Monday, March 14, 2011

Extreme Beer Fest 2011

On Saturday, March 12, 2011, I attended the evening session of Extreme Beer Fest in Boston, Massachusetts. This was my first time at this beer fest, and I have heard many good things. Prior to going, I was a little disappointed that we were not going to Night of the Barrels on Friday night, but after hearing from several reliable people that it was disappointing, I feel much better about not dropping extra dough on that session.

Below you will find some quick tasting notes and impressions that I took from the beers I tried at the event, as well as a few thoughts about the event itself. As with all of my beer fest posts, the notes below do not reflect a full review, but rather a quick snapshot of the beer, and several of these beers I intend to seek out, try again, and complete a full review.

Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme- The beer pours a dark borwn color with a sour cherry and vinegar aroma. The taste is big on sour cherry with a puckering vinegar bite. The alcohol content is 11.0% ABV. This is one amazing wild ale that is sour and puckering, but enjoyably so.

Samuel Adams Chocolate Cherry Bock- The beer pours adark brown color with a bubbly tan head. The aroma is similar to cherry candy. The taste starts out malty and chocolate with a light cherry accent, but all together tastes like cough syrup. The alcohol content is probably aligned with the Chocolate Bock, which is 5.8% ABV. The addition of cherry did not bode well for this beer.

Wormtown Cinnamon Girl- The beer pours a red amber color and the aroma is faint but has some malts and cinnamon. The taste is surprisingly floral with cinnamon, light caramel malts, and pepper. The alcohol content is unknown, but I would guess around 6.0% for the amber ale. The cinnamon was somewhat drying, but not prevalent enough for this beer to don its name.

Dogfish Head Kombucha (aka Fungus Tea’mungus)- The beer pours a golden yellow color with a filmy white head. The aroma has plenty of spices, tea, wheat, and lemon. The taste is lightly sour from the tea, lemon, and wheat. The alcohol content is 4.0% ABV. This Beer Advocate/Dogfish Head collaboration was delicious and should be considered a success. Furthermore, the name of the beer went over really well.

Weyerbacher Zombie Monks- The beer pours a golden color with no head. The aroma consists of banana, bourbon, and oak. The taste surprising kept the banana on the front end before lots of bourbon kicks in, warming the mouth and throat. The alcohol content is 9.3% ABV. The 2007 vintage of this triple aged in bourbon barrels was one of my favorite beers of the festival. Mixing bourbon and a triple was much better than I expected and I look forward to more of these hitting the marketplace.

Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout- This beer was a sour Russian Imperial Stout, and I was utterly pumped to try it. The beer pours a black color with a thick foamy tan head. The aroma consists of chocolate, coffee, sour cherry, and bourbon. The taste is big and bold (no way of under-exaggerating this) with sour cherry, wood, licorice, molasses, and chocolate. The alcohol content is 12.0% ABV. Another of my top brews from the festival, the addition of the sourness to the Russian Imperial Stout made for a wicked (using the Boston lingo) brew that worked the palate to its fullest.

Dark Horse Super Juice- This was a quadruple IPA that pours a caramel color with a foamy tan head. The aroma consists of pine, grapefruit, and caramel. The taste is sweet with caramel and grapefruit with sugar. The alcohol content is 16.0% ABV. The Super Juice was quite smooth and delicious, with plenty of caramel sweetness balanced with the grapefruit and pine bitterness.

Sierra Nevada Saison de Haricot- One of the more interesting and intriguing brews due to being brewed with jelly beans, this beer pours a peach color with a foamy white head. The aroma is mostly wheat with some pepper accents. The taste is wheat, slightly sweet with cherry, and terrible. The alcohol content is 4.5% ABV. As much as I love Sierra Nevada and saisons, adding jelly beans as the third component was one too many, and this beer missed the mark big time.

Allagash Big Little Beer- This beer pours a pale yellow color with a bubbly white head. The aroma is big on lemon and meringue, which was quite pleasant. The taste is full of lemon and pepper and plenty of hop bitterness. The finish sweetens with the taste of meringue. The alcohol content is 5.5% ABV. While this beer has the typical lemon and pepper flavors, the addition of the meringue is what hooked me to this beer.

Short’s Bloody Beer- One of the breweries on my “must try” list was Short’s. I really wanted to try the Key Lime Pie, but they did not have it. The Bloody Beer was my first try, a beer made with tomatoes. The beer pours an amber color with red hues and has a tomato and peppercorn aroma. The taste is straight on with tomato, salt, peppercorn, and reminded me of a bloody mary. The alcohol content is 8.5% ABV. The Bloody Beer was not bad, but I can’t see myself seeking this beer out again.

