Browsing articles in "beer festivals"
Lindsey Engel, the import craft specialty manager at The Lewis Bear Co., answered a few of our questions, advising us on the ways to best enjoy a beer-tasting.
Put your new knowledge to use at one of the upcoming beer festivals.
Here are some steps to properly sample craft beers:
1. Look at the beer in your glass. You should have a beer clean glass allowing for adequate foam/head.
2. Swirl the beer in your glasses this will allow for aromas to be present and loosen carbonation.
3. Smell the beer. Up to 95 percent of all sensory experience is through your sense of smell. You should breathe quickly through your nose then again breathe through your mouth only as well.
4. Taste the beer. Take a sip of the beer and hold it in your mouth as you breathe in. While you still have the beer and start to breathe out and exhale try to also detect flavors such as salty, sweet, bitter, etc. Also try this again after the beer warms up just a bit. Americans tend to drink beers at a lot colder temperatures, as you let the beer warm up a bit you may start to detect flavors and aromas you didn’t notice before.
What type of beer should you start with for a great beer-tasting experience? Why?
As a good rule of thumb it is generally better to try beers with lower IBU’s or International Bittering Units. IBU’s measure the perceived bitterness in a beer, the lower the IBU the lower the bitterness, so it is better to start with the craft beers with the lowest IBUs. A beer’s color is not an indication of IBUs. Just because a beer is light in color it can still have higher IBUs than a beer that is darker in color.
Should you eat beforehand, during or after a beer-tasting?
It is always recommended to eat before tasting beers. A lot of craft beers have high alcohol content and sometimes people that aren’t used to drinking them on a regular basis can be caught off guard.
Should you be cleansing your palate in between beers? Beer types? How?
Drinking water and eating crackers and/or pretzels is also a good recommendation to cleanse the palate while tasting multiple beers. This doesn’t have to be done but can help breakdown the bitterness of certain beers.
Are there any beers you HAVE to try? Anything unique or not easily found in the area?
Beer festivals are a great way to sample different beers sometimes not offered on a regular basis, especially seasonal beers, so those are always great to try because they aren’t available year round. Make sure to write down some of your favorites or take pictures of them, that way you can remember which ones you really liked and would like to purchase at the store. It is very hard to remember all of the beers unless you do write them down especially when most festivals have hundreds of beer to sample.
IPAs in particular seem to be a hit for some, but an acquired taste for others. Any you recommend for a first timer?
IPAs are definitely one of the most popular craft beer styles around. But if you are new to the craft beer scene I would recommend easing your way into it. I would suggest starting with a Wheat, Blonde or Amber usually these style don’t tend to be as bitter and are a good place to start.
While traveling through the northland of my former home state, a couple weeks ago, I swung through the lake place my family inherited from my grandparents. I don’t get to see my parents as I often as I did when I lived in Minnesota, so it was a quick visit just to have a couple hours of conversation. We discussed various topics, one of which happened to be this blog and some ideas I had for upcoming posts. I told my dad I was planning on writing about him, and I wanted him to retell the story about the best beer he’s ever had. He knew exactly the story I was referring to and leaned back further in his recliner to recall the evening as if it were yesterday.
When he was in high school (I believe the statute of limitations has long since passed) in Bismarck, N.D., he worked at the local zoo for a couple summers. He had many responsibilities, but one he remembers with a particular lack of fondness was driving children around on a cruddy little train. On days like the one he remembers, driving the train was a special kind of hell — a hot, humid, never-ending circle of euphoria for everyone but the driver. Those especially hot days left my dad completely exhausted and in need of hydration that would not only quench thirst but also ease the mind a little.
