Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vermont Brewers Festival 2012


20 years, and I have enjoyed many of them.
 I have nine glasses, which means nine years

This is my favorite day of the year; every year since I could legally drink I have been coming to the Vermont Brewers Festival. Each year the festival gets bigger and bigger and better and better. With this being the twentieth anniversary you knew things were going to be special. The big thing this year at the fest was Collaboration beers; with various breweries joining together they made many special beers.

I could go on and list all of them but I didn't try them so I think it’s better if I don't comment on them. I did try many, many beers including two education tent events. The session that I went to began at 11:30 and ended at 3:30, I arrived early to make sure I didn't have to wait in a long line. Depending on the year, we have had to wait in line for over 30 minutes. Not this year. They allowed everyone in earlier but you couldn't start drinking until 11:30. Lines of course were starting to form at Lawson's and the Alchemist long before we could start drinking.

The only way to navigate a full festival is with a well drawn map.
I began my adventure on a beautiful Saturday morning at Hill Farmstead with my first collaboration beer. They brewed with the Alchemist and created a session IPA called Walden. This beer was fantastic. It was light, hoppy and perfect for the summer.

Next I went Lawson's Finest. I have learned in the past that it's important to go to Lawson's earlier because the line gets long and you have to wait for 20-30 minutes to get a sample. Plus if they have something unannounced you would actually get it. That was the case this time around, their special beer was their Chinooker'd IPA. This is their best beer they make in my opinion and I got it on cask at the brewer’s fest.

I followed that up with Lake Placid IPA, 14th Star Brewing American Pale Ale, Fiddlehead IPA, Hill Farmstead Edward (2), Magic Hat Apple Pie Ale (which was definitely the weirdest beer I drank all day), Saison De Cassis from Bobcat Cafe, Switchback’s Slow-Fermented Brown Ale & Roasted Red Ale on cask, Cape Ann Brewing Pale Ale, Defiant Medusa IPA, Stone's Cali-Belgique IPA.

Another beer I want to focus on was from Wormtown Brewery in Worcester. They brought their IPA but didn't list it. I only found out because I told them it was my favorite. They tried something different with it; they used a new hop in the dry-hopping process. I believe it was Topaz; I didn't bring a pen with me so I wasn't writing it down. It was good; I liked the piney nose that it gave. 

I also went to a couple of educational events. The first one was good, it was Sensory Training. The goal of the training was to teach us some strategies for what they call an effective mind map while tasting. The two trainers for this session were Dario Elia from Italy and Darja Lesnik from Slovene. They are certified judges and were recently judges at the Great British Beer Festival. Learning how to use smell as a tool in judging beer was valuable as they walked us through various steps of our smell. They spent a good amount of time on the science of it, again I didn't write any of it down. 

During this we tasted five different beers, each one we were spent the time smelling it. Each beer that was used was talked through the tasting process. The beers that were used were La Frambise from Hopfenstark, Cuda from Benelux Brewpub, Juhlia from Zero Gravity, Magic Hat Burn Pile and I’m not sure about the fifth beer but it was good. The lasting thing I will remember is this: Mind Mapping in 4 Steps: look, agitate, smell, and sip. The best four steps I have ever heard.

Chocolate & Beer together like always
The other education tent event that I went to was excellent. It was of course a chocolate and beer pairing put on by Lake Champlain Chocolate. The pairings for us went like this:

Zero Gravity & Otter Creek Berliner Weisse with Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel
VT Pub & Brewery and Lake Champlain Chocolates Stout with Organic Vanilla Truffle
Alchemist Heady Topper with Dark Chocolate Orange Peel & Dark Covered Almonds
Wolover's Organic Oatmeal Stout & Cordial

All of these pairings were fantastic; the best though was the Heady Topper with Dark Chocolate Orange Peel. This pairing was amazing and I can't wait to eat more of it. I even have planned on purchasing one of those Dark Chocolate Oranges to eat with my Heady Topper. 

Also really interesting was the fact that one of the chocolates was made with the Oatmeal Stout and there was collaboration with Lake Champlain providing chocolate nibs to make a stout with Vermont Pub and Brewery. Both of which, came out really well. 

To read more about the Vermont Brewers Fest check out:


Here is a list of the brewers were present at the Festival:

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