Many new brewers attended the recent Beer Advocate's American Craft Beer Fest at Boston's Seaport World Trade Center, and even though he didn't plan ahead, The Beer Nut had a chance to taste many of their beers.
I don’t know how it happened, but Beer Advocate’s American Craft Beer Fest just kind of snuck up on me.
I’ve been busy at work, and there’s always stuff in life going on, but I’m always ready for this particular festival. I usually have the beer list scouted out. I know which beers I want to try to try and which breweries I want to hit while at the festival.
But this past Saturday, I had no clue what to look for. I had glanced at the list of breweries awhile ago, but I had no idea what beers to look for, except for a few tips from some of the beery folks I follow on Twitter.
So when I went to the Seaport World Trade Center on Saturday with two friends, I was going in blind. And I had a blast — it was one of the most fun beer festivals I’ve been to. Instead of rushing from brewery to brewery getting the beers I planned on trying, I just walked around, and if I saw a brewery I know I liked, or a beer that I can’t buy normally in Massachusetts, I stopped in.
The American Craft Beer Fest is huge, with more than 120 brewers who bring a total of more than 550 beers, so there is no way you can drink all of them.
From reading online accounts from the festival on Friday night, I knew if I wanted to drink some of Vermont’s Lawson’s Finest Liquids fine beers, I had to hit them up early. That was our first stop, and even though it was early, it had the longest lines. Lines usually don’t get ridiculously long until about an hour after the festival begins, when most everyone has arrived but no one has yet left.
I knew this was going to be my one stop at Lawson’s because I won’t stand in lines that long for 2-ounce samples. I had a tough choice, the Double Sunshine Imperial IPA or the Maple Tripple Ale. I went with the Maple Tripple because I figured there would be more double IPAs at the festival than maple beers. It was a fabulous beer, so I think I made the right decision.
A number of new breweries attended the festival for the first time. Many of those breweries were from New England, and weren’t at the festival last year because they weren’t in existence. The festival showed it is an exciting time to be a New England beer fan. Of the 122 breweries, 41 of them were from Massachusetts, with 73 in total from New England.
Some of those breweries included Jack’s Abby Brewing from Framingham, Mass., and Bull Jagger from Maine. These two young breweries have a lot in common — they were both founded in 2011, and both are two of the few lager-only craft breweries in the country. Oh, their beers are pretty good, too.
Other new New England breweries in attendance included Night Shift Brewing and Idle Hands Craft Ales, both of Everett, Mass., Wandering Star of Pittsfield, Mass., Tullycross Tavern and Microbrewery of Manchester, Conn. (headbrewer Brian Flach was a finalist in the first Beer Nut Homebrewing Contest), Enlightenment Ales of Lowell, Mass., and Mystic Brewery of Chelsea, Mass. Mystic brought Flor Ventus, which was my pick for top beer of the festival.
The beer that was perhaps the most creative at the fest was probably Twisted Pine’s Ghost Face Killah. This Colorado brewery brewed this beer with Bhut Jolokia, more commonly known as ghost peppers, the hottest peppers in the world. There was no way in heck I was trying that beer — I’m Irish, we like our food bland, and we don’t like hot stuff.
Sure, I didn’t get to stop every where I wanted. The festival is huge, and I just missed some breweries, such as Duck-Rabbit from Farmville, N.C., and Prodigal Brewing Company of Effingham, N.H. To help make me feel better, I did get to try a wonderful coconut porter, called Coco Loco from NoDa Brewing Co. of Charlotte, N.C.
The best thing about the festival wasn’t the beer, it was hanging out with friends and having time to talk to the brewers. And I got a chance to meet a lot of brewers I’ve only dealt with online or on the phone.
The great thing about beer people (both brewers and craft beer fans) is you rarely run into bad people. When you compliment their beers, they seem truly happy to hear what you have to say. It makes for a great day.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/.