|By Sherv||Wednesday, 14 Feb 2007|
Four times a year the Cyclorama in Boston’s South End fills with very happy and inebriated Massholes. These events are the quarterly Beerfests and they assume numerous guises: the New England Beerfest summons all manners of local breweries to promote their pride and joy whereas the Belgian Beerfest dishes out deliciously potent Belgian and Belgian-style brews. The so-called “Extreme” Beerfest came to town on February 9th and 10th, with the 10th being split into two sessions from 1-4:30 and 5-9:30. My friends and I attended the first session on the 10th and indulged in many an “extreme” beer. Upon entering we were each given a 4oz plastic cup with a 2oz marking, indicating the pour level for each beer. Tickets were $30 but you could drink as much beer as you wanted to, in 2oz increments.
35 different breweries were present, including my favorites Stone, Rogue, Allagash, and Dogfish Head. By the end of the fest I had made my way around to about 26 of them, sampling at least one, if not more, brew from each. Here are the highlights:
Beginning with SixPoint Craft, we kicked off the fest with their Gemini double IPA. At a solid 105 IBUs (international bittering units) and 10.4% alc/vol, the Gemini was a pleasant palate shocker although light on the body (not much maltiness).
Boulder Beer Co.
They just had two beers available, the Killer Penguin Barley Wine which was potent and delicious and the Mojo Risin’ Double IPA. The Mojo was a limited single-batch brew and I’m grateful to this day for having the chance to try it…overflowing with luscious Amarillo hops this blasted my tastebuds with bittery goodness. Hopefully one day we’ll see this commercially available.
Goose Island Beer Co.
These guys came from Chicago and I tried their “Special Ed” Imperial Smok-ED Brown Goose which was brewed with 60% Weyerman beechwood-smoked malt and barrel aged for 4 months. Wow, what a delicious smokey beer, I’ve been off of brown ales ever since I had 3 skunked Newcastles in a row but this might just have been what I needed to get me back.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Oh glory of glories, I made a beeline to their 120 minute IPA; at a whopping 120 IBUs and greater than 18% alc/vol this brew will mess you up and good. They had a number of other brews there but their table was mobbed by drunks so I settled for my 2oz.
Sly Fox Brewing Co.
I had their Black Raspberry Reserve Fruit ale although while tasty and rather sour it just didn’t leave much of an impression.
Cambridge Brewing Co.
I go to this local microbrewery often enough an was hesitant to even try what they were offering but their Cerise Cassee caught my eye. It’s a sour-mashed beer fermented with cherries and their own strain of Belgian yeast, aged in French oak Pinot Noir and Chardonnay barrels and then further fermented with Brettanomyces. Wow, a very, very, VERY unique brew, although not something I could really drink much of in one go.
Shmaltz Brewing Co.
Ahhh, this very decidely Jewish brewery brews the so-called Chosen Beers. Definitely brought me back to my Brandeis days. Sadly, their Monumental Jewbelation was nothing to write home about despite their boasts of using 10 type of malts and 10 types of hops. Meh.
Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey
Tried their En Garde brew and I honestly can’t remember a single defining characteristic. Pass this one up if ever presented the chance.
Boston Beer Co.
Sam Adams HQ, basically. I had their 3 Weiss Men, a Weissbock-style ale that is only available at festivals. At 10% alc/vol it was rather sharp but overall pretty nondistinct. Oh well, nice try Sammy.
Rock Art Brewery
I have a bottle opener that I bought from these guys during the Belgian fest and it broke. Luckily their Riddler beer, a Belgian dubbel which contains 9 different malts won me over. Only 8%alc/vol and a paltry 32 IBUs, this beer was a tasty treat! A very mellow yet rich malty taste with some sharp overtones.
Founders Brewing Co.
Tried their Kentucky Breakfast Stout which was had tons of coffee and chocolate in it (!) and was aged in bourbon barrels for a year. The flavor was quite sharp yet pleasant, especially for a 10% alc/vol brew. I then tried their Blushing Monk, a lambic-ish brew (a pleaser for the ladies), and their Devil Dancer, an incredible Imperial IPA which had an amazingly floral nose, testament to their 13-day long dry hopping with 10 different hops.
Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery
I can’t for the life of me remember what I had here…they only had two offerings, the Gordon In A Can and the Old Chub Scottish-Style Ale In a Can. Oh well.
Stone Brewing Co.
I was VERY disappointed with their selection…a paltry TWO beers were available: Bourbon-Barrel Aged 2006 Imperial Russian Stout and the 2006 Double Bastard Ale. I had a ginormous bottle of the Double Bastard so I tried the Imperial Russian and wasn’t even interested in finishing my remaining ounce. What a letdown from an otherwise excellent brewery.
Allagash Brewing Co.
Mmmmmmmm, I had their 11th Anniversary Strong Belgian Ale which is fermented witha Champagne yeast throughout primary and secondary fermentation. 9.2% alc/vol and a blast to the palate, if given the chance to try this one again I wouldn’t pass it up.
Their Imperial Pilsner is absolutely brilliant. They only use French Pilsner malt, Sterling hops, and most importantly free-range coastal water and Czech Pilsner yeast to make a dry and utterly delicious lager. Very refreshing to have after all the barley wines and IPAs, this brew’s nose was floral yet subtle and the maltiness was like eating a delicious scoop of Ovaltine. 8.8% alc/vol and a midrange IBU of 74 makes for a perfect beer for any occasion.
John Harvard’s Brew House
Forget John Harvard’s, they’re garbage brew. At this point I was full of such good beer that nothing Mr. Harvard could piss out would be good enough.
Well, from this brewery onwards I was quite tipsy and was unable to further study and dissect the tastes of all the subsequent beers I had apart from “Good” and “Blech”. I’ve listed the others which I tried but I can’t remember the beers at all.
Iron Hill Brewery
Troegs Brewing Co. (I apparently bought two shirts from them too).
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
Stone Coast Brewing Co.
Overall the Extreme Beerfest was a delightful assault of hops and ethanol; what saddens me greatly is that many of these brews are not sold commercially in MA or at all, and thus appreciation of said beers becomes rather difficult. Anyone planning to visit Boston should hit up beeradvocate.com and schedule their stay appropriately to coincide with any of the beerfests.