This is the second part of my event recap. For the first part of the story, please visit my post on the Hop Press.
Anyway, back to Odell. Chad poured me a Friek, a blended and aged cherry sour with a touch of raspberry, and the help of Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. I’m not generally a huge fan of fruit beers, but the cheery was very understated. It was a great sour.
Bristol Brewing, one of the first breweries I ever experienced, brought their Flanders Red. It was a blend, aged for six years. Super tart and delicious. Not too much body to it, but absolutely amazing flavor. I shared it with Chad, and he explained that it had been aging for so long that a lot of the body has fallen out, letting the crisp sourness explode. Definitely a great beer.
I lived in Colorado Springs for five years while I was in school. I chatted with Boone of Bristol about our shared experiences in that town. Boone is a great guy. Very fun. He invited us to stop back at the booth at 6 for a special treat. More on that later.
Besides all the breweries, there were a few other kinds of booths. Draft Magazine was there, as well as White Labs, and a few others. I chatted with John Carroll from White Labs for a little bit. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Pointing at WLP007 Dry English Ale I like this one the best.
John: Yes! The James Bond yeast!
Me: Exactly! Sneaks in quietly, takes down everything in the room, and leaves without a trace.
John: I’ve never thought of it that way…
We both ponder the analogy, and then go on with our lives
Obviously, this was a little later into the festival…
At one point, I looked over at the Allagash booth and saw Sam Calagione serving. Apparently Rob needed a break, and Sam stepped in to lend a hand. I love this industry.
There was one surprise guest. Michelob was there. They brought a few beers, and I tried their Whiskey Stout. It’s funny, the bottles all had Bud Light caps on them, so the bins had blankets over to hide the caps from us, the consumer. Anyway, the Whiskey Stout… It smelled great. It tasted pretty awesome initially. But it didn’t have much body for a stout, and the flavor died as soon as you swallowed. The guys at the booth were nice. I asked if anyone had given them grief for being there, and I guess one guy had been obnoxious, but for the most part people were intrigued. Comment on their presence as you will. They still can’t make a great beer.
Sam Adams brought some Utopias with them. I’d never bothered to wait in line at GABF for a taste, but here there was no wait. So I had a taster of the massive beer. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan, though I am glad to have tried it. At 27%, I’m not sure it’s really even beer. But, I had it.
After bouncing around to a bunch of other breweries, including Great Divide, Schmaltz, Gore Range, Left Hand, Deschutes, Stone, Upslope, etc., it was time to go back to Bristol. Boone had a bottle of Bristol’s Grand Cru. It was unmarked, just sitting in the cooler behind the booth. He affectionately referred to it as “The Shit”. I would not disagree. He described to me the contents of this brew, but I’m sad to say I did not write them down, and my memory of the exact words escapes me. But, “The Shit” adequately describes it. Pretty much, if you have the chance, take a sip, but I’m guessing it’s one of the harder offerings to find.
I tried a lot of other amazing beers. I really could go on for even longer, but obviously I’ve said a lot so far. There is one more beer I want to tell you about.
Altitude Chophouse & Brewery in Laramie, Wyoming, brought something amazing.
They call it Krampus. According to Wikipedia, Krampus is a mythical creature, not unlike our old friend Moloch. Apparently, he travels the world with St. Nicholas. Old St. Nick hands out the good stuff to the good kids. But the bad kids get coal? I think not! Krampus finds his pleasure in punishing the bad kids.
As a beer, Krampus is a spiced weizenbock. Following the rule of 58 – a rule I learned of that night, and I’m pretty sure involves math – the brewer combines the estery flavors of banana and clove with mulling spices, caramel, and raisin malt. Oh. My. If this is what I get for being a bad boy, I’ll never be good again.
Overall, the festival is absolutely amazing. If you’re able to go next year, I highly, highly advise it. The beer, the people, the town, it all adds up to the best beer festival I’ve been to.
I’d like to thank Laura and Bill of Highpoint Brewing for setting up the event. Also, Kell Benson and Phill Tearse took some wonderful photos. You can see more of their shots in this slide show, or their individual Flickr pages: Kell Benson’s Flickr – Phill Tearse’s Flickr