Beer festivals are a wonderful invention…

How can you go wrong with a beer festival?

I mean, it’s truly a brilliant idea to start with. You take about 5000-7000 people, pack them into a park area roughly the size of a city block, then give them unlimited free beer for a few hours. Taster glasses, of course, because we’re not here to get drunk but to try new and different brews.

So I went to the Raleigh Beer festival this weekend, and tried, oh, about 70-ish of the beers that were available. Lots of local brews, which I was happy with. I did not know North Carolina had so many microbreweries, but there were freakin’ dozens of them represented there.

The entire crew at the Raleigh Beer Festival

Met some new people, had dozens of people compliment me on my choice of t-shirt (good choice dad!), and had a lot of quality brews.

Notably good was the beer from Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill, NC. Their Blueberry Wheat was excellent, and I quite liked the Old Well White too. The Leaderboard Lager was quite good as well, albeit a very plain and simple beer. Something you could drink a lot of, a quality lager. I sampled most of their beers, and those really stood out to me.

The Foothills brewery from Winston-Salem was excellent as well. I worked my way through their entire lineup that was there, and it was very good all around. The Pilot Mountain Pale Ale was extremely good for a simple brew, and their IPAs were awesome as well. The Hoppyum was quite hoppy in particular, but the double IPA that they had was extreme in this respect. I like IPA’s, but after a few of them I feel like I’ve been chewing on grass for a while, so I appreciated their Pale Ale a bit more. Also, I’d been to the Dogfish Head booth a number of times already, and their 90 minute IPA had already done a number on me there.

Mimosas The next day we got mimosas.

The girls (and Rob) got theirs with pomegranate juice. I needed my OJ fix a bit too much for that sort of thing.

Also, note to self, cherries have hard pits in them that are not tasty to crunch.

Anyway, good time all around. Would have been perfect if Northwest had not screwed me over on the flight home to the tune of 3.5 hours worth of delay, but still I had a good time. Rob and Mandy’s place is awesome, and I hope to go back sometime soon. If only to visit Top of the Hill and try all the rest of the excellent beers that I missed out on this trip. Plus, gotta try that pool out. :)

Dogfish Head Beer Tasting – Review

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Flying Saucer last night. They had a Dogfish Head beer tasting event, where we got to try five different Dogfish Head beers along with a five course tasting meal to go with the beers and such.

First: By far, my favorite was the Midas Touch. It was an excellent beverage, extremely smooth. The contents of it are unusual (as with all Dogfish Head beers), and it had a flavor which I’m somewhat unable to describe. Very mellow and mead-like, but not overpoweringly so. Strong as heck (9%) but you can’t tell at all. A very complicated beer.

Second: The Festina Peche, which was not a beer that I was expecting them to have. It’s a wheat beer, but they called it a “Neo-Berliner” which was new to me. It had the most variation in flavor of any beer that night, very sweet at first, turning almost sour by the 4th-5th taste. High in carbonation (for a beer), but surprisingly low in alcohol (only 4.5%). Excellent flavor though, and I will pick it up again when I find it.

Third: The 90 Minute IPA. For those of you that know me, you probably know that I hate IPA’s. Really, really hate them. However, the 90 Minute IPA really does an amazing job of hiding the hop flavors with the sweet flavors at the start. I did discover that if you block the sweet flavors by eating some bread just before taking a drink, then it’s extremely hoppy. All the hop flavor comes out when you can’t taste the sweetness.

Fourth: Raison d’Etre. This is one I’ve had many times before, it’s a beer made with green raisins and Belgian yeasts. It’s a good beer, but many people don’t like it because it’s slightly sour flavored and very malty. Note that by ranking this 4th, I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying that the other three were better. :)

Fifth: The 60 Minute IPA. It’s a pretty average IPA, but with a lot more hops than per normal. The hop flavor is immediately apparent as it’s way overhopped. I have to say that while I can drink this beer, I don’t really care for it much. It’s a high alcohol beer (6%) for a low alcohol price, and that’s a good thing. It’s also a much better beer than many others on the market. However, it’s very much an IPA with a huge amount of hops, and I don’t care for that style of beer myself. But if you like IPAs, you’ll love it.

Unranked: The 120 Minute IPA. Mikey was lucky enough to procure the “Golden Ticket” and thus win one of the coveted bottles of their heavy-duty IPA. We also procured a couple of other floating bottles, so I got to taste this one fairly well. The short of it is that that it’s very strong. At 18%, it’s not messing around when it comes to the alcohol. It’s also very heavily hopped, but honestly, the alcohol hides that flavor. Again, I tried the bread trick, and it worked, you can really taste the hops when the sweet alcohol is hidden from your palate. I do not recommend doing this trick on this beer however, as it tasted like I had chewed on a handful of hop pellets. It’s that strong. On the whole, however, it’s a good beer, but it’s more like a fine wine. Sip it. Slowly.

The food was delicious as well, and whoever thought of mixing the Peche wheat beer with orange sherbet is a sheer genius. Same goes for the Beef Stew and the 90 minute IPA.

The guy from Dogfish Head mentioned that they’re bringing their beers into more Memphis liquor stores. Apparently we have a 6% law I did not know about, so you’ll likely only be able to find the stuff in liquor stores and not general grocery stores. Some of their beers are well worth the extra trip, so I plan on making some liquor store runs soon and seeing what I can find.