We went there! I got Paul tickets to the ACBF for his birthday. It was amazing, and so much fun. There were 75 brewing companies there, each with 2 to 5 of their offerings to sample. They give you a 2 ounce glass when you walk in the door, and you get to walk around to all the tables and try everything. It was a fun way to try some new beers and get drunk with thousands of other beer lovers.
It was also really cool to see my old employer, The Gardner Ale House there, rubbing elbows with Smuttynose and Sam Adams. I hope that the weekend was a success for them, and that they won many new fans.
Trying all these different beers, a lot of them blurred together in my memory. Some really stood out though, and I'd like to have a chance to share them. So, without further ado:
Caroline's 5 New Favorite Beers from America
1. Saint Botolph's Town by Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Northern English Brown, 5.9% ABV
I was super excited to see Pretty Things had a booth at the fest. Paul and I got to share a big bottle of their saison, Jack D'or, at the Dove once, and it was quite delicious. I was glad to have a chance to see what else they had to offer.
I loved this beer! It had a really nice, toasty, malty flavor. It reminded me a lot of Mayflower Porter, which is a beer I often rave about to people, but even better (sorry mayflower!). This beer is a lot lighter, and with less dusky after taste. It was everything I like in a porter, with the body of an ale.
2. XIV by Weyerbacher. Belgian Wheat Wine, 11.8% ABV
This one is so new it doesn't have a label yet, so I just picked the best one Weyerbacher had from previous brews (obviously, the one with the sassy goat!). This beer is coming out this summer, to celebrate the 14 years this PA brewery has been in business. I had already been won over as a Weyerbacher fan by their outrageously awesome Double Simcoe IPA, and this new offering did not disappoint.
This beer has a rich, fruity flavor and really does register more as characteristically like sparkling wine. It's deliciously tart and crisp though, and seemed like it would be refreshing on a hot summer day. Something about the unfiltered wheat flavor was also quite saison-like. When this guy gets to stores near you, I recommend trying it. It doesn't taste nearly as alcoholic as it is!
3. JuJu Ginger by Left Hand. Spiced Beer, 4% ABV
There are lots of flavored beers out there, chocked full of peaches, apricots and blueberries. Some are tasty, some are not, and some are just taste ridiculously like artificial chemicals. This Ginger flavored beer really stood out to me as what a flavored beer should aspire to. The combination of the beer and ginger was surprisingly refreshing and complimentary. I also really liked the spiciness of it. It was so simple but decidedly unique, I didn't even mind the lower alcohol content. Ooo, I bet this beer would go great with sushi!
4. Hugh Malone by Allagash. Belgian Style IPA, 9.5% ABV
In spite of myself, I have become an IPA fan. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but one day I woke up and realized that really hoppy beers are delicious. This limited edition IPA is really complex and flavorful, with a citrus-y, grapefruity body. It has a great, tingly mouth feel (which isn't something I normally take note of in a beer), and a complimentary bitter after taste that seems to last forever. Even though this beer has a lot going on, it's still very drinkable and downright tasty. Even cooler, Allagash donates $1 to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association for every bottle of Hugh Malone they sell.
5. Wild Devil by Victory. IPA with Brettanomyces, 6.7% ABV
Victory is my favorite brewery, hands down. I am hugely fond of almost every beer they make. When we came across their booth at the fest, I literally squealed with excitement. I was going to profess my undying love for them and their numerous delights when I got up to the front for my sample, but chickened out, like a middle schooler asking their crush for a dance at a semi formal. So instead of telling them in person, I'm announcing it to the world now. I love you, Victory.
I was also pumped to see that they had Wild Devil on tap, which is the only Victory Beer I had never tried. If I had to describe this beer in one word, it would be "satisfying". Just a really nice, sweet flavor with a refreshing, tart finish. It doesn't really taste like an IPA at all, despite its categorization. It has a nice hoppiness, but isn't harsh or bitter at all. This Beer is made with Brettanomyces, which are the wild yeasts that make Belgian beers so delicious.
All and all it was a really fun time. It was so hard to narrow down the list of great beers to just 5 though!