Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summerfest: Much more than just Saison

This passed weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at Drink Craft Beer’s Summerfest. You may have seen me, I was passing out cups at the entrance during both sessions on Saturday.

Keeper of the Cups
From a volunteer's perspective I have to give a major thanks to Jeff and Devon and Jeff Lawrence for making it one of my favorites. I think it was the simple instruction to, “keep the brewers happy,” that made it such a great success.  Happy brewers make for happy patrons and happy patrons make for happy volunteers, so everyone wins!

Between handing out cups, emptying buckets and lugging ice, I had the chance to sample a few beers that have been on my list for a while, as well as a couple beers brewed specifically for the festival. Here are a few standouts:

#1.  Harpoon Saison. Brewed specifically for Summerfest with bananas, grapefruit and oranges, each of these ingredients added to the already fruity/citrusy Saison. I went back to try this one again later in the evening just to make sure I loved it…yup, I did.

#2. Night Shift Rose Au Poivre and Viva Habanera. Both of these beers were unique in their use of special ingredients. Rose Au Poivre is brewed with rosemary and aged on red peppercorns, which are both quite prominent in the flavor and Viva Habanera employs chili peppers, which provide flavor as well as a mild heat. Each time I try a new Night Shift beer I can’t help but think about pairing it with food.

#3 Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA. What else can I say that hasn’t already been said about this magnificent specimen of an IPA?  You’ll die and think you went to Citra heaven. Flavorful, juicy, Citra hops attack the palate with a monsoon of tropical fruit and citrusy flavors. I need to find bottles of this as soon as possible.

#4 Slumbrew Rising Sun. A little-known and under-produced style, Slumbrew’s take on German Dampfbier employs the same wheat beer yeast as their Happy Sol. Caramel malty with hints of earthy hops and subtle toastiness, man, am I a sucker for obscure styles!

At the end of the night the stage at the Armory was filled with pizza and Idle Hands and Night Shift opened their taps to the volunteers.  Cleanup was pretty quick with a lot of the staff remaining and I think I managed to get home well before midnight. I’d say “I can wait for next year,” but I hope Jeff and Devon don’t wait that long to host another festival…Winterfest anyone?

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