A month after Nemo blew through and Extreme Beer Fest was cancelled, the rescheduled event was finally upon us. Excitement was in the air…the air was also freezing and blowing around rather forcefully, so we were happy when the doors opened a few minutes early.
As with all beer fests, there were pros and cons. The pros? Well, the beer selection goes without saying. The legions of volunteers (including our own Beer Geek Brett) helped keep lines moving and water dispensers filled. There was plenty of food to nosh on if you failed to remember your pretzel necklace (guilty), from Belgian waffles to free chips from Food Should Taste Good. Some of the brewers participated, too . Sam Calagione and Jim Koch were both pouring for Dogfish Head and Sam Adams, respectively. And geeking out in line with total strangers is always a bonus.
The cons? We’re not sure how many tickets were sold total for the night, but once the room filled up it felt crowded . more crowded than in years prior. Lines became so long that it became difficult to figure out whether or not you were in the right one (even after asking those around you). Most of the water containers were on the tables where the beer was being poured, which were surrounded by people 100 percent of the time, making them difficult to access. And none of the beers had descriptions anywhere, which we think would have made it easier to strategize what to try, especially given the big crowd.
But onto the beer! Our favorites for the night were Avery’s Odio Equum American Wild Ale, Cascade Brewery’s Noyaux and Vlad the Impaler, Dogfish Head’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Worldwide Stout (18 percent ABV!), Hanssen’s Oudbeitje Lambic, and Jack’s Abby Bourbon Barrel Aged Saxonator Dunkles Doppelbock. Dark Horse’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Plead the 5th was great, while their Lambeak Wants Dragonfruit an intense blend of acetone and tart fruit. Not our thang, but so be it. The Lost Abbey’s Double Red Poppy was a good blend of sweet and sour, but didn’t turn our crank as much as we thought it would. Trois Dames Grande Dame Oud Bruin was awesome . it had a great sour character with an apricot sweetness . though we’ll admit we had this one toward the end of the evening so our palate had nearly reached its limit for tasting. Turns out there were a few breweries who couldn’t return for the rescheduled event (Cigar City was one of them), and Cascade poured all bottles . no kegs in sight (and an impressive line the entire time, to say the least!).
Overall, we were pumped to try so many new brews, but the crowds made the whole process a bit more difficult. Were you at Extreme Beer Fest? What did you think? What were your favorites?