell's Brewing Le Batteur of the Jazz series

Oct 6th
Three Floyds' Apocalypse Cow A-
Bell's Brewing Sparkling Ale B+
Bell's Brewing Le Pianiste 2nd in Jazz series

Oct 7th
Founder's Canadian Breakfast Stout A+
Founder's Nemesis A- 2010
Three Floyds' Dreadnaught
BBC's Mephistopheles Metamorphosis B- Tripel Cellared 5 years
BBC's Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout B+
Stone's Ruination IPA A
Boulevard's Tank #7 Farmhouse Ale A-
Left Hand's Imperial Stout B+
Jolly Pumpkin's Luciernaga, The Firefly A-
La Trappe's Quad Koningshoeven A- Cellared one year
Bell's Brewing Le Contrebassiste 3rd in the Jazz series

Should any of those run dry, we will then tap...
Founder's Old Curmudgeon B+
Founder's Devil Dancer A-
Founder's El Diablo Del Noche A-
Founder's Backwoods Bastard A- (Cellared one year. Mmmm!)

And finally, Upland will provide a firkin of Caleb's choice that will be tapped on Saturday the 9th.

Thanks, we hope to see as many beer geeks/lovers as possible!

From Lauren at Scotty's Brewhouse:
New Scotty's Brewhouse Fall Drink Menu coming October 5th!

Scotty's Brewhouse will be selling special drinks starting October 1st where a portion of the proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation

Scotty's Brewhouse Bloomington now serving Spaten Oktoberfest!

Carry Out
From Eric at 21st Amendment Liquors in Broad Ripple:
Over the next month or so, as the weather continues to cool, there's nothing I like more than a well made pumpkin ale. Of all the pumpkin ales we have on our shelves, my two favorites are the Dogfish Head Punk'n and the Schlafly Pumpkin. Both of these beers give you the brewers take on what pumpkin pie in a glass tastes like.
Dogfish Head has also supplied us with a single case of Burton Baton. The Burton is an oak-aged Imperial IPA. It's smooth and balanced enough to drink right now, but further aging will help bring out new levels of flavors.
In addition to those wonderful beers, we've got an extensive collection of Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales ready to go for you!
From Jeremy at Big Red Liquors (E. 3rd St., Bloomington):
New this week:
Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat
Founders Breakfast Stout
Dogfish Head Bitches Brew
Bell's Octoberfest

Great prices on:
Bell's Two Hearted
Upland Octoberfest
Becks 12 packs
Pilsner Urquell

Don't forget to mark your calendar.
18th Annual Big Red MillerCoors Beer Festival
Thursday Oct 14th & Friday Oct. 15th
From Greg at Big Red Liquors in Bloomington (Downtown):
New this week:

New Zealand back in the house!
*MOA Triple A true Abbey style Tripel with strong clove and spice flavours
*MOA 5 Hop
*Steinlager in bottles and 10oz Slim Cans 
Other New Items
*Two Brothers Atom Smasher Octoberfest
*Dogfish Head B*tches Brew Very Limited Supply!!
*Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Potts Landbier
*Hebrew Freaktober
*Point Cascade Pale
*Ayinger Oktoberfest 

*Two old favorites, a new way to drink them:
Victory Dark Devil-- Perfect for Halloween! A Dark Devil is a black and tan using Victory Hop Devil and Storm King Imperial Stout

*Don't forget our weekly beer tasting! Thursdays, 6-8pm September 30th we will be tasting our favorite Double IPA's
*Mark your calender!! Big Red Liquors Beer Fest is coming!! Thursday Oct 14th and Friday Oct 15th, 6-9pm at the Bloomington Convention Center. Over 250 different beers to sample!! Proceeds benefit The Bloomington Boys and Girls Club, Martha's House and Middle Way House! Tickets available at your Local Big Red Liquors store!
From Bill at Crown Liquors in Indianapolis:
New this week at Crown Wine and Spirits- Ohio and Delaware - Downtown Indy

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew (very limited)
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Victory Moonglow
Gale's Hard Cider
Bunratty Mead

and a small additional allocation of Bell's 25th Anniversary and Heavy Seas Greater Pumpkin.

