CraftBeer, Festivals

ACBF, Beer Week, Foodie Finds — Beantown, Pt. III

This is the last installment to our three-part Boston journey.
In continuation to ACBF, Beer Week, Foodie Finds — Beantown, Pt. II.

On June 3rd-4thBeerAdvocate in collaboration with Harpoon Brewery, held the 4th Annual American Craft Beer Festival at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA. Craft beer lovers from all over the United States attend this annual event to taste exclusive and hard-to-come-by craft beers with a special treat on beer education from brewers and fellow aficionados. Known as the biggest celebration of American craft beer on the east coast, this year’s ACBF featured 500+ craft beers for tasting enjoyment. Now you know that this is definitely an event that a beer lover does not want to miss.

So, we packed our bags and trekked 772 miles to Boston. Thanks to modern air transportation, we only had to patiently go through annoying TSA searches and were able to get there in 3 hours. The rest is foodie and craft beer lover heaven.

With 5000 tickets sold out and an anticipated full house, we planned on arriving at the event an hour before the gates opened. We were greeted by a legion of craft beer drinkers from all over the nation – both the young and the young at heart. Heck, maybe even from around the world! Who knows? But one thing was certain: It wasn’t going to be an easy task this time around. Doing the math, we needed to get in line with a 48-person average wait time at each brewer’s table. Keep in mind that we only had 3.5 hours to imbibe as many suds as we responsively could. We had initially mapped out how to proficiently and successfully maneuver with all brews but it all came crumbling down as the festival was just insane.

All of a sudden, there was a wave of jubilation signaling the opening of the gates. Geared with our maps, a fully charged camera, and with taste buds dying for hops, we marched in with one sole purpose – divide and conquer. Meaning that if we waited on separate lines, we’d have more to taste. Listed below were the brewers we chose and were able to check out in alphabetical order:

Anderson Valley Brewing Co. | Boonville, CA
-Boont Amber Ale – 5.8% American Amber/Red Ale
-Hop Ottin’ IPA – 7% American IPA
-Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema – 5.6% Cream Ale

Atwater Block Brewery | Detroit, MI
-Double Down Imperial Amber Ale – 7.5% American Amber / Red Ale
-Vanilla Java Porter – 6% American Porter
-Voodoovator – 9.5% Doppelbock
-Detroit Pale Ale – 6.2% Altbier
-Dirty Blonde Ale – 4.5% American Pale Wheat Ale
-Teufel Bock – 10.9% Weizenbock
-Über Ursa Pils – 6.8% American Double

Barrier Brewing Co. | Oceanside, NY
-Cairn – 7.2% Scotch Ale
-Rembrandt – 6.4% American Porter

Bar Harbor Brewing Co. | Bar Harbor, ME
-Thunder Hole Ale – 4.8% English Brown Ale
-Cadillac Mountain Stout – 6.7% American Stout

Beer Works – Fenway | Boston, MA
-Boston Red – 5.2% American Amber
-Double Pale Ale – 7.5% American Double

Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams) | Boston, MA
-Boston Lager – 4.9% Vienna Lager
-Cherry Wheat – 5.3% Fruit/Vegetable Beer
-Summer Ale – 5.2% American Pale Wheat Ale

Boulevard Brewing Co. | Kansas City, MO
-Dark Truth Stout – 9.7% American Double/Imperial Stout
-Double Wide IPA – 8.5% American Double/Imperial IPA
-Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale – 8% Saison/Farmhouse Ale
-The Sixth Glass – 10.5% Quadrupel 

Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, NY
-Main Engine Start – 6.2% Belgian Pale Ale
-Summer Ale – 5% English Pale Ale
-The Concoction – 6.8% Herbed/Spiced Beer

Butternuts Beer & Ale | Garrattsville, NY
-Moo Thunder Stout – 4.9% Milk/Sweet Stout
-Porkslap Pale Ale – 4.3% American Pale Ale
-Snapperhead – 6.8% American IPA

Cisco Brewers Inc. | Nantucket, MA
-Grey Lady – 4.5% Witbier
-Indie Pale Ale – 7.58% American IPA
-Pachish Woods – 4.9% American Wild Ale
-Sankaty Light – 3.8% Light Lager
-Summer of Lager – 6.25% Munich Helles Lager
-Whale’s Tale Pale Ale – 5.6% English Pale Ale

Clipper City Brewing Co./Heavy Seas Beer | Baltimore, MD
-Dubbel Cannon – 7.25% Belgian IPA
-Heavy Seas – Holy Sheet (Über Abbey Ale) – 9% Belgian Strong Dark
-Heavy Seas – Loose Cannon (Hop3 Ale) – 7.25% American IPA
-Heavy Seas – 5.75% Märzen/Oktoberfest
-Smoke on the Water – 8.00% Smoked Porter
-Summer Ale – 4.30% American Blonde Ale