It wasn’t unusual for him and his friends to gather out on the sandbars of the Missouri River to have some beers. On this particular evening, my dad recalls telling one of his buddies to grab him a six-pack of some non-descript beer, like Schlitz at $1.50, or the more economical choice of Old Milwaukee at $1.25. After a day of driving that silly train around the zoo or watching one-too-many kids drop their ice cream cones on the ground and cry, that bottle of beer sitting on ice was more coveted than the Holy Grail. When he finally made it out to the gathering of vehicles on the sandbar, he located the cooler with his six pack that had been on ice for hours, pulled the top of that golden elixir and enjoyed the best beer he’s ever had: a forgettable 21 cent lager from a pop-top can.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought about what would be the best beer I’ve ever had. I’ve had some really good ones, too. I thought of the first time I tried my favorite beer, Odell Myrcenary, and how that beer changed the way I think about IPAs. I thought about all the small-batch, limited release beers I’ve had in bottles or at beer festivals, beers that I can’t even name because I was in a state of euphoria not unlike the one the children on that train at the zoo likely experienced. And yet, despite all the good beer I’ve had, the best beer I’ve ever drank might be the first one I sucked down at a local bar after I finished my last class of graduate school. And I couldn’t even tell you what it was.
My hope is that I’m lucky enough to enjoy many more beers over the lifetime that I’m given. I’m sure I’ll taste a few more that will change the way I think about beer. Heck, there may even be some that change my life. And if I get another that takes the throne as the best beer I’ve ever had, I’d only be so lucky to not remember what it was.
By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers
Greetings, fellow beer geeks!
So, how did we get to mid-August so fast? I blinked, and here we are. Suddenly, the county fairs are happening, the back-to-school sales are in full force, and I noticed the other day while on a beer run to the store that the breweries are releasing their Okoberfest beers. Sheesh … when you are enjoying yourself, time really does pass quickly.
As for enjoying yourself, being a craft-beer geek/enthusiast, this time of year is a cornucopia (pun intended) of beer bliss. First, let me start with a couple of beer events I attended over the past couple of weekends.
Aug. 9, our club took a bus trip beyond the Cheddar Curtain to Madison, Wisconsin, for one of the premier beer festivals in the entire U.S. — Great Taste of the Midwest in Olin Park, on beautiful Lake Monona. This was the 28th annual version, hosted by the Madison homebrew club, Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild. Originally starting out as a small local event, it has steadily grown to 5,000 attendees and 170 breweries bringing in more than 600 beers, of which 60 were cask-conditioned real ales.
A few years back, a writer for a beer periodical compared getting tickets to Great Taste to tickets for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in difficulty to obtain. Space limits me, but the beers that really caught my attention and that I can remember were: Dark Horse’s Plead the 5th Burbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Emmett’s Red Ale, Flossmoor Station’s Pullman Brown, Founder’s Dirty Bastard, New Glarus Staghorn Oktoberfest, Pig Mind’s Joe Daddy coffee Stout, Sun King’s Fistfull of Hops, Surley’s Darkness, 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust, and Tyranena’s Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale. Needless to say, it was a great day.
This past Saturday evening, I attended Burpee Museum of Natural History’s inaugural summer fund-raising event, The Local. Unlike the behemoth that Great Taste is, this is a more intimate gathering of approximately 350 people at the museum in Rockford. The focus is pairing food and desserts from local restaurants with local breweries and wineries, hence the name. The breweries were Carlyle’s, paired with The Sweetery; Pig Minds, paired with Five Forks; and Rockford Brewing Co., paired with Vintage @ 501. The wineries were Famous Fossil, paired with Mary’s Market; and Hailey’s, paired with Garrett’s.
The evening was perfect weather-wise, along with the food and drink. Patrons sampled the beer/wine food pairings in the museum gardens on the river and voted for their favorite. Also, silent auctions were held to help raise funds for the museum. The highlight of the evening for myself was Carlyle’s Black Walnut Stout … mmmmm.
Along with the many Oktoberfests coming up, I want to remind you of the upcoming local beer festival, Screw City Beer Festival, set for Saturday, Sept. 6, in downtown Rockford. Breweries and beers are being finalized, but one tent you must stop by is the Forest City Brewers. This marks the return of the club pouring our very own handcrafted beers to the public. Some of you may remember we were at the inaugural event, but because of archaic Illinois liquor laws, we had to bow out the last two years. But we are back, and will have nine different beers on tap for your enjoyment. Stop by and say hi, as I will be at the tent most of the day, unless I’m hunting down a special beer.
