Brrrfest 2013

Brrrfest 2013
Brrrfest 2013

Last Saturday, a few friends and I went to Brrrfest 2013.  Once again, like many of the recent beer events, this one featured a “Brewmaster” session, with advanced entry.  If you read my post about what to look for at beer events, here’s what I saw at Brrrfest:

It was a very fast entry to the event.  As soon as we walked into the building, ID’s were checked, then we dropped off our tickets and picked up the event tasting glass and program, then went to stand in line.  As soon as the doors opened, all 400 Brewmasters got into the event within 5 minutes, which was great.  There was a ton of room for the first hour, and my friends and I could go explore the different brewers and reconvene to discuss the highlights.  The glass was a commemorative one, but I do wish it was a globe or tulip style, instead of the kolsch-style glass.

The Sparely Populated Brewmaster Session
The Sparely Populated Brewmaster Session

Although the written program didn’t highlight any special beers, the vendors at the event had a large selection of beers.  I was a bit disappointed several of the bigger names in brewing weren’t at the event (Samuel Adams, Founder’s, and Stone Brewing to name a few), but the Iowa breweries, including several new breweries, represented very well.  In my opinion, two of the best breweries at the event were Peace Tree (in Knoxville, Iowa) and Van Houzen, a new brewery in Newton, Iowa.  Peace Tree had three different ice beers, made from three different flagship beers (Rye Porter, Belgian Blonde, and Hop Wrangler).  They were very good, and unique to the event.  Van Houzen had several of their beers on tap, and when I went to try the one in the program, Symphony Imperial Double Chocolate Stout, I noticed the rest of the lineup: a Double IPA, Belgian Tripel, and Robust Belgian White Beer, all 8% ABV and higher.  Talk about some heavyweights!  I had a chance to try them all, and they were great.

The Crowd at Brrfest
The Crowd at Brrfest

After the event, I asked my friend Macy her thoughts.  She said, “The greatest benefit of attending an event like Brrrfest is that you have the opportunity to meet new breweries that you weren’t aware of before the event, yet still get to rub elbows with the brewers from some of your favorite breweries. The mix of exploration and celebration of expertly brewed beer makes for an event that is too good to miss! I’ll definitely be attending again next year.”

Based on this year, I will too, Macy!  Did you attend Brrrfest?  What was your favorite beer?

Iowa City Brewfest 2012

Brewfest 2012!
Brewfest 2012!

It’s been a couple of weeks since Iowa City Brewfest, 2012, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the event.

With the “Brewmaster” ticket, we were able to enter an hour early, and many brewers had special or limited release beers.  Some of the more memorable ones included:

Overall, I was impressed with the high quality of the unique beers, but a bit disappointed by the low number of special beers.  For example, in the past, New Belgium and Boulevard brought beers either not yet available or a special barrel-aged beer, but this year both brought their widely available beers, from their Lips of Faith (New Belgium) and Smokestack Series (Boulevard).

Overall, it was a very good experience, but with the “Brewmaster” ticket, which has been very valuable in years past, it wasn’t quite as memorable.  My only hope is that the larger breweries recognize what a great beer hotspot Iowa City is, and start saving some of those memorable beers for us!

Did you go to the Iowa City Brewfest 2012?  What was your take?

Northside Octoberfest/Brewfest 2011

Beerfest
Brewfest 2011

This past weekend was the first Iowa City Northside Octoberfest.  This year, Brewfest was combined with the celebration, to expand the audience of the event.  In addition to Brewfest, there was live music, food  vendors, and Sodafest for those who wanted to try different sodas.

At Brewfest, there were almost 90 different beer vendors with over 400 different beers.  Some of my favorites included two new Lips of Faith Beers from New Belgium: Kick and Clutch.  Kick was described as a slightly-sour pumpkin cranberry ale.  The beer had a lot of cranberry flavor, but the pumpkin was very light.  Clutch was a slightly sour brown ale.  It reminded me a bit of New Belgium’s 1554 with a bit of sourness.  Look for both these beers in Iowa soon.

Also, Peace Tree Brewing had several very nice special beers for the festival, including a bourbon-barrel stout (their Belgo-style Black River Gumbo Stout aged in bourbon barrels), a slightly-funky and a bit sour Cornucopia with Brett yeast, and a light and fruity German-style Kolsch.

Did you go to Brewfest 2011?  What were some of your favorite beers?

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22

New Glarus's Riverside Brewery
New Glarus's Riverside Brewery

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22, 2011.  So this week, when you have a beer, enjoy one from one of America’s craft brewers!

It’s been a heck of a year for craft brewing, and thanks for letting me spend some of that time with you.  Be sure to try some of the beer from breweries we’ve visited in the last year:

… and to some we were close to, but couldn’t get enough time to stop by …

Have a great week!  Cheers!

Peace Tree Brewing Imperial Stout

Peace Tree Brewing Imperial Stout
Peace Tree Brewing Imperial Stout

When I visited the Peace Tree Brewing a weekend ago, I picked up a bottle of the small batch Imperial Stout.

It poured very dark, and was a sweet smelling stout with a hint of a chocolate aroma.  Immediately I could taste the dark malts with a chocolate flavor, and there was a bit of flavor from the Belgian yeast.  It had slight flavor notes of figs or prunes.  There was very little alcohol warming, even though the beer was listed at 10 percent.  The body was lighter than I thought it would be at that strength, but it balanced it out quite nicely.  It was a great beer, and should be found across Iowa now.

Have you had the Peace Tree Imperial Stout?  What was your take?

Visit to Peace Tree Brewing

Outside of Peace Tree Brewing
Outside of Peace Tree Brewing

Over the weekend, I was driving through south central Iowa, and decided to stop and visit Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville, Iowa. Peace Tree burst into the Iowa beer scene last year and have made a splash. They have made several beers that fall outside the standard guidelines, and I applaud them for taking that initiative.

While at the brewery, I had a chance to sample the Black River Gumbo Stout from a tap using nitrogen. It was super smooth and had a great flavor. I also had a chance to try the beer that may make it onto shelves soon: the Blonde Fatale Golden Belgian Ale.

After we had a chance to sample some of the beer, my friends and I were taken back to the brewery. It was smaller than I thought considering how many locations the beers are, but I was glad to visit the brewery, and it made me appreciate more of what these brewers in Knoxville are doing.

Have you been to Peace Tree Brewing? What did you think?