Technically I haven’t chosen one distinct Booze of the Month, but any of the beers listed below are worthy of the title. Considering the odds, I’d say if they stuck out amidst the 100+ I tried, that’s saying a lot.
I look forward to Beerfest as tho it were a holiday. Over 100 brewers from around the world pouring you beer after beer for 4 hours straight, it’s actually better than all the other holidays! You may have to buy your tickets months in advance and wait on line for an hour or more, but before you know it that warm, fuzzy feeling has you swimming adrift a sea of top class brews surrounded by 2000 more than friendly folks all sharing in the stoke. There’s nothing else like it, just ask Jesus!
Our crew of sauced-up scallywags included Kyle, myself, Colin, his gf Crystal (who held her own like a champ!), and Doug (a home brewer and beer enthusiast).
Pretzel necklaces on the ready, we set sail thru the first tent and were off on a bubbly adventure. Among the first tents bounty were the following mentionables:
Kind Beer’s Belgian Red (Charlotte, NC): A great beer with a rosy brown color, full bodied flavor but light as a lager.
Holy Mackeral’s Black (Ft. Lauderdale): Black as night, sweet and high powered, like molasses diluted with beer. Delicious, but you couldn’t drink much more than the 2 oz sampling glass.
Bison Brewing’s Organic Honey Basil (Berkley, CA): The most memorable beer of the entire day, this aromatic, perfectly balanced ale brought out the romantic in all of us, Kyle exclaiming in pure joy: “It tastes like summer!” What a moosh.
Left Hand Brewing Co’s Good Juju (Colorado): Bright and refreshing with a sweet, ginger taste.
Saigon Beer (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam): A super crisp rice beer that held one of the largest lines of the event, I was as shocked as you are!
BeerLao (Laos): Right next door to Vietnam but in no way related to the Saigon Beer, this light brew had a surreal flavor thanks to the Jasmine Rice they use to create the golden beauty, easily one of my personal favorites.
Bateman’s Combine Harvest (Lincolnshire, UK): Another phenomenal brew, rich and earthy, a collection of barely gave this beer a unique, almost oat-like flavor. Killer.
Tent 1: Complete! It may have taken almost 2 hours, but our band of brewsters were feeling great, dancing from line to line and laughing at just about everything. After a not-so glamorous stop at the shipyards, aka the forest of portapotties, we were on to tent 2. Quick stretch….Ok, leeeees’go!
Kona Brewery (Kona, HI): I love this beer! It may be my affection for all things Hawaiian, or the fact that I visited and enjoyed these brews at the Kona Brewery itself, but their Wailua Wheat and Long Board are flippin fantastic. The Wailua is a wheat beer made with passionfruit for a subtle taste of the islands. Long Board is an all-around great lager, blonde and smooth…filthy!
A Slew of Raleigh Brewers: Big Boss, Boylan Brew Pub, LoneRider, all great!
Mother Earth’s Endless River Kolsch (Kinston, NC): I had just seen this beer at Whole Foods for the first time days before Beerfest. Having fasted the week prior I was stoked to give this new Eastern NC brew a try. I’m not really a fan of Kolsch style brews but this beer was excellent. Tangy, light, with a very subtle hoppyness, I was so excited I bought a shirt!
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (Ohio): A rich, complex beer with chocolate malt and a light brown crema. A great change of pace after 20 or more lagers and such.
Bittburger Premium Beer (Germany): One of our crews top rated brews. A golden delicious brew with just the right amount of everything – bubbles, alcohol, hops, barely, etc…Awesome!
Avery’s Ellies Brown Ale (Colorado): A deep, nutty brown ale with lots of malty goodness.
As the tents went on my photographs grew more out of focus (by no fault of my camera!), the detail of my ramblings decreased simultaneously with their legibility, and pretty soon we were fumbling out of the gates to plunder downtown. Our bellies, rumbling and swooshing like a storm-bound frigate, were in need of some hardy grub as we laughed our way to and frow downtown Raleigh. The city was alive with buzzy chatter as our fellow beerfesters crashed every establishment in a 3 block radius.
We landed at Raleigh Times, stalking tables like a pride of lions, until finally we were able to sit down, unwind, drink copious amounts of water, and enjoy a much-needed burger. We disbanded a bit, but Colin, Crystal and myself kept the ship afloat with more brews and even more shuffleboard, discussing worst and best beers with a bar full of fellow brew nuts.
It was, indeed, a glorious day. Time to start training for the Durham Beerfest this fall…I better pop this Big Boss and start stretching!