#Beer Summit 2012…a hazy, disjointed recap…

Dad and I attended the day session of the 2012 Beer Summit in Boston yesterday, and now after 24 hours to allow my liver to recover and some of the haze to clear, I’m going to take a stab at a quasi-recap of the event and all the glorious beer that was available.  The event was held at the Park Plaza Castle in Boston, which gave a big, open room that was set up with a middle island of vendors, as well as booths all along the perimeter.

Upon entry, you were handed a booklet listing the brewers and the beer they brought with them, as well as a map with the layout of the brewers.  In theory, the map was a nice touch, but after making a lap and getting piled in with everyone, it was much easier just to explore and wing it.  We got in with the first wave of 100 people or so, so the first lap around was a breeze, with no wait in line and not a lot of congestion walking through.  By the second lap, this place was packed in tight, so you got to work on your dexterity while balancing a mini-mug of beer and any of the swag you may have scored from the brewers.  Of course, as one might imagine, this task got more daunting the more laps around we made.  Our session ran from 12:30-4:00, so many laps were made.

There was a very good selection of local brewers and their offerings, as well as some local distributors bringing out the beers that they offer to the local patrons and stores.  As we made our initial laps around we primarily aimed for breweries that were either new to us or were just outside of where we could easily travel to/visit.  As the day went on, all plans went out the window and we just tried whatever was being poured.  We bounced back and forth like pinballs on speed.  Most of the brewers had at least three beers on-tap to sample, although a few had only two, and some had four or five.  There weren’t any ultra-rare or hard to find beers being offered, so the lines tended to flow smoothly, with only minimal waiting here and there.  If you had a mini-mug poured and went to get into the next line, you had more than enough beer to tide you over while the line quickly progressed.  This actually allowed for some walking and maneuvering time between samples.  There was a concession area where you could purchase chili, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, or giant pretzels.  Giant pretzels are the way we chose to go, three times over to be exact.  Not too many strong flavors to interfere with the beer, and plenty of absorption qualities for the well-being of the taster.  That almost worked for me, but that story is for a later time.  There was also a booth selling pretzel necklaces for $4 a piece, which is genius, because we saw dozens of people wearing them, and a bag of pretzels probably makes at least 2 or 3 necklaces, which is a huge profit!

The only gripes we could come up with were minimal ones.  The first was that they allowed smoking directly outside of the front door where all of the port-o-johns were, so if you had to pee (and let me tell you that is inevitable) you had to wallow through all the cancer sticks.  The second was that there were no dump/rinse stations.  Granted, the beers there were very decent, but every once in a while you are going to come across one that isn’t up your alley, and there was no place to ditch the wounded soldier and get a clean start in the mug.  Other than that, it was a fun event.  We got to try some local fare from the craft beer world and make an unofficial “to visit” list of breweries in New England.

As unofficial as I can make it, there are some winners (in our eyes) from the event yesterday.  In no particular order, the Danielson Seal(s) of Approval go out to:

1- Crabbie’s Ginger Beer – the guy pouring told us this was the beverage’s debut weekend stateside.  The brew, according to him, is a huge hit in the UK, and I gotta say it was damn tasty.  Low ABV, and he served it chilled with a lime.  This would make a kickass Dark N Stormy, too.  Worth finding, if you can, although he said initial offering was only about 9 states.

2- Flying Goose Chocolate Milk Stout – just as tasty as the name implies, with a smooth body and mouthfeel, well-balanced flavors, and a clean finish.  Looking forward to visiting this brewery as soon as possible.

3- Gardner Ale House Wicked Big Stout – a bigger, heavier, higher ABV stout that remains very drinkable and dry.  Bold flavors and palate pleasing, this is a great beer from “The only brewpub in North Central, MA.”

4- Ipswich 5 Mile Pumpernickel Rye Porter – The 5 Mile series crafts beers using only ingredients within a five-mile radius of the brewery, and this one is dark, smooth, robust, and oh so tasty.  You truly get a diverse blending of dark grain flavors on a creamy smooth body.  Delicious.

5- Peak Organic Espresso Amber – normally you see coffee and espresso flavors tagging along with darker styles like Porters and Stouts, so I was intrigued to spot an Amber touting such a dark, roasty character.  This is a damn good beer, with the full flavors of the Espresso imparting their bitter and heavy flavor profiles on an extremely drinkable Amber body.  This one is worth tracking down, folks.

6- Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA – a new offering from Shipyard, this is a tasty, light, and bright IPA.  Should be available by the end of next week throughout New England.  There are 2 other beers named Monkey Fist available out and about, so this may get renamed, but no matter what the name, it’s an IPA worth picking up!

7- Revival Double Black IPA – just what the name describes, this is a dark, heavy, bold, boozey IPA that is easy to drink, very layered on the palate, and tasty.  Revival is a small brewery in Providence, RI, and worth a visit, as they are not bottling/distributing as of this writing.  Delicious beer, and they have an IPA that is very decent, too.

So, the big thing to take from this is that a festival is an easy way to sample beers from all over, but sometimes a good way to sample some things closer to you than you may realize and open your eyes to some new day excursions.  Also, pretzels can do the job of beer absorption during an event, but do not sabotage said pretzel plans with nasty, greasy food shortly afterwards and you should be just fine.  Trust me.  And the bottom line, as always, is to have fun and keep an open mind.  These things are a blast!  Get out there, explore, and drink educated my friends!

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