The Festival of Ales

I was fortunate this past weekend to have the opportunity to have one of my beers on display at the Festival of Ales, an annual beer festival held at Higgins Armory in Worcester, MA.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was a bit of an intimidating situation. Being the only “nano” brewer there among some of the bigger craft brew names in the business (Sam Adams, Wachusett, Goose Island, Boulevard, Magic Hat, Clown Shoes, Slumbrew) it was hard not to be a little shellshocked  being in the same room as these breweries.  Regardless it was an honor and a blast taking part in this glorified tasting and celebration of beer.

One of the companies I work for is The Homebrew Emporium, a company that works as a supply chain as well as a place that promotes and provides instruction for anyone interested in learning how to make their own beer, wine, cheese or soda.  Through the company I had the opportunity to set up and run a booth along with Bruce Lucier one of the company’s owners, at this event that promoted the company and also gave me a chance to display one of my favorite beer creations, 11:11 Brewing’s Rye Humor R.P.A.  Rye Humor which took home 3rd place in the hybrid beer category at last years New York Homebrew Alley Beer Competition, is one of the first recipes I came up with, and is an interesting spinoff on the standard IPA.  If you couldn’t tell by the name this beer is unique because of the usage of rye malt in the grain bill.  The grist (another word for the grain bill) is made up of about 40% rye.  Rye tends to add a slightly spicy note to the flavor of the beer.  That along with large amounts of Centennial, Cascade and Citra hops create a beer that is hoppy, spicy and contains bright notes of tropical fruits and grapefruit.  Bruce also had one of his beers on display at the event, a tasty Brown Ale, that was also received well.

While I have a lot of confident in this particular beer, I was very anxious to see what the people tasting the beer would think.  The event was sold out, and I am happy to say that by the end of the night the two kegs that I had brought with me were both tapped.  People kept coming back for more and on several occasions people came up to tell me it was one of their favorite beers of the night.  ( A couple of people even claimed it was their favorite)  While those comments were obviously reassuring, the most important thing I was able to take away from the comments and the lines in front of my table, was that at the very least my beer held up to the quality and taste of the other beers available at the event.

11:11 Rye Humor RPA on tap at The Festival of Ales

The event was a blast.  Unfortunately because of the traffic at my own booth I didn’t get a chance to taste as many of the different beers from other breweries that I would have liked to.  However I did get to taste several different brews.  Two beers that i tasted stood out to me more than the rest.  The first was Goose Island’s Harvest Ale.

Goose Island Harvest Ale

This beer was a tasty reminder that Fall is upon us.  Malty, balanced and very flavorful.  This autumn style beer was an easy drinker with characteristics of an Oktoberfest, but a very distinct and pleasant citrus hop tone.  The awesome guys over at the Goose Island booth gave me a 6-pack to bring home and I made them my beer of choice for the games this past sunday.  (I know it wasn’t one of the 5 beers I said I would be drinking while watching football.)

The other beer that really excited me was Hoppy Feet Black IPA from Clown Shoes Beer.  Black IPA’s are quickly becoming one of my favorites styles of beer.  While I do think there is a distinct difference from an IPA that is colored black and a Black IPA (a discussion for another post) I did find this beer very enjoyable, with a strong hop aroma and flavor, and a subtle roastiness from some of the dark malts used in the beer.

Hoppy Feet Black IPA from Clown Shoes Beer

If you come across either of these beers I highly suggest that you give them a shot.  Furthermore, if you haven’t started exploring the world of the Black IPAs it is time to jump on board, especially if you fancy yourself a fan of IPAs in general.

Anyways, the event went smoothly, my “nano beer” was well received and I got an opportunity to not only showcase my own beer and get the reactions of the people tasting it, but also the opportunity to sit and talk with people from all different breweries.  Obviously they are all in a position that I would like to be in, so picking their brains’ and trying to learn things from them was a phenomenal opportunity.

If you live in the Worcester area this is definetly an event you need to try and attend next year.  If not, look online wherever you live and try and find some local beer tasting events.  Not only are they a ton of fun, but if you like learning about, and experiencing new beers then they are the perfect way to spend a day/evening.

The Festival Ales at Higgins Armory

The front of our booth…check us out!

For a complete list of the breweries who were at this event check out this link...Festival of Ales

Categories: Beer

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