Friday's tasting (3pm-7pm) will feature an all-Victory Brewing line-up: Twelve, Prima Pils, Moonglow, Golden Monkey and Storm King!
From the Distributors

From Greg at Cavalier Distribution:
Stein Pure Lager from New Zealand is back in Indiana! It is available again in both bottles & cans!

Cavalier Distributing is proud to recognize the following 2010 GABF Winners from our portfolio:
The Bruery
Clipper City
Great Divide
Jolly Pumpkin
Left Hand
Mad River
Two Brothers


9/24 Fall Beer Tasting @ Chalet #3 in Elkhart, 5-7
9/25 Fall Beer Tasting @ Godfather's Lq in Valpo, 2:30-4:30
9/25 Craft & Import Beer Night @ The Wine Stable & Brew Co. in Pendleton, 5 - 11
9/30 Fall Beer Tasting @ Chalet #1 in Middlebury, 3-5
10/8 Fall Beer Tasting @ Delock's in Dyer, 4-6
10/13 Founders Beer Dinner @ Monon Food Company in Broad Ripple, more details to come....

23 September 2010

Hoosier Beer Geek's 2010 Oktoberfest Challenge

As the temperatures begin to drop (well, that hasn't quite happened yet...) and the leaves begin to turn, we focus our attention on the coming of fall and those tasty fall beers. Oktoberfest is a style that a lot of breweries put their own spin on - our quest to sample them all left us with bottles from 28 different breweries.

As a drinker, the choices can be overwhelming, but we're here to help. That's why we've taken in on ourselves to make our way through all 28 and chose our Oktoberfest Challenge Champion.

Scoring Explained - Four Knights (Gina, Jason, Mike and Knight Emeritus Kelly) voted on the beers in the first ten rounds. The top beer was given 3 points, 2 for second, 1 for last. The beer with the most total points was promoted to the second round.


A. Beck's Oktoberfest - 11 points
B. Hofbrau Oktoberfest - 9 points
C. Weihenstephaner Festbier - 4 points

A. Berghoff Oktoberfest - 6 points
B. Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest - 9 points
C. Saranac Oktoberfest - 8 points

A. Thirsty Dog Barktoberfest - 5 points
B. Sprecher Oktoberfest - 11 points
C. Lakefront Oktoberfest - 8 points

A. Harpoon Oktoberfest - 7 points
B. Three Floyds Munsterfest - 12 points
C. Dundee Oktoberfest - 5 points

A. Atwater Bloktoberfest - 10 points
B. Shiner Oktoberfest - 7 points
C. Schlafly Oktoberfest - 7 points

A. Coney Island Freaktoberfest - 8 points
B. Brooklyn Oktoberfest - 8 points
C. Stegmaier Oktoberfest - 8 points
Freaktoberfest was thrown out because it obviously didn't fit style, both the Brooklyn and Stegmaier beers were promoted to the next round.

A. Point Oktoberfest - 10 points
B. Rogue Maierfest - 6 points
C. Clipper City Marz Hon - 7 points

A. Left Hand Oktoberfest - 8 points
B. Two Brothers Atom Smasher - 12 points
C. Samuel Adams Oktoberfest - 4 points

A. Bell's Oktoberfest - 6 points
B. Upland Oktoberfest - 6 points
Both beers advance.

A. Paulaner Oktoberfest - 8 points
B. Spaten Oktoberfest - 4 points


Kelly removed herself from the evening's activities for the second round.

A. Beck's Oktoberfest - 6 points
B. Stegmaier Oktoberfest - 3 points
C. Paulaner Oktoberfest - 9 points

A. Three Floyd's Munsterfest - 7 points
B. Point Oktoberfest - 6 points
C. Upland Oktoberfest - 5 points

A. Atwater Bloktoberfest - 8 points
B. Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest - 3 points
C. Sprecher Oktoberfest - 7 points

A. Bell's Oktoberfest - 4 points
B. Brooklyn Oktoberfest - 6 points
C. Two Brothers Atom Smasher - 8 points

A. Paulaner Oktoberfest - 9 points
B. Three Floyd's Munsterfest - 8 points
C. Atwater Bloktoberfest - 5 points
D. Two Brothers Atom Smasher - 8 points


What's to be learned in drinking 28 (well, 27) beers of the same style? A few things, actually.

