Thursday, June 9, 2011
Shipping up to Boston
This past weekend I was invited to help out Mike Roy from Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery and General Store, pouring beer for the BeerAdvocates American Craft Beer Festival. Three session over two days with 106 breweries in attendance with 506 beers being poured. I had made my short list of breweries and beers I wanted to try so not waste time or precious liver function with beers I have had before. Of course before I could enjoy my first sip of beer we had to get there. Mike Roy, Chris Graham (Mike's former intern and recent employee of DC Brau who's 1st day of work was the Monday after we returned)and myself left Maryland around 5:30am. Couple of stops here and there and we were in Boston in what seemed like a couple of hours not 8 and half. We hit town around 2pm and we and 105 other breweries were jocking for position to get into the Seaport World Trade Center to set up our booth and get our beers iced down for the 6pm session. Most breweries brought 4-5 styles in large quantities for the event, Mike decided to bring 10 beers each in smaller quantities to showcase the beers made at the Hyattsville Brew Pub. You are probably asking yourself why a Brewpub from Maryland that does not distribute beer past it's door be interested in going to a festival with the likes of Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada and Boston Beer Co.? We must have been asked the same question 50 times a session (along with jeers and good hearted ribbing about my Orioles hat). The answer is Mike Roy is from New Hampshire and knows just about every brewer in the area it was like a big homecoming for him. Also I was surprised to have people take business cards and say that they were visiting DC soon and were going to stop by while in town or they come to DC for work and have been looking for a good place for beer. I also ran into some folks from home; The Godfather of Baltimore Beer Week, Joe Gold, Hugh Sisson and Bond Distributor extraordinaire Matt Crow.I Sampled a lot of good beers and met a lot of good folks. A highlight at the Smuttynose Booth, was meeting Paul from my favorite Beer Label and got my picture taken with him. The word on the street is that Cy passed away last year.
Lines for Pretty Things, Surly, Clown Shoes, Duck Rabbit were the longest during every session and I would have to sneak up the side of the booths during my break or be stuck in line the entire time. Sadly breweries like Oscar Blues, Victory, Stouts and Six Points all poured their beers from bottles and cans, not that it was bad but, I always hope for an interesting twist to a staple beer or a one off at these events but I could be jaded with all of the years attending The Extreme Beer Fest also held here in Boston. Friday after the 6-9:30 session there was an after party for the Industry folks at the Harpoon Brewery about three blocks away right on the water. We had a chance to hang out, relax, talk beer and eat some great food The Brewers association of Massachusetts had for everyone. We got a 2 cent tour of the facility from a brewer that Mike knew and was amazed at the Automation of the 150BBL massive brewery. We caught a cab to our Hotel just before midnight knowing we had to do this twice again on Saturday. Woke Up Saturday and had some time to relax and catch up on the scores on ESPN. We took a cab to China Town and ate at a Dim Sum Restaurant that Mike used to frequent. I have had a lot of meals before beer festivals but Dim Sum is now at the top of the list for laying down a base for a day of drinking. We got to the Seaport about an hour before the first session was to begin and we refreshed our ice and made sure our taps were running smoothly. I lucked out to take my break first and got in line before the crowds had time to swarm. Some of my favorite beers from the weekend were Pretty Things Best Regards (Barleywine), Baby Tree (Quad) and Fluffy White Rabbits(Trippel); Surley Darkness, Bender and Furious, Six Points Sweet Action(Cream Ale). I also enjoyed all of the beers Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City had to offer. They were pouring Sixth Glass(Quad), Double-Wide I.P.A., Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, Dark Truth Imp Stout all bottle conditioned. Anyone who knows me I knows I am drawn to beers made with Ringwood yeast, good or bad I am amazed how different these beers can be. Gritty McDuffs had some decent beers but I was in heaven with the 'Alan Pugsly Signature Series' beers that Shipyard was pouring. They had a Smashed Blueberry, Smashed Pumpkin and my favorite was an American Double IPA. All clocked in at 9% and were really good and complex. The surprise brewery was Lawson's Finest Liquids out of Warren, Vermont. They are a 1 BBl Brewery and has won awards at GABF and World beer Cup and has already done a Collaboration with The Bruery. The Collaboration was called Acer Quercus and was Stout brewed with Maple Syrup, Dates and Maple Wood Smoked malt. A fantastic pallet challenging beer I'm glad I had this one early in the day on Saturday to enjoy it. They also were pouring a Double IPA called Double Sunshine. The hop aroma was flooring and the flavor was fantastic. I would put Double Sunshine up against any of the top Double IPA's, East or West Coast. I did 'work' a lot pouring between having these fine beers and by the end of the Saturday late session all I wanted to do was sleep but we had to break down pack up the car. The party was just getting started for most locals because it was also Game 2 of the Stanly Cup Finals for the Bruins. We finally rolled out about 10:45 and made our way to Mike's parents house to spend the night. The next morning we had breakfast with Mike's parents and some family members that stopped by and hit the road for home. We got back to my house at about 8:00pm Sunday and sadly it dawned on me that I had to go back to work in just a couple of hours. This trip cemented Boston as one of my favorite cities to visit, we had a great weather, met some good folks and drank some great beers.