Michael Sears is the president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a home-brewing club dedicated to the art of finely-crafted beer. The club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Street. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Aug. 20-26, 2014, issue
Corn is a staple at most festivals in the region. There are several festivals dedicated alone to corn.
But corn isn’t the only thing marked for merrymaking at the growing number of festivals throughout the region. We have beer festivals and festivals celebrating pork, popcorn, the pierogi and there was even a Bacon Fest.
Dolton highlights shrimp with long-running Shrimp Boil each year on Isaak Walton Lake. The Aukiki River Festival in south Porter County celebrates the Grand Kankakee River.
There are also festivals for blueberries, pumpkins, pets and even Elvis and The Beatles.
Church and ethnic festivals are among the most popular in the region. So is the Hobart Jaycees Fest, which for years was a staple at the parking lot of Strak Van Til on U.S. 6 before moving this year to Rugby Field closer to downtown.
Festival of the Lakes in Hammond draws some of the biggest acts in the region annually.
TV’s “Seinfeld” had Festivus For The Rest of Us, but the region has Bizarre Bazaar (Hammond), Western Days (Griffith) and Gathering of the Orange (LaPorte).
And ducks play a large part in Hobart’s Lakefront Festival – as in yellow plastic ones – during the festival’s annual Dam Duck Race.
With a number of upcoming beer festivals, it’s time to study up on the best pairings of craft beer and food.
We asked Randy Hayden, general manager of Wine World Destin, to describe common craft beers and pair them up with some food for us.
Between his suggestions as well as information from an advocate of American craft beer, Brewers Association, you should now be able to grab a snack at one of the local beer festivals that compliments the beer you’re tasting.
Check out the graph.
Want to learn more? The Brewers Association has a full graph describing and pairing 28 different craft beers available for purchase on its website: www.brewersassociation.org.
Several beer festivals are coming up in the next few weeks.
Want to learn the finer points of beer tasting?
Did you think you’ve tasted everything the Dauphin Street Beer Festival had to offer? Think again.
“There is a difference this year, and I am very excited about the difference,” said organizer Joanie Stiff, an event coordinator with Mobile’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. “This year it is craft beer only.”
Devotees of fine brews likely will agree with Stiff that this is a tremendous development. Over the course of the last 16 years, the festival has certainly brought its share of genuinely innovative flavors to Mobile’s downtown entertainment district. But its roster has also featured plenty of mainstream beverages. So, yes, it has been possible to hold out your commemorative mug for a tasting pour of something you might casually pick up by the case at your local supermarket.
This year, Stiff said, beer snobs will find more to get excited about. A look over the list (Click here) reveals that there’s not a single light beer on it. Stiff said the approach was based on feedback from participating venues and patrons, and involved the support of the distributors involved in the event.
“We’re very very pleased with what we’re seeing,” she said. “It separates us from some of the other beer festivals.”
“We’ve got some local Alabama beers, we’ve got some beers from throughout the South,” said Stiff. “We’ve got beers from California. We’ve got three beers from Hawaii … We’ve got English beers, we’ve got German beers, we’ve got Belgian beers.”
If that paragraph made you salivate, here are a few things you need to know:
1. The 17th annual Dauphin Street Beer Festival takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, in Mobile’s downtown entertainment district. Tickets are $25 per person, and are available at each of the 29 participating venues. Because each venue gets an allotment of 125 tickets, some will sell out sooner than others, so don’t assume you can wait until the last minute and pick up passes at your favorite downtown haunt. Stiff said Monday that the few venues doing online ticket sales already were sold out or close to it.