First off, we've learned that drinking 28 examples of anything might be a bigger mission than it looks like from the outside. Back in 2008 when we did our Pumpkin Beer Challenge we were only dealing with 11 varieties, and it seemed like a manageable task. But when more than doubling that number we quickly found out that working our way through was going to take most of the evening - we started sampling (about one ounce at a time) at around 7pm and didn't finish up until around midnight. (That's roughly 44 oz. over 5 hours if you're keeping track.)

Secondly we learned that just because a beer is listed as a style doesn't necessarily mean it's going to take like all the others. Atwater's Bloktoberfest tasted more like an Old Ale than an Oktoberfest to me, and Berghoff's Oktoberfest is just plain bad - I'm no beer judge but it was pretty much impossible to miss the buttery diacetyl flavor coming through. Knowing which beers were in the lineup, and despite drinking all the beers blind, I immediately asked if our sample was Berghoff - we'd had the beer before (I have no idea why my score was that high, but we don't edit old reviews).

Lastly we learned that when all else fails, style guidelines (or at least expectation of a style) have to be your guide. Three of our final four beers had distinctly different flavors, but my top choice (Three Floyd's Munsterfest) was highly reminicent of the Sun King Oktoberfest we recently reviewed). I couldn't in good faith vote Blocktoberfest the winner because it just didn't fit the style - no one buys an Oktoberfest in hopes of drinking an Old Ale. And Paulaner was exactly what it was supposed to be - a true German Oktoberfest. It's a fitting winner of this challenge.

For my money I'd still go with the Three Floyd's Munsterfest though - it comes in a bomber instead of a six pack, and after making my way through 28 Oktoberfests, I know that it'd be a long time before I got through six more.

Of everyone at Hoosier Beer Geek, I suspect I'm the one most excited when Oktoberfest beers come out. Given that at least half of my DNA speaks with German accent, it is not surprise that I love events that involve leather pants, big sausages, polka, and beer. I never would have thought that I would tire of drinking Oktoberfest beers.

This 28 beer tasting session proved me wrong. I don't know how beer judges do it. Normally, when we roundtable a beer, I'm looking for what's right with it. When tasting 28 beers from the same style, you end up looking for what is wrong. That takes the fun out of beer drinking.

When it was all said and done with, my favorite beer of the night came straight from Germany: Pauliner. But I would happily drink any of the other final four beers: Blocktoberfest, Munsterfest, and Atom Smasher. I also concur with Mike at Blocktoberfest is not true to style. I don't know if I'd call it an Old Ale, but I noted "It tastes like fall fruit harvest to me."

Other Oktoberfest beers that I made note of during the blind tasting:

-The third group of beers were hard to choose between for me. They included Thirsty Dog's Barktoberfest, Sprecher, and Lakefront. Of the three, Sprecher just edged out the other two.

-I should have known better when I was snatching up any beer that remotely sounded like an Oktoberfest beer that Coney Island's Freaktoberfest would not be to style. I laughed out loud at the crazy color that it had.

-They didn't advance, but I did enjoy the carmelly goodness of Clipper City's Marz Hon and the pilsner-esque quality of Rogue's Maierfest.

-I've tweeted about my enjoyment of Sam Adams' Octoberfest. It met up with Left Hand and Two Brothers Atom Smasher. I have noted that I enjoyed all three in this group, that I just enjoyed Sam Adams a little bit less. And I had a hard time deciding between Left Hand and Atom Smasher.

-In a head to head group, Bell's and Upland evenly split the votes amongst the four of us (thanks Kelly for joining us!).

-While Beck's was able to move into the second round with it's green bottled beer, Spaten was not because it had skunked. Badly. Beware the green bottles.

For me, the Oktoberfest challenge was met with some highs and lows. The bad news is highs weren't super high, but the good news is that the lows weren't super low either. For some rounds, distinguishing different aromas and flavors from the samples was easier. For others, I wondered if Jason was messing with us and pouring the same beer in each glass.

