Most of the magic circle seemed to be heading for the Friday night run of the 13th annual Summer Beer Festival. Never one to be left out, I snatched up Stacey's extra ticket and then procured a couple more for my dad and brother.
I usually can come up with a little something to write about the beers I taste, but I'm working from a deficit this year. In case you weren't in the area to experience it up close and personal, it stormed like mad for a good part of the evening. Things started out well enough. We had a table under a tree. Everyone assembled and we commenced to taste -- and I took notes. Then the clouds started churning and we headed for cover under the nearest beer tent where we stayed while the clouds spilled and lit up with lightening. While there was some shelter, beer, and good company, there was not enough dryness to take notes. So I just drank. Then I wobbled home. Then I wondered how I'd managed to get so drunk...
Anyway, here's all I have to report on this year:
The sour trend seems to be under control (finally). There were plenty, if that is your thing, but they were no longer hogging the show. Similarly, the fruit beer thing also seemed reasonable.
A new trend, and one that I enjoyed, was the dark IPA. Most lacked the depth of a traditional American-hopped IPA that I love -- the stink, the beginning, the shift in the middle, and then the left turn at the end -- but the maltiness they brought to hops was not unpleasant. I liked Arcadia's B. Craft Double Dark IPA the best, as it was the only one that had an IPA smell.
Ginger beers made a good show. I'd liked Original Gravity's in the past but it was weak this year. The winner in this category came from the Hideout Brewery in Grand Rapids: Ginger Lee Ginger Pilsner -- very fresh ginger juice taste to it.
The competition for silly, clever, and saucy names was fierce again this year. Right Brain always does well in this category (Distill My Heart Bourbon Stout). Arbor Brewing had Uskratch Mai Bock. You get the idea.
My best beer conversation came with the Short's folks (that's two years running!). I'd had much beer by the time I closed out the festival with them, but the Hangin' Frank was good -- lovely, stinky IPA -- and the people who pour that beer know how it is made and are enthusiastic about it! I need to get up that way for a visit at some point.
And now, what you have all been waiting for, the worst beer of the evening? That would be Bell's Brewery's The Wild One. I went for a Rye Stout (they were out) and the guy tried to sell me on this. I resisted and had the Batch 9000 but they did talk my dad into it. It was evil sour -- not beer sour, but "something is wrong with this" sour. It was so bad that I begged a pretzel off a pretzel-necklace-wearin' dude in a desperate attempt to get rid of the taste. If you think it isn't fair for me to pick a beer as the worst of the night when it is a style I don't like, then I'll have to go with the 9000 -- I poured it out and had a laugh when the random guy next to me did the same. Whichever beer "wins" this category, Bell's was the loser on Friday!
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