2. This year’s participating venues are: Alchemy Tavern, B-Bob’s, The Bar, The Blind Mule, Boo Radley’s, The Brickyard, The Crescent Theater, The Flip Side, Gabriel’s Downtown, The Garage, Grand Central, The Haberdasher, Hayley’s, Heroes, The Joe Cain Café, LoDa Biergarten, Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que, O’Daly’s Irish Pub/Dauphin St. Blues Co./Draft Picks Tap Room, OK Bicycle Shop, Pat’s Downtown, The Royal Scam, Saddle Up Saloon, Serda’s Coffee Co., Soul Kitchen, Studio 5’4″, T.P. Crockmier’s, Union, Veet’s Bar Grill and Wintzell’s Oyster House.
3. Click here to see the list of beers that will be offered at each venue. Click here for a map to help you locate any of the venues.
4. Ten of the participating venues are licensed as private clubs, which means they have to keep membership rolls and issue membership cards. If you buy your ticket early, you get instructions for an online registration process. If you show up on Saturday without doing this, you’ll probably end up having to fill out some paperwork before you can get started. Don’t be that guy.
5. Organizers will maintain an info booth in Cathedral Square during the event. To find out who has tickets left or to resolve last-minute registration issues, come to the square. You can also register for prize drawings. (Note: If you’re hunting for last-minute tickets, it also pays to keep an eye on the Dauphin Street Beer Festival page on Facebook.)
6. As you can see from the accompanying map, the festival venues are scattered over a 12-block stretch. Fear not, however: A free trolley runs during festival hours, helping patrons cover the distance.
7. Beer Fest traffic tends to be heaviest at the intersections where Washington Avenue and Joachim Street cross Dauphin Street, two areas with clusters of popular nightspots. But great beers (and shorter lines) are on offer at venues along Royal, Conti and St. Francis streets. Asked for tips on how to make the most of the event, Stiff suggested: “Start someplace new, and end someplace new.”
8. Several downtown hotels are offering specials for Beer Fest patrons; for information, visit the event’s Facebook page. To contact organizers, www.ncsmobile.org or call the city’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services at 251-208-1550.
9. Sorry kids, tickets are strictly limited to participants age 21 and up.
TJ Glowicz holds his glass of beer wearing pretzel necklace during the Untapped Indie Music Beer Fort Worth at Panther Island Pavilion at Fort Worth, TX on March 8, 2014. (Kye R. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)
Get out your road map. The next couple months feature three huge craft beer festivals, each with a different twist. If you’ve never attended a beer festival, now is the time. There is no better way to explore the craft beer world. Small samples poured by hundreds, if not thousands, of brewers truly allow you to hone in and identify those brewers and styles you like best (and those you don’t).
Texas Craft Brewers Festival
First up is the Texas Craft Brewers Festival on September 27 at Fiesta Gardens in Austin. This festival focuses exclusively on Texas craft brewers and 57 of them will attend the event this year. Brewers outside of Texas are not even invited. You won’t find a better opportunity to experience Texas craft beer, as no other festival features as many Texas craft brewers. Each brewery will pour two of its best beers and a rotating tap will feature rare beers from 16 of these brewers. The rotating tap will dispense a new beer every 30 minutes throughout the festival.
Great American Beer Festival
Next up is the granddaddy of them all, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), held October 2-4 in Denver. Over 1,300 breweries will pour more than 5,700 beers. The GABF is the biggest beer festival in America. Not only does it last an entire weekend, but the GABF features the greatest beer competition in the world. Brewers submit their beers in one of 90 separate categories for judging, all in hopes of winning the biggest award in the craft beer industry — a GABF gold medal. There is no greater validation of a brewer’s skill than receipt of a GABF medal.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Untapped festival on November 1 in Dallas, at Gilley’s South Side complex. Untapped is a truly unique festival featuring the combination of beer and music. Local and national brewers pour beer while indie music fills the air on multiple stages throughout the complex. Brewers typically bring their rarest beers to Untapped, which entices even the biggest beer connoisseurs’ attendance. The musical lineup is dynamite in its own right. From local staples, such as the Polyphonic Spree, to international superstars, Cake, this year’s Untapped festival is sure to be a true gem.
