Sunday, March 3, 2013

Philly Craft Beer Festival (March 2, 2013)

On this chilly, cloudy Saturday, I journeyed by car, train, and bus to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for the Philly Craft Beer Festival. More than 80 breweries (at least 23 from Pennsylvania) dispensed samples of their brews under the shelter of two gigantic tents.

Below is a list of the most memorable beers I sampled, along with any specific recollections I can conjur.

Coal Porter - Atlantic Brewing Company (Bar Harbor, ME) This was the first dark beer we tasted that day among an onslaught of IPAs. I was not familiar with Atlantic. They are still quite small, apparently, with distribution only in New England, the mid-Atlantic, and Ohio.

Obovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout - Boulder Beer Company (Boulder, CO) This was served on nitro, so it had a dense, creamy head and velvety mouthfeel, even above what you'd already expect from an oatmeal stout. The woody note was nicely integrated with the dark malts. A real treat!

Rye Stout - Lavery Brewing Company (Erie, PA) Very roasty, with a substantial rye spiciness. I didn't tasting anything else all day that was quite like this. Props to tiny Lavery!

Rugbrød - The Bruery (Placentia, CA) A Danish-style dark rye ale -- can't claim to have had one of those before. Bread and toffee, with a sudden turn toward Belgian-type sourness at the end. Very unusual.

Stegmaier Porter - Lion Brewery, Inc. (Wilkes-Barre, PA) The venerable old Stegmaier brand is perpetuated by the Lion Brewery, and this porter is very solid, with deep malt flavor and that faint smokiness I love in porters.

Chocolate Stout - Appalachian Brewing Company (Gettysburg, PA) This was the last beer I sampled in the first tent, and it was among the best. Super dense and chocolatey. The pour was far more generous than the supposed 2 oz. limit, but I definitely wanted more.

Hop Karma Brown IPA - Terrapin Beer Company (Athens, GA) To my surprise, one of the best beers I tasted all day. Nice caramel, crème brûlée flavor -- somewhat reminiscent of Tröegs' Flying Mouflan, hands down my favorite beer of the 2012 International Great Beer Expo.

Ground Break American-style Saison - Ithaca Beer Company (Ithaca, NY) I loved the slightly heavy mouthfeel of this beer, and its apricot fruitiness and lemony but not overstated hop contribution.

Doppelbock - Cottrell Brewing Company (Pawcatuck, CT) Although their website declares them "the oldest continuously brewed and bottled beer in Connecticut," Cottrell was another new discovery for me. I was impressed that this flavorful doppelbock was able to cut through my palate fatigue so late in the day and make a strong showing.

Rise Up Stout - Evolution Craft Brewing Company (Salisbury, MD) My very last sample at the end of three hours of tasting. The ex-Delaware brewers delivered a wonderfully rich flavor in their coffee stout. I am told that they are doing remarkable things with their barrel-aged and blended Menagerie series, but, alas, it was too much to hope that they would bring their top-end products to a festival.

Apart from a slightly chaotic situation with the bus queues for returning to the subway terminal, this was a very enjoyable event that offered many new discoveries. Time to consider buying tickets to the International Great Beer Expo in June.

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