Out of the gate, the Hofbrau Oktoberfest was a top choice and Munsterfest lingered on my brain long after it was poured in group 4. The Brooklyn Oktoberfest scored very low from me in early rounds, but later it strongly reminded me of black tea in an old musty kitchen (in a good way). Some had a lot of fruity esters (Left Hand, Sam Adams), some tasted soapy (Schlafly, Shiner), and unfortunately some were skunked (Spaten).

The most exciting of the 28 beers was the Blocktoberfest from Atwater Block. One sip and I immediately wrote "woah, sour" in my notes. I think it was more dark fruit than sour, but it had a tart bite similar to some sours. It was a very different take on the style and to me, that was a good thing. Other favorites for me were Stevens Point Oktoberfest which consistently scored well in my rankings, as well as Sprecher's version. In our last bracket, I scored the final four from low to high as follows: Blocktoberfest, Munsterfest, Paulaner, and Atom Smasher.

In the end, I have a greater appreciation for this style and also for beer judges that do this type of thing on a regular basis. Blind tasting 28 beers and trying to dissect them, though fun, is not an easy task. And we weren't necessarily concerned about how they fit to the proper style parameters. I do find it interesting that there were some parallels in BJCP commercial examples and the ones we voted through. I think the easiest explanation is that it comes down to the fact that a good beer is a good beer.

Believe it or not, at the end of the evening we poured all the leftovers into a pitcher together and drank it.

Notes from the Beer and Cheese Benefit

A huge thank you to everyone who came out on Monday to support Gabe Jordan and Kelly Funk. We raised a significant amount of money for the two charities, which is very exciting. Through the donations of our beer and cheese vendors and the employees of Goose the Market, we were able to donate 100% of the money we collected to charity! In case you missed this beer and cheese pairing, we'll definitely be having more events with Goose the Market in the future. Keep checking back for these events, and many more coming soon!

If you'd like to play along at home, here are the beer and cheese pairings we had. All of the beers and cheeses are available at Goose the Market.

Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse (organic Hefeweizen) with Vermont Shepherd's Cheese from Vermont Shepherd (raw sheep milk, aged 4-8 months) - The yeast in this beer, while typically subdued by fruit flavors, becomes very creamy with this cheese.

Sun King Osiris Pale Ale with Mayberry from Swiss Connection (pasteurized cheddar from Indiana) - This sharp cheddar stands up to the crisp hop bitterness; two Indiana producers!

Hop Ruiter (Belgian pale) with La Mancha Moo from Evergreen Lane Farm (Camembert-style cow's milk from Michigan) - The earthiness of the cheese creates a pleasing match for the sweet and spicy Belgian yeast.

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous (black IPA) with Fog Lights from Cypress Grove (multi-layered/textured goat cheese from California) - Despite the hoppy nature of this beer, the pairing left behind nothing but pure milk chocolate. My favorite of the night!

Kulmbacher Brauerei EKU 28 (Doppelbock) with Bûche from Juniper Grove (raw goat's milk cheese from Oregon with a piece of straw in the middle of each log) - the tanginess of the goat cheese was interesting with the strong sweetness of this beer. I'll admit I almost ate the straw...

Sinebrychoff Porter (Baltic porter) with Velours Bleu from Life in France (mold ripened with thin lines of blue, cow's milk) - I wasn't a huge fan of this beer on its own, but when paired I picked up strong notes of cola. Very interesting.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and helped donate to Gabe and Kelly. If you aren't already experimenting with pairing cheese and beer, you should be! The interactions are an adventure on their own.

2010 Great American Beer Fest Wrap Up

Where to even begin talking about the Great American Beer Fest. I will begin by saying that I thought the GABF couldn't live up to the hype that others and myself had built it up to be, but I was indeed incorrect about that assumption. My first thought was 49,000 tickets? That isn't really an issue though. There are so many brewers that show up to the GABF and the Denver convention center is so massive that during the Thursday and Saturday day sessions there isn't really a line for any brewers except for a select few. Friday night session and Saturday night session are more highly attended, but even then you can get right up to any table and get a sample without much hassle, but those sessions and those crowds are a little more.....drunk and obnoxious.

