Re-posted from my blog, Malted Musings.
This past Monday Eli Cannon's Tap Room kicked off their Beer God's Week with their 2nd Annual Beer Fest. The weather this year was great (though the downpour last year did add a lot of character to the tasting), attendance was up, and over 20 breweries were represented. For a full list of breweries represented, just skip right to the end of the article.
|Sunshine, smiles, and beer. Courtesy: Marisa Pellerin Photography|
JD Crandall was the leading force for Beer God's Week. He has recently taken on all the big activities and bar events for Eli Cannon's, and this was his first really large event (even though the tap flash mob was no small feat either). As a beer brewer and aficionado himself, JD is uniquely suited to bringing in quality beer and beer-related events to the people of greater Middlesex county. This event, says Crandall, required a significant amount of planning becuase he wanted a lot of breweries, and a lot of beer: with no exceptions. Some beer fests cater to one distributor or another, Crandall pushed instead to have the greatest amount of beer he could gather saying,"I wanted to get the most beer under one tent."
At the end of the day the beer fest went from around 15 breweries last year to over 20 this year. In terms of attendance the fest doubled from 50 to right around 100. When asked why have a beer fest on a Monday (instead of the traditional weekend) Crandall reports that he likes to view the Fest as an explosive way to kick off Beer God's week, so it can end with a chill luau on Friday (which has been rescheduled for this Wednesday due to the torrential rain we got). In this way Beer God's week starts big and ends with a pleasing wrap-up, staying well paced throughout (kind of like a finely balanced beer).
|Probably one of the few beer fests I've been to where there's actually a place to sit! Courtesy:
Marisa Pellerin Photography
Asked about his new responsibility (and power) as bar manager at Eli Cannon's, Crandall says that he is really enjoying it so far. He enjoys learning about different craft beers and brewers, because even the most experienced beer drinker can always learn more about this ever-expanding craft. Another vital part of his new position that Crandall enjoys is the community connection that goes along with working with craft breweries. Crandall's philosophy of including every brewery in his events promotes working with breweries that may just be starting out locally (like Relic), or breweries that are seeing new distribution throughout Connecticut (such as Clown Shoes, Six Point, and Green Flash). Looking ahead Crandall is planning an "End of the World Party" at Eli Cannon's as well as more lineups of great beers for future tastings.
There were 23 breweries at the tasting: Ace Ciders, Beaver Beer, Blue Pint, Boulder, Brookyln, Cisco, Goose Island, Green Flash, Harpoon, Lagunitas, Lake Placid, Relic, Saranac, Olde Burnside, Oskar Blues, Sebago, Sierra Nevada, Sixpoint, Souther Tier, Stone, Stony Creek, Thomas Hooker, and Widmer Brothers. I tried a few new beers at the fest that I rather enjoyed as well. Olde Burnside has a new beer called Hopt Scot out now, that's a English style IPA with bready malts and light bitterness. Saranac has a new Blueberry Blonde, and a High Peak Lemon Ginger that I particularly loved. The Lemon Ginger is a big saison style that has a slight ginger bite in the beginning that builds towards the end and is eventually balanced out by great sweet malt. Other notable beer included Stone's Smoked Porter with Chipolte, Stony Creek 203 IPA (a local CT session brew that was a fantastic mild IPA), and Sierra Nevada with Russian River's Brux. The Brux was my favorite beer that I tried at the fest. It was a big saison-style (called a domesticated wild ale) with heady fruit notes that were balanced out by dry, easy bitterness that brought the beer to a pleasing, slightly spicy finsh. It was a fantastic sasion, and definitely a beer to snap up before it's gone.
|Courtesy: Marisa Pellerin Photography|
A cool trend that I saw at the fest was cans: it seems like most breweries are at least dabbling with packaging their brews in tin. They've been doing it out west for years, and its a practice that I really agree with: it's easier on the environment and easier on everyone's wallet (both the brewer and the consumer). Harpoon was there with some canned UFO that was fantastic. There's nothing like drinking sweet, light beer out of a can: it all reads very summer to me! Harpoon has some exciting things progressing too. They are releasing their Pumpkin soon, and will be trying a new Pumpkin Cider as well. They have a "Tail Gater" pack coming out that will feature their IPAs and Oktoberfetst ready to be lugged out to whatever party or event that you may be going to. Along with that they have a new Leviathan around the bend that will be called Red Square. It's gonna be a big red beer hopped with galaxy hops that I am psyched to try.
Stay tuned for a wrap up of the other Beer God's Week events, and for more coverage of CT beer events be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger.