Sunday, May 3, 2009
Weekend of the Craft Beer Trifecta
Saturday was a great day for beer lovers and makers. First, there was the 6th annual Parkville Microbrew Festival. Second, Flying Saucer's 1st anniversary in KC. And finally, National Homebrew Day. As we were too busy with the first two, we did not participate in National Homebrew Day. Perhaps we'll create our own "National Homebrew Day, Redux" in the near future.
The Parkville festival was an overall win, and the selections were plentiful and varied. Upon arrival, we were handed a flyer listing all the breweries and 2 beers for each one. As it turns out, most breweries had at least 3 on tap - several offered at least 5. There were two breweries that impressed me - Little Apple out of Manhattan, KS and Empyrean out of Lincoln, NE. I will definitely drink my fill of their beer given another opportunity to do so, and recommend you do the same. 75th Street offered their IPA pumped through Randall, which contained 100% Simcoe hops (yeah!). It was my #1 favorite at the festival, though not by a large margin (and I will fully admit a bias for Simcoe hops). I asked if they'll be using Randall much at the brewpub and was told that it's a real pain to set up and clean, so they tend to only set it up for special occasions. I will definitely keep my eye out for such occasions and will post about them here.
Free State's Bumper Crop Saison was fantastic as well (and note their new web site). I am not a big Saison person, but do appreciate good versions of them (Boulevard and Rogue included). At 35 IBUs, this one was hoppier than most in the style and definitely not for someone who shies away from hoppy beers. But if you enjoy a good Saison and are not scared by a bit of bitterness, I highly recommend it. This was my #2 favorite at the festival.
The loser of the day, by the widest margin imaginable, was Lucky Bucket's Concentrated Evil - a barrel-aged quad. I have no idea what they were trying to do here, but it was the strangest beer I think I've ever tasted (not including the wormwood beer some friends & I tried making years ago. Bad idea.). It was exactly how I would imagine watered-down rotten prune puree to taste. And, it was the ONLY sample I dumped out prior to finishing. Funny enough, it was KC Hop Head's favorite. I wonder if what I got was ruined or tampered with somehow (it was poured out of a plastic cup) - this should have been something I found delicious and warming, but it wasn't even close. I'd be interested in trying it again in a different environment - say, from a keg for starters.
That said, nearly all the beer I had there ranged from "I'd buy a pint of that" to "I can't wait to have this again." There wasn't one brewery there that I thought should look into doing something else. The only disappointment I had in the event itself was that there wasn't more seating. Some fest tables would have been great - drinking all that beer is hard work!
We headed over to Flying Saucer for their 1-year-in-KC anniversary and ordered a couple of beers. I got a Sierra Nevada Brown Saison (hey, Free State inspired me) which I also found highly enjoyable. This is a very drinkable beer, with a soft mouthfeel, sweet toasty aroma, and slightly spicy saison funk. We were watching the Kentucky Derby and was reminded that saisons are often described as "horsey" - this one is no different. But, true to Sierra Nevada style, it was also well-hopped for a saison - again at 35IBUs. We were there, though, for Bear Republic's Racer X which was tapped at 5pm. The big brother of Racer 5, this Imperial IPA is not to be missed. Not overwhelmingly malty, it provides just enough sweetness to back the citrusy pineyness of the hops. While it won't hit you over the head with bitterness, it is definitely a West Coast IIPA - less sweet and hoppier than its eastern and midwestern counterparts. If you are a hophead, you owe it to yourself to get a pint before they run out (if they haven't already).
In terms of trying new, solidly good beer, this was definitely one of the best beer weekends I've had in a while. I am already looking forward to next year!