Pistachio Cream- Another Short’s Beer I tried was the Pistachio Cream. The beer pours a golden color with no head. The aroma consists of a sugary cream, is sweet, and has some pistachio accents. The taste is likened to cream soda with light pistachio hints. Overall, it is pretty dry and is built on a wheat base. The alcohol content is 5.0% ABV. While not a terrible beer, I am not a huge fan of cream soda, so I wouldn’t be inclined to try this beer again.

Heavy Seas One Eyed Woody (Plank I)- I was excited to preview this beer, the first in the Plank Series. The beer pours a dark amber color with a bubbly head. The aroma is roasted malts and hints of coffee. The taste is smooth with plenty of sweet and toasted malts, and lots of wood. The alcohol content is 8.0% ABV. The difference in this beer with the yellow poplar is that the wood does not take focus, but rather accents the flavors.

Heavy Seas Two Eyed Woody (Plank II)- As a special preview, the Two Eyed Woody could be the beer that becomes Plank II. This beer is a doppelbock and pours a deep brown color with a bubbly head. The aroma consists of caramel and a sweet wood. The taste is smooth and sweet with raisin, caramel, sweet wood, and vanilla. I enjoyed this beer even more so than the Plank I.

Avery Mephistopheles- This beer pours a dark black color with a thin filmy head. The aroma consists of chocolate, coffee, licorice, and molasses. The taste is big and bold and takes over the tongue with chocolate, coffee, molasses and caramel flavors. The alcohol content is 15.1% ABV. I was extremely impressed with this beer and how bold it was, completely using every part of the tongue during the tasting process.

Hill Farmstead Iced Earl- The beer pours a dark brown color with a thin, filmy, tan head. The aroma consists of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. The taste is dry with coffee, milk, and chocolate. The alcohol content is 15.0% ABV. While drinking this beer, you may think that you are at a Starbucks drinking a frappuccino, but with a nice alcohol content.

Cambridge Banryu Ichi- This beer pours an amber color with no head. The aroma consists of sweet grapes and sake. The taste is wheat, malt, sake, alcohol, and apples. The alcohol content is 15% ABV. This was one of the best beers I had at the festival, and the beer/sake blend was quite an intriguing one.

Bobcat Brick Wall Double IPA- The beer pours an amber color, which I thought was pretty light, with a thin filmy white head. The aroma consists of pine, grapefruit, sugar, and tangerine. The taste is bitter with grapefruit, sugar, tangerine, orange, and pine. The alcohol content is 7.8% ABV. Overall the beer had a great bitterness about it and an interesting Sweet Tarts flavor on the finish.

The Bruery Oude Tart- The beer pours a dark amber color with a filmy head. The aroma is sour cherry and a very invasive vinegar. The taste is puckering with vinegar and a sour cherry accent. The alcohol content is 7.5% ABV. The Oude Tart was another of my favorite beers and was extremely flavorful with a good sweet and sour balance.

Hill Farmstead Ephraim- The beer pours a golden with a foamy head. The aroma consists of lemon, pepper and grape. The taste is grapefruit, lemon, pepper, and meringue. The alcohol content is 10.5% ABV. I continue to be impressed with what Hill Farmstead brews, and I will definitely try this beer again.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout Randallized with Coffee- The beer pours a dark brown color with a foamy tan head. The aroma consists of chocolate, alcohol, and a wonderful compliment of fresh coffee beans. The taste is big on fresh coffee, cream, chocolate, and toasted malts. The alcohol content is 18.0% ABV. I didn’t think I could like the World Wide Stout anymore than I already do, but the Randallized version with coffee was nothing short of amazing.

He’brew Messiah on Rye- The beer pours a golden color with a bubbly white head. The aroma consists of honey, rye, and wheat. The taste is sweet with wheat, honey, and rye, with a pepper finish. This beer had a great spicy rye flavor balanced with a honey sweetness.

As for my thoughts on the Festival itself, I truly enjoyed the format, the crowds, and the venue. While it may have felt a little crowded, the lines never took as long as they looked and the people running the station filled beers rather quickly. I was disappointed in Firestone-Walker, as they only had one beer for the Saturday evening session, and it was gone about halfway through the session. My favorite brewer had to have been Cambridge, and I would like to go back to Boston just to go there and try more of their beers. If you are thinking about attending Extreme Beer FEst in the future, I highly recommend it.

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