Saturday, September 09, 2006

Review: Home Again/AleFest

Whew! Forgive the hiatus. It's been an exhausting 3 week period. My wife's step-sister got married in Vegas, and then, about a week later, our good friends from college got married in Rochester, NY. Especially exhausting because we were traveling with an almost-3-year old and a 5-month old.

But I did make time for beer. Dayton's AleFest was last weekend. This was the third year I've been (I believe it was the 8th annual). We drank lots of good beer, but I was a little disappointed by this year's event. Some of it was external--it rained like hell while we were there, and some of the folks who were supposed to come bailed at the last minute (you know who you are). Some of it was me--I've been drinking good beer long enough that I'm shifting from trying lots of new beers to appreciating ones I've tasted before. A lot fewer new beers for me to try, since I've tried most of them before (boo hoo for me, right?).

But some of it related to the AleFest in general. After about the first hour, tables starting running out of beer. About half-way through, about every third or fourth table was empty. I was eager to try the Mt. Carmel brews, but that table kicked early. So did the Clipper City beers, and lots of Belgians. I believe Great Lakes ran out early, too. It made for long lines at the tables that were still serving. I wonder if this phenomenon of tables kicking early is related to the growing number of AleFests. Are the contributions from each brewery being stretched thin? Because it didn't appear that there were a lot more people at this AleFest than the last two.

All that being said, we still had an opportunity to try some great beers (I think the only reason I'm slightly disappointed is because the last two years set the bar so high). It's not probably terribly interesting to recount all the beers we tried (if I could even recall all of them), but here are some of the highlights:
  • Dogfish Head's Randall The Enamel Animal--something I had been waiting to try since I first heard about it. Dogfish Head creator Sam Calagione's super-hopping system is a carbon filter with 1/2 lb. hops packed into it. At AleFest, they were pushing DFH 90 Minute IPA through. Interesting taste--more hop flavor than bitterness. I would like to have had more time and a larger sample to really enjoy this beer. It was something I could see drinking in the back yard, relaxing in the hammock.
  • Rogue's Chipotle Ale was incredible. Smokey, almost like a Rauchbier, with a hot kick right at the end. I'm not a fan of chili beers, but this is one I'd try again.
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru--an acquired taste, meaning that I was the only one in the group who liked it. Sour, with an almost vinegar taste. I haven't had a lot of Farmhouse Ales, so this was a new taste to me. More sour than their website leads you to believe. Wonder if our batch was any good?
  • Boston's Bistro had a couple of cask-conditioned ales: Arcadia's IPA and Cincinnati's own Barrel House Boss Cox Double Dark IPA. Wish more places regularly carried cask ales.
  • Unibroue's table was well stocked. I tried the 2005 Terrible, the Chambly Noire, and the 15, all of which were excellent (not surprisingly).
  • Finally, The Pub, a new bar that is said to be moving into The Greene soon, had a couple of interesting beers--an English Ale and an English Pale Ale. I think the Pale Ale was cask-conditioned. I believe that these brews were contract-brewed for The Pub. Look for more updates about the Pub once it gets settled in. (Sorry, no links to The Pub itself. It appears that The Pub doesn't exist in cyberspace yet, either.)
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Anonymous said...

I was there.
When the scrum for Unibroue slackened, all humanity raced for the tent. In fact, I saw one ale-soddened chap slide ass first in a great soggy puddle. Nonetheless, I believe his zeal for beer tasting remained undiminished.

I, too, had the vinegar beer and it was awful. I felt as though I had been tricked. I needed many IPAs to restore my palate.

Becks had a table, and we hit that because it was late, we were intoxicated, and . . . because we just wanted to. But did you know that you can get 16 oz Becks in a can at Kroger on Stroop for $1?
It's like . . . it's like getting 8 beers for the price of six!
I have not had that much fun since I drank Vampire's blood with Robert Frost at the great sundial protest.

Edgar Allan Poe said...

Filled with mingled cream and amber;
I will drain that glass again;
Such hilarious visions clamber;
Through the chamber of my brain;
Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies;
Come to life and fade away.
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.*