I really have to tip my hat to the people behind the Brewers Association and the GABF though. Here are some of the numbers for the beer fest:

49,000 attendees
3400 volunteers that help run the festival
2200 beers in the festival
3500 beers to be judged for competition
largest selection of beer ever on the convention floor

Some of my personal highlights:
Trinity Brewing from Colorado Springs, CO brought some really great beer. I didn't hit many brewers twice, but I think Rod and I hit Trinity no less than 15 times. The Flavor was one of the best beers there as was Old Growth. They were sour style beers that were showcased the talent of the brewer. Some sour beers I've had the brewer tends to have more brett cultures than talent, but these were some of the best sours I've ever had in my life. I am trying my best to trade for one of these beers on the beer websites.

The Bruery from California brought Black Tuesday and Oude Tart. I thought both of those were really tremendous.

Cascade Brewing from Portland, OR is another fantastic purveyor of the power of sour. I loved their kriek, bubonic plague, and Vlad the Imp Aler.

Iron Hill Brewing out of Pennsylvania won a gold metal for their pig iron porter that was really fantastic. I hit them more than once before the awards ceremony because I liked that beer that much.

Someone that I've never heard of before, but now I am considering a trip to Vermont just to hit them up is The Alchemist Pub & Brewery. I had the pleasure to hear a demonstration by owner and head brewer of the Alchemist, John Kimmich. He is serious and passionate about his beer. They only brew about 450 barrels a year, but they do not bottle and they do not allow growler sales. He also took home some hardware from GABF after the awards ceremony. If you are ever in Vermont they are a must hit. I had their double IPA called Ouroboros. It was one of the cleanest tasting DIPA's that I've personally ever tasted. I usually can't drink a great deal of hop bomb style beers, but I could have had several of these in one sitting.

Duck-Rabbit brewing from Farmville, North Carolina: They call themselves the dark beer specialists and I sampled everything they brought. I've had them before but their schwarzbier was tremendous and had reignited my passion for that style.

For my first GABF I couldn't have asked for a better time. Rod luckily was my tour guide the whole time and helped tremendously with knowing where to go. I've read some negative things about the fest, but quite honestly you are going to get that when you get that many people in a room full of beer. I can say that I will never again go to the Saturday night session. Most of the brewers don't show up for that session, people start running out of beer, and the crowd is just there to get as drunk as possible. The other three sessions were really great, but the feel of the last session is just a whole different animal. The city of Denver is a great town and I plan to head back when I can just to check out some other things outside of GABF. I will certainly go back again next year.

22 September 2010

2010 Great American Beer Festival - Day 3

On the third day of the Great American Beer Festival, there were two sessions, one Saturday afternoon and one Saturday evening. The two sessions could not be any more different. Saturday afternoon features the awards announcements and is mostly for the brewers and Saturday evening is largely a giant drunkfest. It's unfortunate, but that seems to be the way the festival has evolved. For that reason, we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon session and only stopped by the evening session to grab a few more tastes of Trinity's The Flavor.  Here is a photo montage to commemorate the final day of GABF.

The famous giant bear peering in to the convention center

The front of the line for the afternoon session

Interesting graphic of the number of microbreweries in each state

The Sierra Nevada guys actually pedaled their trolley to Falling Rock one night - never again!

New Belgium always arrives with 12+ beers available

Tons of interesting Odell beers on tap including Deconstruction and Woodcut #4

Upslope is a hot new brewery in Boulder

These keg guys have been to GABF every year I have!

Dogfish Head had a line all session, every session

Iron Hill has great beers and won a few awards too

Representing Indiana RAM and Upland style

Alaskan brews one of the best smoked porters in the world

Foothills, home of Sexual Chocolate

Lost Abbey and Port Brewing of course had lines

Deschutes began to run out of beer on Saturday

Ted trying to get the secret of Upland lambics

Fat Heads had a great smoke beer and one of this year's Collaborative Evil

Matt is just trying to figure out where to get in on the High Life

Elysian poured my favorite pumpkin beer - Dark O' The Moon

We stopped at Pints Pub after the afternoon session for dinner.  This authentic English pub has a menu full of English food, is brewing 8+ English style ales in the restaurant, is serving proper live ale and houses one of the largest scotch selections in the world.  Needless to say, we had a great dinner!

ESB on nitro

Check out that beautiful scotch!