SouthernEM, Baumbusch and RandumInk. With the possibility of a torrential downpour, we decided to get the Seaport very early hoping to be covered by its colossal overhang. We succeeded and an added bonus, we were extremely close to the front of the line... SUCCESS!! During the next hour, we developed a minor game plan to hit the booths that really sparked our interest. The following are the highlights of this plan and its ultimate demise in the face of delicious craft beer.
Lawson's Finest Liquids. With all other booths clear of attendees Lawson's already had a line for fifty drooling and salivating beer drinkers. Between the four of us, we were able to try all four offerings: Double Sunshine IPA, Maple Tripple, Knockout Blonde and Permagrin Rye Pale Ale. I sampled the, Maple Tripple, winner of the World Beer Cup silver medal for Specialty Beer in 2012. It was absolutely AMAZING! This brew was a concoction of maple syrup, brown sugar, earthy bitterness and balanced malt character. At 12% ABV, this beer is extremely smooth and surprisingly drinkable. In my opinion, Sean Lawson is among the greatest brewers in the United States with a beer portfolio that must be envious of American brewers. If you ever the chance to buy, drink or sample his products, do so and they wont disappoint.
DC Brau Brewing Co. on our floor plan and quickly headed in their direction before a line formed. Having returned from DC two weeks prior to the festival, I had already sampled The Citizen and The Public Ale, so I decided to select, On the Wings of Armageddon. This Imperial IPA had a hazy orange hue with a pungent aroma of citrus with a hint of spice. Even in my small sampling glass, the head and its retention were remarkable. This very hop forward ale was an excellent contrast to the sweetness of the Maple Tripple. I have come to really appreciate this brewery and their offerings. I wish them all the best during SAVOR week in DC!
After sampling from these two booths, our plan fell apart, so here are my highlights from the rest of afternoon.
I was very lucky to find two amazing summer beers Apollo from Sixpoint and Gold Standard Export Kellerbier from Brooklyn Brewery because neither brewery was included in the original "plan." Apollo, a Kristalweizen, was very light, crisp and refreshing. It burst with banana and melon with excellent backing from the light wheat malts. Gold Standard Export, a Keller Bier, had a very nice grain quality that worked extremely well with the lemon zest and tartness. Garrett Oliver et al. hit a home run honoring this rare and unique beer style.
During the middle of the fest, we noticed that the Cambridge Brewing Company line was very short, so we decided to stop allowing @Baumbusch to sample multiple brews. To our astonishment, the 2010 vintage of Arquebus was still available for tasting. This "summer" barleywine is like none other with its cornucopia of fruit flavors thats includes apricot, pear, melon and apple. These fruits are coupled with subtle oak and vanilla notes creating a very pleasant initial taste. Once these fruits and barrel-aging characteristics wash over the palate, a wave of tartness finalizes the taste profile of this amazing interpretation of the barleywine style.
The biggest surprise of the festival came when we stopped at the Enlightenment Ales booth. Head brewer, Ben Howe, formerly of Cambridge Brewing Company, is now producing three styles of beer, Biere de Champagne (Brut), Table Beer and Saison. While his table beer and saison are well crafted beers, the brut was simply amazing. The labor intensive process of creating this beer style shone with every sip. It was hard to believe that something so refreshing with such a light mouthfeel could reach 11 ABV. White fruits, apple, melon and pear created a fruitiness that worked on levels. WHAT A BEER!
The ABCF is a great beer event and one that I look forward to every year. I can't wait to see what the Alstrom Brothers and American craft brewers have up their collective sleeves for next year!
Top three beers:
1. Weizen Stout - Rising Tide Brewing Company
2. On the Wings of Armageddon - DC Brau
3. Maple Tripple - Lawson's Finest Liquids