Sunday, May 15, 2011

The International Beer Fest: The End

The International Beer Fest is over.  At least for me.  While I had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to try a lot of different beers, I did not get the chance to try everything that I wanted.  One reason was that there was not enough time.  The other reason was that there was not enough beer.

Quite a few of the beers that I really wanted to try, such as the Rochefort 10 and the Brew Dog Isle of Arran, were already gone by the time that I got to them.  Other beers, such as the Market Garden Test Beer and the Birrificio Montegiocio Draco were available only at sessions other than the one that I was at.  The latter point was a little disappointing because, if I had known the sessions that these beers were available, I would have planned to attend those sessions.  Still, in the end, I had a lot of fun and the opportunity to try a lot of great beers.

I took a lot of notes for the beers that I sampled.  Unfortunately, at this point, it is kind of hard to translate a lot of what I wrote, especially as the day wore on.  Still, I will do my best.  Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Rogue Ales: Chatoe Rogue Oregasicale. This is described as an American-Style Strong Pale Ale.  The beer has a strong smoky aroma, reminiscent of a rauchbier.  The aromatic elements speak strongly of barbecue and earth, along with some wood, either oak or cedar.  The taste of the beer likewise speaks of smoked meat, earth and some spice.

2. The Brew Kettle: White Labs Challenge: Alt Monster Double Hopped. From the perspective of style and taste, this is truly a special beer.  The aromatic elements are full of malts, with some hops.   There was also some caramel, which followed through to the taste of the beer.  This beer was one of my favorites from the session.

3.  Willoughby Brewing Company: White Labs Challenge Hopnotic Double Red Rye IPA. This beer was a nice gold in color, and very hoppy to the nose.  The beer has a slight astringency to it, due to the hops used.  However, the rye helped to round out the hops making this beer very drinkable.

4.  Hoppin' Frog: Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Stout. An amazing beer.  The aromatic elements of this beer clearly tell the story of the beer.  The aromas speak of bourbon, chocolate and even a little cherry.  The beer is very smooth and full bodied, almost like a digestif rather than a beer.

5. Fort Collins Brewing Company: Z-Lager.  This beer was done in the style of a Bamberg Marzen Rauchbier.  The smoke flavors in both the aroma and taste were clearly present, although a little less than in some of the other beers I tasted.  A good beer.

6. Pizza Port Brewing: Tarantula Black IPA. This beer is a great example of a relatively new style.  The beer was pitch black in color, with aromatic elements that were dominated by hops.  The beer has a clear hoppy taste, with citrus notes.

7. Heavy Seas: Cabernet Barrel Aged Barley Wine (2010)Something about a beer aged in Cabernet barrels intrigues me.  This beer was amber in color, with a strong malt aroma.  The beer tasted like it had been aged in barrels -- as it was -- without the tastes you normally associate with barrel-aged beers, like bourbon or oak.

8. Aecht Schlerkla: Marzen. This is a mix between a Marzen and a Rauchbier.  This beer smells and tastes like smoked or cured meat, most notably bacon.  I really wanted to try the Oak Smoked Dopple Bock, but this beer was a good substitute.

9.  La Chouffe: Blonde Ale. The Belgians make some great beers and this is one of them.  This beer is brewed with coriander, which is present in both the aromatic elements and the taste.  The aroma and taste of the hops also contribute to the flavor of the beer.

10.  Brouwerij Van Steenberge: Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour. The Flemish sour style of beer is a great style because it is so different than the ales and lagers that predominate the beer scene.  This beer is brewed especially for Monk's Cafe, a Belgian Beer Bar in Philadelphia (which Clare and I have been to on a couple of occasions).  The taste of the beer prominently features sour apples with some cherries and a bit of sweetness in the finish.

11. Lagerheads Brewing Company: Tyranny American-Style Pale Ale.  This beer is very hoppy, both in terms of aroma and taste.  The beer pours a nice golden color, which is on target for this type of beer and the flavors of the beer include citrus and a little pine.  The nice thing about this beer is the clean finish.

12. La Trappe: Quadrupel.  This is a trappist beer produced by and/or under the supervision of monks at a monastery in the Netherlands.  This beer was excellent.  The nose was full of bananas and cloves.  The bananas also figure prominently in the taste of the beer, along with some melon and yeast flavorsl.

I had a few additional beers, such as the Southern Tier Cuvee 2, the Stone Brewing Company 10-10-10 Vertical Epic, the Brouwerij Three Musketeers Obscura, and the Alesmith Grand Cru, all of which were very good. 

In the end, I had a great time.  It was great to hang out with my parents and my wife and try some new beers for the first time.  As for my tweeting and blogging, that has been an experience unto itself.  I have learned that it gets harder to take notes about beers as time goes on and I drink beers of different styles and tastes.  I have also learned that I need watch my handwriting when I take notes.  I never realized how bad my handwriting can get, notwithstanding the fact that I am sampling beers.

And, before I end this post, I just want to thank my mother for serving as the designated driver.  I really appreciate that she was willing to sit at the Convention Center and ensure that we had a safe and fun time.

Well, until next time ...



Anonymous said...

Keith (and Clare),
Thanks for sampling all those beers for your blog followers. Sounds like it was fun and wish I could have joined you. I'll go back and read your comments later. Any chance for a ranking of your favorites?

Keith Bolek said...

Thanks Emory! We wish you could have been there, you would have liked the experience of trying new beers. It is very hard to rank them because many of the ones I tried were very good. I thought about doing a ranking, but in the end, I just decided I would list them.

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