February 28, 2012

Brewvival 2012

I'm in danger of sounding like a broken record, but I'll say it again anyway... Brewvival is the beer festival to go to. First of all, it takes place in one of the coolest places in the country - Charleston, SC. Plus, all the beer is purchased by the Charleston Beer Exchange, so the breweries are more invested in the event and brew or age batches of stuff you can't often get anywhere else, if at all. I will say, it was more crowded this year. A whole lot more people were in line before the gates opened at noon and once the festival started the number of attendees didn't seem to dwindle. Folks definitely used the entire 6 hours to enjoy themselves. From what I've heard somewhere between 2,000 and 2,200 tickets were sold. But none of that kept me, Robin or our friends from having a good time. Brewvival is all about good beer, good food, and good people, and it delivers all of that consistently. I'm just hoping this is the biggest the festival gets, because the venue (the field next to Coast Brewing) is probably at the maximum crowd it can handle while maintaining a manageable experience.

So here are my favorites this year:

Brooklyn Brewery brought along Local 1, Sorachi Ace and Brewmaster's Reserve "Mary's Maple Porter". Local 1 and Sorachi Ace are top notch (Local 1 was one of my favorite beers of 2011) but the maple porter didn't do it for me.

Evil Twin's Cherry Pop, an imperial stout aged in rum casks with cherries:

Sexual Chocolate from Foothills is a must have. They brought a 2010 and a 2012 batch, and I had the 2010.

Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam was manning a very steampunk looking tap device. The Fullsteam lager is good, but Summer Basil was the highlight here.

Great Divide brought along kegs of Old Ruffian and Petty Theft. Old Ruffian is officially my new favorite barleywine. It isn't overly sweet or as alcohol-forward as many barleywines, but instead has a nice hoppy punch up front. Petty Theft is an interesting sour/wild ale; sweet but with an almost vinegar like kick to it. I didn't like it much on it's own but it'd be great with french fries (beer-centric restaurant and bar owners take note!).

Great Divide also brought along their entire Yeti line to pour from bottles. The Espresso Oak-Aged is my favorite.

When I tried Pays du Soleil and Saison Athene on their own, I wasn't totally convinced, but then I tried the cask of Saint Somewhere's Fierte du Sud and I was very pleased.

If you haven't tried Southern Tier's Pumpking, you're missing out. For Brewvival, they rolled out an oak-aged version that takes the original over the top.

Terrapin aged their tasty Monk's Revenge Belgian-style IPA on cabernet barrels.

Unfortunately there were no banana split stout floats from Thomas Creek this year, but they did randallize Up The Creek Extreme IPA through Sorachi Ace hops!

A cask of Victory Headwaters Pale Ale tries to stay cool.

Stillwater's "Holland Oats", brewed with toasted oats and appelstroop (apple syrup) in collaboration with Emelisse, could have been just a gimmicky name, but it wasn't - the taste is as awesome as the name, if not better!

Tied with the Oak-Aged Pumpking, Old Ruffian and Cherry Pop was Black Note from Bell's, which was a blend of their Double Cream and Expedition stouts aged in bourbon barrels.

See you there next year!

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