As promised, here are my notes from the show, 1 week later. These are in alphabetical order by brewery. Again, I’ll preface by saying that I was working the fest, and came nowhere close to trying all the beers I wanted to, given that I wanted to keep a clear head on my shoulders.
Brooklyn Brewery: Intensified Coffee Stout
Though there were several at the show, this was hands down my favorite coffee stout. Nice and smooth, very rich flavor, not too much roastiness to compete with the flavor.
Dogfish Head: Sahtea
Not your normal brew, that goes without saying if you know the brewery. Like an iced carbonated Chai Tea. I’m sure you’d get more complexity with a full pour, but it’s got strong flavor, that’s for sure.
Foothills Brewing: Barrel-aged Sexual Chocolate Stout
Oh–my–god. I have never tasted ANYTHING like this. So rich, smooth, and complex, i needed 20 minutes to fully enjoy my 2oz. sample. While I’m sure the straight up deal is good, the barrel aged took it to another level.
John Harvard’s Brew House: Archangel Ale
As I’ve been told, this was released at the fest. 9% and SO drinkable. Very well balanced, you know the hops are there, but they aren’t bitey at all. Superb!
Left Hand Brewing: Milk Stout
This was a new style to me at the fest, and I was very impressed. The lactose really smooths out the roast, and makes for a very drinkable, and somewhat sweet stout. Excellent.
New Holland Brewing Co: Dragon’s Milk 2006 & Oak Aged Mad Hatter
This three year old bottle of a strong ale was over the top. Delicious, and smooth. The oak came through very nicely to round it out. The Mad Hatter was quite a surprise, the oak aging gave the IPA almost a vanilla flavor, again, super tasty.
Oskar Blues: Dale’s Pale Ale
These guys were the first place I heard of doing craft beer canning, and changed my world when I finally got to taste them. Dale’s Pale Ale is incredible. Very smooth, caramel, and nice hop finish — all in a can. Can’t wait to try the other lines.
Pretty Things: Baby Tree & Jack D’Or
A very cool brewery with a very cool table display, Pretty things have made some very tasty beers. Both were unique, with a whole lot going on. Lots of flavor. Both need more than a sample to appreciate, I’ll have to make sure that I make a point to revisit them again.
Stone Brewing Co: 2007 Imperial Russian Stout, Double-Dry Hopped Ruination IPA & Levitation Ale
Stone had probably the longest line, and fortunately for me, they stayed after closing to let the staff have at their beers. The ’07 RIS was out of this world. So smooth and velvety, it went down like water, though it was most definitely not. It had all the right characteristics of an Imperial stout, but they had all mingled so well over two years that it was pure heaven. And the DDH Ruination was Sofa King hoppy, I think the dry hopping actually hid the IBUs a little with all the hop flavor and aroma. Levitation was a deliciously light and hoppy ale at 4.4%. Nice.
Surly Brewing: Furious, Darkness & Two
I’d never heard of Surly going into the fest, but I won’t forget them. Omar was super nice and I got to try all of their beers. Furious is a new favorite IPA, giving Ruination some competition in my mind, and the Darkness is one intense RIS. I wonder what that would be like mellowed for a couple years? Two was their second anniversarry brew, a cranberry stout. Wow, intense cranberry flavor, followed by a nice roasty, chocolate finish. Very very good, and different.
Terrapin Beer: Rye Pale Ale
Another first, a Rye Ale. I liked it, the rye gives it a tart, spiciness that balances the sweet malt very well, and the hops provide a nice finish. Wish I’d been able to try the side project.
Weyerbacher: Double Simcoe IPA
I made it over to this booth at the end of the fest, and wish I hadn’t waited so long. I only tried this one brew out of a belgian bottle, and oh wow. Such sweetness combined with the Simcoe hops made a happy melody in my mouth. Can’t wait to try this and some of their other brews in the future.