Last weekend, Boston once again played host to Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Festival where some of the country’s best and most innovative breweries come to showcase their talents. This year’s event was certainly no exception and there was plenty of great beer to be had. The trend this year seemed to be Wild Ales, which after last year’s gauntlet of barrel aged stouts was a nice change of pace and certainly made for a faster recovery the day after. While Science and beer historians will have to excuse my lack of detailed notes, there were a few standouts for me that deserve mention.
Individual Beer Highlights
Other Half – All Green Everything: My first beer of the festival and also one of the most amazing. It beat out even my first taste of Surly Abrasive as my favorite DIPA of the fest. Fantastic blend of citrusy and piney hops made this one really shine.
Tree House – Good Morning: An awesome Imperial Stout that would be quite the way to start a morning. Thick bodied with tons of coffee, cocoa, and a hint of maple syrup. First sip instantly dispelled any disappointment that Tree House didn’t have one of their IPAs available. Well worth waiting in one of the longer lines for.
Kane – A Night to End All Dawns: Another big Imperial Stout. Bourbon barrel goodness at its best.
Jackie O’s – Cucumber Ginger Berliner Weiss: Picked this on a recommendation and was very glad I did. I generally haven’t liked the cucumber beers I’d come across before but this one is definitely an exception. The cucumbers are a nice mellow presence up against the initial tartness and the ginger blends in quite well into the background.
Cascade – Cherry Bourbonic Plague: Really tart Wild Ale with lot of cherry. Could have used a bit more of this one to really appreciate everything going on in the beer.
Collective Brewery Highlights
Funky Buddha: We braved one of the longest lines of the fest and were well rewarded for doing so. Thanks to the good folks pouring at the booth and the event volunteer staff, things moved along rather quickly and efficiently. We coordinated our samples to try French Toast (Brown Ale), Key Lime Berliner, and No Crusts (a PB&J inspired Brown Ale). Each beer smelled and tasted right in line with the food that inspired them and they were really cool to try.
Rare Barrel: This brewery stole the show for me. Went through their modest line 4 times to try each of the Wild Ales they were pouring, Map of the Sun, Apropos of Nothing, Forces Unseen, and Ensorcelled. Each was quite good and having them all at the same table was outstanding. If forced to pick just one, I would say my favorite was the raspberry aged Ensorcelled but there wasn’t a bad choice to be made at that booth.
NERAX: The NERAX cask beer table was a highlight again for me this year. Night Shift’s SoPool, a sour blend of their Whirlpool Pale Ale and Ithaca’s Flower Power IPA with grapefruit and dry hopped with Citra and Apollo were both excellent. Aeronaut’s Bonsoir Quad was also good, though not quite in the same standing as the first two.
Otter Creek/Long Trail: Since casks have been a pretty big part of my beer experiences this year, I should also mention the three available at the booth shared by the festival’s Vermont contingent, Otter Creek and Long Trail. Otter Creek offered Sunshine Daydream, a festival exclusive cask of their Fresh Slice IPA aged on grapefruit, and Chem Dawg IPA, dry hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Cascade. On the Long Trail side, their Chateugay Moonshine Bandit Barley Wine cask was also quite interesting. Very sweet upfront and aged with spruce tips and oak, this was a very well made beer.