Oh, I had such a good time. I didn’t even get sick or have a major headache like last time, which I’m attributing to the power of having a beer buddy (to help you slow down, make sure you drink, etc).
My beer buddy had been to only one beer festival before, but it was more like a 10 beers for some $ fixed fee, and each beer was like a full pint (all 16 oz). If you wanted to try more beers, you had to pay extra and I’m guessing it wasn’t the environment in which you could chuck the beers you didn’t like that much.
The World Beer Fest in Durham is quite different. The organizers always impress me– they keep the festival small on purpose, fun but never rowdy or dangerous (not an easy feat to repeat every year but they do it), and they make it very clear that this is a beer tasting festival, rather than a beer drinking festival. After all, there’s really no way anyone can drink 200+ beers in 4 hours and not get sick. (200 beers x 2 oz sample each = 400 oz of beer, which is almost 25 full glasses of beer. in four hours. ow.) Some things I’ve learned from the previous beer festival is to have a list of beers you’ve been wanting to try, take no more than 2-3 sips per beer, come in with a slightly full stomach, and if there’s any room or any beer left over, use the last hour or so to drink your favorite beer at the festival.
My beer notes: (tasting on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being undrinkable piss and 5 being OMG must have it)
APIS Meadery– Kurpiowski Polish Mead (2), Bernardynski Polish Mead (2)
(where we learned the Poles like their mead sickeningly sweet)– one had currants, the other chokeberry or some berry spice. I’ve had mead before, some well balanced, some very bitter, and this is really, really sweet. like cough medicine sweet. I think we were tempted to try some ESB just to balance this stuff out.
Big Boss Brewing Co. –Angry Angel (4), Harvest Time- Pumpkin Ale (5), Black Diamond Express Belgian Blackberry Ale (1)
I’m a big fan of Big Boss– love their Angry Angel, Bad Penny, and Hell’s Belle beers. Their pumpkin ale was quite good (move over Dogfish) but their Belgian Blackberry Ale? *sputter* It could’ve used some more fermentation– the brew was quite fresh and tasted exactly like cut grass.
Black Sheep Brewery- Monty Python Holy Grail Ale (4)
Had this before — a good comfort beer.
Blackthorn – Blackthorn Cider (2)
Eh. If you like very sour, fermented hard cider this is your drink.
Boddington’s– Pub Ale (3)
This one had a strange flavor. I’m not sure how to describe it. It was screaming for a plate of fish and chips, I think. and malt vinegar.
Breckenridge Brewery- Vanilla Porter (5)
I usually end up with a favorite at each beer festival (the first one was Lindemanns Framboise lambic) and this is it. This is what would happen if someone mixed really good vanilla ice cream with a really good porter. This is one happy, happy beer (and no, it’s not overly sweet…just the right amount of vanilla flavor).
Clipper City Brewing Co- Heavy Seas Loose Cannon (5), Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning (5)
wins the award with the beer with most words- but these are incredibly good, well-balanced, well-crafted beers. I think this is what good pilsners and ipas should really taste like.
Foothills Brewing- Sexual Chocolate Stout (4) (maybe another name for their Total Eclipse Stout? I dunno)- Bette Paige of Stouts. Really evokes a sexy librarian theme.
French Broad- Wee Heavy-er (5), Seasonal – Saison (1)
I’ve tried Wee Heavy-er before, and I had high hopes for their Saison… uhm no. what is it with fresh grass-taste of seasonal beers?
Green Mountain Beverage- Strongbow Cider (5)
best hard cider– must be all these vermont apples.
Highland Brewing Co- Black Mocha Stout (4), Clawhammer Oktoberfest (2)
I’ve tried most of Highland Beers and generally love them except that I’m not a big fan of Oktoberfest. Just found it bitter and undrinkable.
Hook and Ladder Brewing Co- Golden Ale (4)
Would go VERY well with crab cakes (this is a Maryland brewery).
Kona Brewery- Pipeline Porter (5) (with Kona coffee!)- very SMOOTH, Fire Rock Pale Ale (5)
So I’m not a big fan of IPAs but have changed my mind due to a certain microwbrewer, and I’ve been branching out a bit. Kona really surprised me– the high quality of their beers is really impressive and the beers themselves are extremely well balanced.
Magic Hat – #9 (5), Circus Boy (4)
Can you tell my beer buddy is from Vermont? 🙂
Moon River Brewing Co- See Bee Honey Bock (4)
made with local tupelo honey- and it tastes like it, too. not too sweet, very well balanced.
New Holland Brewing Co. – Ichabod Pumpkin Ale (4), Dragon’s Milk Oak Aged Ale (3)
Pyramid Breweries- Apricot Ale (5)
home of my favorite hefeweizen.
Rogue Ales- Mom Hefeweizen (2), Chocolate Stout (3)
The hefeweizen was eh– probably because it was too warm. I’d say give it another try at better temperatures.
St. Peter’s Brewery- Organic English Ale (5)
had this before but still couldn’t resist trying again. this is such a good classic english ale and the glass bottles rock.
Star Hill Brewery- Dark Starr Stout (5) second place in world beer competition; Amber Ale (2)
Dark Starr is like a combo of Kona Porter and Foothills Sexual chocolate…great chocolate and coffee flavors, well balanced.
Thomas Creek Brewery- Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale (3)- really pale in comparison to Vanilla Porter– need something heavy to bring vanilla in.
Triangle Brewing co. White Ale (2), Abbey Dubel (3)
Ok, I might flamed by my fellow Durhamites about this, but for a local brewery it’s a bit of a disappointment. The white ale was more like “let’s make a spice bag and put it in beer!” kind of drink, the abbey dubel was the same except with a heavier ale. It wasn’t bad but I generally find their beers unbalanced and they were pretty consistent on that score. I’m still waiting for a decent beer from them, though.
Unibroue Brewery- Trois Pistoles (5), Ephemere Apple (5)
An old favorite. Smooth, smooth beers.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co- Fourth Dementia Olde Ale (5)
this beer was heavily malted (the malt was roasted for a long time, I think), resulting in a rich, caramellized malt flavor that made the beer very nutty but sweet– kind of like pecan pie.
Wedge Brewing Co- Wit beer (2), Porter (3)
new Asheville brewery.
Weeping Radish Brewery– Corolla Gold (5), Black Radish (5)
Oldest NC microbrewery has it right. Damned excellent beers.
Wychwood Brewery- Hobgoblin (5)
I had this last year and loved it. And could not find it. So of course, I had to get my fill of it…
Young & Co- Chocolate Stout (4)
An oldie goldie. 🙂