Coastal Extreme Brewing Co. | Newport, RI
-Newport Storm Rhode Island Blueberry – 4.50% Fruit/Vegetable Beer
-Newport Storm – Quinn (Cyclone Series) – 12% American Porter

Element Brewing Co. | Miller Falls, MA 
-Dark Element – 8% American Black Ale
-Extra Special Oak – 7.75% English Strong Ale
-6:56 – 15% American Black Ale
-Red Giant – 8% American Amber/Red Ale

Flying Goose Brewpub & Grill | New London, NH
-Heidelberg Hefeweizen – 4.7% Hefeweizen
-Long Brothers Strong Ale – 6.8% American Strong Ale

Gardner Ale House | Gardner, MA
-Face-Off – 9.5% American Double/Imp. IPA
-Naked Stout – 3.9% Irish Dry Stout
-Summer’s End – 5.10% Kölsch

Geary’s Brewing Co. | Portland, ME
-Mullen’s American Wheat Ale – 5.00% American Pale Wheat Ale
-Hampshire Special Ale – 7% English Strong Ale
-IPA – 5.80% English India Pale Ale
-Barrel Aged Cask Ale – ?% ABV

Goose Island Beer Co. | Chicago, IL
-Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout – 13% American Double/Imperial Stout
-Matilda – 7% Belgian Strong Ale
-Lolita – 7% American Wild Ale
-Sofie – 6.5% Saison/Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale

Meeting Goose Island's founder and CEO, John Hall.

Grand Teton Brewing Co. | Victor, ID
-Bitch Creek ESB – 6% American Brown Ale
-Lost Continent Double IPA – 8% American Double/Imperial IPA
-Pursuit of Hoppiness – 8% American Amber/Red Ale
-The Grand Saison – 7.5% Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Gritty McDuff’s Brewing | Portland, ME
-Best Bitter – 5% English Bitter
-Black Fly Stout – 4.1% Irish Dry Stout 

Ithaca Beer Co. | Ithaca, NY
-Apricot Wheat – 4.9% Fruit/Vegetable Beer
-Flower Power IPA – 7.5% American IPA

Jackie O’s  Pub & Brewry
-Berliner Weiss -4% Weissbier
-Bourbon Barrel-Aged Raccoon Dubbel – 9% Dubbel
-Dark Apparition – 10.5% Russian Imperial Stout
-Hocking Triple – 8% Tripel

Lagunitas Brewing Co. | Petaluma, CA
-A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale – 7.5% American Pale Wheat Ale
-Hop Stoopid – 8% American Double/Imperial IPA
-IPA – 6.2% American IPA
-Wilco Tango Foxtrot (WTF) – 7.83% Imperial Brown Ale

Lake Placid Pub And Brewery | Lake Placid, NY
-Lake Placid Hefeweizen – 5.5% Hefeweizen
-IPA – 6.8% American IPA

Left Hand Brewing Co. | Longmont, CO
-400 Pound Monkey – 6.7% English IPA
-Milk Stout – 5.2% Milk/Sweet Stout
-Beer Week Sauce Coffee Porter – 6.00% American Porter

Mayflower Brewing Co. | Plymouth, MA 
-Golden Ale – 4.7% American Blonde Ale
-IPA – 7% American IPA
-Mayflower Pale Ale – 4.9% English Pale Ale
-Summer Rye – 3.8% Rye Beer

Notch Brewing | Ipswich, MA
-Dark Mild – 3.7% English Dark Mild Ale
-Session Pils – 4% Czech Pilsener

Offshore Ale Co. | Oak Buffs, MA
-East Chop Lighthouse – 4.7% American Blonde Ale
-Islander Double IPA – 8% American Double/Imperial IPA
-Menemsha Creek Pale Ale – 5.5% American Pale Ale
-Beach Road Nut Brown Ale –  ?%ABV English-Style Brown Ale

Olde Burnside Brewing Co. | East Hartford, CT
-Dirty Penny Ale – 5% Imperial Black & Tan
-Penny Weiz Ale – 5.3% Witbier
-Stone of Destiny – 11% American Strong Ale
-Ten Penny Ale – 5.5% Scottish Ale
-Ten Penny Ale Reserve – 9.3% Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy

OPA-OPA Steakhouse & Brewery | Southhampton, MA
-Red Rock Amber Ale – 6% American Amber/Red Ale
-Watermelon Lager – ?%ABV American Amber/Red Lager
-King Oak Milk Stout – 5% Milk/Sweet Stout

Paper City Brewery Co. | Holyoke, MA
-Fogbuster Coffee House Ale – 8.5% Imperial/Strong Porter 
-Cabbot Street Wheat – 5.5% Hefeweizen

Prodigal Brewing Co. | Effingham, NH
-Rev Potters Baltic Porter – 7% Baltic Porter

Redhook Ale Brewery | Portsmouth, NH
-Copperhook – 5.7% American Amber/Red Ale
-Redhook Wit – 5.3% Witbier