Michael Peticolas is a fifth generation Texas trial attorney and owner/operator of Dallas’ Peticolas Brewing Company.
By Kathryn Millhorn
While the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest is limited to the 21+ crowd, activities abound for non-beer lovers too.
Olympia loves her brews. Whether locally roasted coffee or regionally created beers, we’re a town of skilled craftsmen when it comes to all things homemade and delicious. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” If that’s the case, then He’ll be smiling down on us Saturday, August 23, at the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest.
Jennifer Leach, Special Projects and Event Manager at the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor Convention Bureau explains that “this is second year of a beer event in Tumwater. Last year, we hosted the first Tumwater Oktoberfest, however we wanted to be able to hold the event in August and differentiate ourselves from the numerous Oktoberfests and Beer Festivals in the Pacific Northwest. That is why we chose to rebrand this year, as Tumwater Artesian Brewfest, paying homage to the Olympia Beer advertising campaign from the 1980s, as well as the Artesian wells all over town.”
One of the activities scheduled for the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest is a beer stein holding contest.
The event will take place at Tumwater Valley Golf Course from 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. There will be more than 30 breweries participating, as well as the original Olympia Beer, and wine tastings from wineries across Thurston County. Aficionados interested in to-the-minute listings of registered brewers and vintners can follow the event online, where the names and specifics of participating food and drink vendors are updated. One such attendee is a new addition to the Olympia brewing scene, Three Magnets Brewery says “We’re excited to give a sneak peak to our community about what to expect from Three Magnets Brewing Co.”
Attendance is limited to the 21+ crowd but that doesn’t mean things will be staid and dull. Says Leach, “The reason we have so many activities is that we wanted to be unique from other beer festivals or brew fests, providing things to do besides standing or sitting and tasting beer (we will have plenty of tables, chairs and shade tents to do that too though).”
“Our partnership with the City of Tumwater allows us to do that, especially with the large driving range we host the event on,” continues Leach. ”Our hope was also to create an environment where there is plenty to do besides tasting beer (or wine or cider), especially for those people who are the designated drivers for the group or simply don’t enjoy beer. We will also have wine and hard cider available. So there will be something for everyone, but is it definitely not your average brew fest.”
Test your beer pong skills during the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest.
Activities will include—but are not limited to—Supersized Beer Pong, Cornhole, Giant Jenga, a Mechanical Shark, volleyball, field goal kick game, footballs, and Frisbees available for play, Beer Stein Holding Contests (whoever can hold a 1-liter beer stein filled with Olympia Beer the longest), First Tee Hole In One Contest, and a 168 yard hole are a few more examples. DJ’s will provide music from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. to keep things rocking.
With the gorgeous summer weather we’ve had, and more predicted, numbers at the Brewfest promise to be an increase over last year. “Last year we had about 1,500 people, and this year we are expecting 3,000,” Leach explains. ”We have made quite a few changes, and number of improvements, so it wouldn’t even be fair to compare last year to this year! Last year we had a very basic set up, and utilized a tap truck to handle all the beer. This year we will have about 30 breweries representing and pouring their own beer, four wineries and one cider producer.
“Each brewery is bringing 2-3 beers, so we are expecting about 75 different beers,” describes Leach. ”Our goal was to only have Pacific Northwest breweries, so we hand selected breweries from Washington and Oregon to celebrate all the great beer being brewed in the state. The idea of Tumwater Artesian Brewfest originated with the desire to celebrate Tumwater’s brewing history, as the former home of Olympia Beer. That is why in addition to all the micro brews available, we will have Olympia Beer on tap as well, to honor the former Olympia Brewing Company’s impact on the Tumwater community.”
Before Brewfest, there will be a 3-mile Fun Run which begins at noon. Runners will all receive a complimentary beer mug as well as access to the festival 30 minutes before gates open to the general public.
Discounted tickets are available through noon on Friday.
