Though I tried many other beers at the American Craft Beer Fest in June, the ones that stood out for me as ones I remembered as being surprised about – and I was happy to try things from some brewers I knew and had previously underestimated, and others that I didn’t know at all.
Cape Ann: Fisherman’s Tea Party When I walked into ACBF, I was told by several people that I had to go try this brew. Made with the three varieties of tea used in the Boston Tea Party, the teas chosen imparted a really nice smokiness. I asked the brewers if they added smoked malts and they insisted it was only from the tea- a very interesting one. Sadly, this isn’t readily available (not bottled) and apparently they only brew it on special request.
New Century Brewing: Edison & Moonshot Of recent Beer Wars fame, New Century brewing company specializes in light beer – one of their beers having the addition of having caffiene. Since watching the film I had been curious to try Moonshot, and when I got to the end of the line I was actually offered both beers. Described as a light beer with no adjuncts, their Edison was actually tasty, and if it were on tap I could see myself ordering one. It was a bit malty and tasted like actual beer (instead of water, rice, corn, ect.). After that I tried Moonshot, which was a tad sweeter and fruiter, but still very easy to get down. I was expecting not to like either, but could now be described as a fan of both. And I don’t care what critics of the film have said – you need to taste the beer before knocking it.
Haverhill Brewing: Weiss with Woodruff Syrup Maybe some beer gurus will be offended by this, but I’ve never had the opportunity to try a Weiss with the true syrups. So this one was a great opportunity to get a taste of that. I chose the woodruff syrup (the green one) and had them put a swig into my cup. Though interesting, I couldn’t get the idea that it tasted like a sour apple Jolly Rancher candy out of my head.
Goose Island: Burbon Barrel County Stout Friends had raved about finding this in a Massachussetts beer store only weeks before, so I parked myself in the Goose Island line to get it. A huge fan of Matilda, I was hoping this one would be just as awsome. Unfortunatly, its sweetness just overwhelmed me, and it was hard to finish. Just too heavy, too sweet to really enjoy, it got the better of me.
New England Brewing: Stout Trooper A rare treat, this was delicious, chocolaty and oozy. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who loves high gravity stouts. Bravo, and bonus points for the Star Wars reference. John Harvard’s Brewhouse: Cripple Kriek John Harvard’s may be known for their brewpub specials that appeal to the masses, but I was surprised to find a kriek style so well executed coming from a small brewhouse. Definitely tart and full-bodied, this one was great, and I really hope that I can get my hands on it again.
Harpoon: Golden Wizard I admit that I’d written off Harpoon a while back for having kind of a boring linup. This spring I was impressed by their Belgian Style ale, so I decided to go over and see what they had brought to ACBF. Turns out, they had a great beer called Golden Wizard that was an IPA made with belgian yeast and barrael aged for more than a year. It was bready, hoppy, and really funky and fun. Very nice job. I also enjoyed their summer beer that had been steeped with candided ginger – delicious and refreshing – definitely something I could drink on a hot summer day.
Opa Opa: Watermelon I’d only had one watermelon beer in my life before this one (at the Boston Beer Works) and thought it was a novelty idea and a little too sweet for me to want to drink a whole bottle of. Opa Opa changed my mind, however, with their watermelon – a nice crisp pale ale with a good but not cloyingly sweet watermelon infusion. I liked this much better than Hell or High Watermelon that I tasted later which was a lot sweeter and dare I say a little more artificial tasting. But this one from Opa Opa could have kept me cool any day.
I know there were several times where my expectations were derailed by actually tasting the beers. Did anyone else get surprised by something they sampled at ACBF? Drop me a comment below and tell us about it!