Rogue Ales | Newport, OR
-Chatoe Rogue First Growth OREgasmic Ale – 6% American Pale Ale
-Chocolate Stout – 6% American Stout
-John John Juniper – 5.2% Herbed/Spiced Beer

Sebago Brewing Co. | Gorham, ME
-Full Throttle Double IPA – 9.1% American Double/Imperial IPA
-Bourbon Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout – ?%ABV American Stout

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. | Chico, CA
-Ovila Abbey Dubbel – 7.5% Dubbel
-Kellerweis Hefeweizen – 4.8% Hefeweizen
-Pale Ale – 5.6% American Pale Ale
-Southern Hemisphere Harvest  Fresh Hop Ale – 6.7% American IPA
-Summerfest Lager – 5% Czech Pilsener

 Sixpoint Craft Ales | Brooklyn, NY
-Bengali Tiger – 6.4% american IPA
-Righteous Ale – 6.3% Rye Beer
-Sehr Crisp Pilsner – 5.4% German Pilsener
-Sweet Action – 5.2% Cream Ale

Three Heads Brewing | Rochester, NY
-Blimey English-Style Pale Ale – 6% ESB
-Java Sutra Coffee Porter – 6.5% American Porter
-Ontario Coast IPA – 7.5% Belgian IPA
-Skunk Black IPA – 6.5% American Black Ale
-The Kind IPA – 6.8% American IPA

Trinity Brewhouse | Providence, RI
-Decadence – 10% American Double/Imperial IPA
-Mercy Brown Imperial Brown Ale – 9% American Brown Ale
-REDRUM Imperial Red – 10% American Strong Ale
-Rhode Island IPA – 7.5% American IPA

Uinta Brewing Co. | salt Lake City, UT
-Dubhe Imperial Black IPA – 9.2% American Double/Imperial IPA
-Labyrinth Black Ale – 13.2% American Double/Imperial Stout
-Sum’R – 4% American Blonde Ale
-Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner – 9% American Double/Imperial Pilsner

White Birch Brewing | Hookset, NH
-Barrel Aged Elysium – 11.7% American Double/Imperial Stout
-Hop Session Ale – 5.1% American Amber/Red Ale

The hungryDUO official ACBF 2011 pose.

After the 3.5-hour nonstop tasting, chatting with brewers and getting branded (thanks, Rogue), the pleasure of mentally remembering and summarizing the pros and cons, the highlights and whatnots of the session had to be traced. The obvious winners for us were Element Brewing Co, Goose Island Beer Co, and Butternuts Beer & Ale with their 6:56 Double Dark, Sofie and Moo Thunder Stout, respectively. With the 6:56’s high ABV (15%), it was really surprising that the booze was as smooth as, if not smoother, than the regular Dark. Hints of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and roasted malts that balance each other out quite well. Overall, it was a nice Black Ale. Definitely worth every penny! Goose Island’s Sofie was refreshingly crisp, a perfect pairing to a hot summer day. We are definitely stocking up. And lastly, the Moo Thunder Stout from Butternuts was “a little miracle in a can”. Approaching the brewer’s table and seeing beer being poured from cans, we weren’t sure what to think. Surprisingly enough, the Moo Thunder Stout proved to be an amazing session beer — medium body with a clean aftertaste, silky and smooth. Would love to get our hands on some more!

Our disappointments:
-Clown Shoes – The rest of our crew got to sample the brews. We were advised to “save your time”. Disappointing and heartbreaking as we were really looking forward to tasting them. But don’t worry, when opportunity knocks again we will definitely try the brews and judge them accordingly.
-Flying Goose – We thought that the Heidelberg Hefeweizen was over carbonated and almost plasticky to the taste.
-The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery – The long line at their table proved to be a successful night for them. But hopefully those beer aficionados weren’t disappointed with the mundane selection that was brought to the festival. Not even a Summer brew? Com’on!
-Dump buckets and water stations – We thought that they were sparse. It was annoying to ask busy pourers to dump your excess beer for you without getting that piercing look accompanied by a fake smile. The water stations placed in the middle of the room were a hike from the corners of the room. We did appreciate some brewers who had their own washers at their stations. You guys were on top of it!

Boston Harbor at Sunset

And of course, you have your rowdy, drunk douchebags at the festival spilling drinks everywhere. But what’s a regular beer fest without its imperfections? Learn from it and enjoy every minute of the festival. Construct a plan if you must. During festivals, don’t waste your time on beers you already know. Focus on brews that are new and inviting. Jot down notes. Remember that each palate is different so please take our critiques with a grain of salt.

Overall, Boston was amazing — friendly atmosphere jeweled by great food and fresh brewed craft beers. We will definitely be back. Cheers!

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About hungryDUO

Saving the world as they share their affinity for food, craft beer, and wine one tasty morsel and sip at a time, hungryDUO is a beer connoisseur and wine enthusiast team whose passion is all things edible and mouth-orgasmic. They eat, drink, blog, and love. Repeat & Shuffle. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Google for more up to the minute updates and randomosity.

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