Discounted pre-sale tickets are available online through noon on Friday, August 22. You can purchase them online or at the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau at 103 Sid Snyder Ave SW, Olympia. Attendees are welcome to bring blankets, but pets must be left at home. Ticket prices include admission, a tasting mug, and five tokens to use towards samples. Additional samples are available for purchase. Pre-sale prices are $20 for regular admission, $15 with military ID, and $10 for designated drivers. At the gate, all prices increase $5.
Olympia is full of amazing after dark activities, but this combines all the greatest aspects into one fun-filled night. Where else can you spend a glorious summer evening mingling with friends and community members, sampling the best our region has to offer?
SEBRING — Linda Crowder, the executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Highlands, doesn’t drink beer. And until last year she had never attended a craft beer festival.
But that partly changed because she was looking for a fundraiser for the museum.
“I was looking for a fundraiser that would be attended by young adults and I have grown children who go to various craft beer festivals,” she said.
So, she said, she attended one and thought it would be a nice event for Sebring.
And last year’s event far surpassed her expectations that they will hold another one this year called “2nd Round of Beer.”
Crowder said that last year they only planned for 300 attendees. Once 300 tickets were sold they had to turn people away, she said.
This year, the event is planned for 500 people.
The 2nd Round of Beer Festival will be held Sept. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the downtown Circle. More than 30 different beers from a variety of brewers will be available, as well as food. Tickets will cost $25 and include samplings of beer and food. For designated drivers, tickets will cost $15 and include food samples and soft drinks.
Additionally, people can preorder and buy commemorative T-shirts for $15.
Crowder said this year’s event will feature more beer from a larger variety of craft brewers. Selections will include Black Cherry Ale and Hoptical Illusion.
Some of the featured beers are made in Florida, but “there’s some from all over the country,” she said.
Long Shot will provide entertainment.
Crowder said proceeds from the event will benefit the museum to help with operating costs. She said they hope to raise $10,000 this year.
Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch The 2nd annual Rails and Ales Festival is held on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington.
HUNTINGTON — Anyone wanting to get tickets to the 3rd annual Rails and Ales festival next year at Heritage Station better line up early.
Only 1,500 tickets were available for this year’s craft beer festival in downtown Huntington, and they went fast. Diane Pendleton of Hurricane, W.Va, was able to get six the first day they went on sale. “We were lucky,” she said. “We got ours just in time before they sold out.”
“We’ve gone to other beer festivals,” she said. “This is comparable. This is a big success. Craft beer is very popular now. People love tasting the different beers.”
“My son got tickets for me,” said Pat Reger of Huntington. “This is a great little thing for Huntington.”
Jessica Pressman of the Better Beer Coalition, which hosts Rails and Ales, said tickets were limited because “we want the experience for everyone to be enjoyable. We want everyone to have a good time. We want to grow slowly so we can provide a quality experience for everyone.”
Eighty-nine different beers brewed or distributed in West Virginia were available at the festival. There also were six food vendors including the folks from Backyard Pizza, which has been without a home since a fire in downtown Huntington several weeks ago.
The group would like to expand the festival next year, Pressman said.
Shelly Keeney of Huntington went to the inaugural festival last year and knew she wanted to come back this year. Only 750 tickets were sold last year.
“It was really good, and the food vendors were very good, so I’ve been looking forward to it,” she said.
Bill Rittenour, owner of Chestnut Brew Works in Morgantown, W.Va., was attending the festival for the first time. He opened his brewery in April of last year and plans to expand from 200 barrels to 1,100 barrels this November. Things are going well.”
He was offering three types of draft beer, but his Halleck Pale Ale was the favorite of many.
Chip Roedersheimer of the North End Tavern and Brewery in Parkersburg, was another of the microbrewers participating in the festival.
“We were here last year,” he said. “I picked up five accounts. I deliver to Huntington every other week or so.”
“I was bred to this,” he said. When his parents brought him home from the hospital, they put him in an Inglenook wooden wine crate instead of a baby bed. “We’re the oldest, continuous operating brewery in West Virginia. The company has been in business since 1899.”
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