Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Matt's take on the 1st annual Indiana Microbrewers' Winterfest

Okay, after thinking about things, I've came to the conclusion that Winterfest wasn't that bad of an event. (If you would have ask me this Saturday night, I would likely have slugged you in the face.) It did have its flaws. It sold out, although, there was no mention of limited tickets. When we pulled into the fairgrounds and were told this, I thought I was out of luck and out 15 bucks. But after some pleading with at the ticket booth, I was able to get tickets for my friends. (I had purchased mine the evening before, but they had waited to buy them at the box office.)

Also, we were shocked to find the crowd at the event. The place was packed and most of more popular beers were out. (It was only 4 oclock when we arrived) Finally, my complaint was that the event was more of a Drunkfest and less of a tasting event.

Seven years ago, I would have thought this event was awesome. The event of ages. Magnificent. But like most things in my life at that time, it was more about QUANTITY and less about Quality. Beers such as Natural Ice, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Milwaukee Best, and Miller Highlife were deals. It was better to live in a cold concrete walled dorm room over a cush bedroom with blinds and curtains (not hung blankets). Pizza Hut lunch buffets ruled. The better bars had penny beer nights...and the best had Quarter pitchers.

But now, its more about taste. Take my DVD buying habits. In the last 2 years I've purchased about 5 new dvds. The 5 years prior to that saw my collection grow to a staggering 250 dvds, many of which were purchased out of 'Bin of Joy' at walmart. The same goes for beer.

And this leads me to my point...I didn't want to go to an all u can drink in 4 hour BeerFest, I wanted to go to a "Try some new craft beers while I tell you about them" tasting. As you can, imagine it was a little disappointing, but the little 'Qball' {my college nickname} in me was jumping for joy with a big smile on his face.

Finally, since the bitching is all out of the way, let me tell you about what I tried. Keep in mind, that there were a lot of better, more popular beers originally, but by the time I got to the event most were sold out.

From the Broad Ripple Brewpub, I had the Lawnmower Pale Ale. It was my favorite. Pale golden, thick head. Mildly malty aroma. Medium body, lots of sweet malt flavor with a sweet malty finish.

From the Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery, I tried the Winter Warmer. I originally wanted the Hazelnut Brown, but it was gone.

From the Lafayette Brewing Company, I tried the Marley's VSOP. (Very special Porter aged on Jack Daniels barrel wood.) This was my first taste, and it was probably the most intriguing taste. It was quite the porter, with a full thick taste, and an aroma with hints of vanilla. My buddy Nick, who's not much of the craft beer drinker, tried the Noel Belgian Dubbel. He didn't like it, buy hey, at least he tried it.

From New Albanian Brewing, I tasted the Beak's Best. I thought it had a great bronze color with a thin white head and little lace. The aroma that of carmel and biscuit malt with a hint of coffee. The initial taste was a complex mix of sweet malt, coffee, carmel and hops, all bursting through at the same time. A nice alcohol taste and hop bitterness came through in the middle, and finished with a tart alcohol taste at the end. A little heavy to have more than two in a sitting, but a great beer overall.

And that's it. I did have a couple tastes of a brew from the RAM. Initially, I thought it was the Big Red IPA, but after my second glass, they referred to it as the ALT beer and I'm not sure what that meant. It wasn't bad.

Well, I'll still probably do it next year, but with more of an idea as what to expect.

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