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A Festive Weekend

February 8th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Beer babes Miranda & Cathy...

and the Shock Top bug were among the highlights

Saturday’s 3rd Annual Bradenton Beer Festival - officially called The Bradenton Brewgrass Beer Festival 2010 – kicked off an exciting weekend that included of course the most watched program in television history, Super Bowl 44 between the Indianapolis Colts & New Orleans Saints. I met up with all of my friends early in the afternoon, and a great time was had by all. Still, there were some issues as well.

- The festival started late. They initially gave us plastic cups instead of the glass shot glasses from previous years, which can distract from the beer’s flavor.

– The breweries were condensed down to a handful of tents. In previous years, each brewery had their own tent with staff on hand. Things were able to run a lot smoother in that situation.

- Many of the beers were warm when the festival started. This cheated people out of trying some truly outstanding beers at their best. I had the Goose Island Burbon County Stout (Goose Island Beer Co.; Chicago, IL; Imperial Stout; ABV: 13.0) lukewarm. It had a nice bite of dark chocolate and roasted malt with a nice bourbon finish. Bourbon reminded me of a more subtle version of BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin, but I was still left wanting more. I look forward to trying this beer again once it’s on tap at World of Beer, The Long Kangaroo Pub, etc., so that I can truly appreciate its complexity.

Likewise for Southern Tier Unearthly. Many of my hophead friends who’d never tried it were cheated because the beer was served basically warm instead of chilled. Fortunately, they had Southern Tier Mokah (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0) on hand, and Southern Tier Choklat (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.1) on hand. Mokah has a rich chocolate presence complimented by sweet caramel, roasted malt, and coffee. Choklat is equally big in flavor with its milk chocolate taste backed up by roasted malt and coffee. Both tasted quite good even without being chilled.

I’ve kvetched enough..now for the good things!

- The most interesting beer of the festival was the Berliner Weisse brewed by the Homebrewers Association of Manatee & Sarasota (H.A.M.S.). It was available straightup, with raspberry added, or with woodruff herbs. All three versions were great, but the latter, which is green and very floral, added a nice kick to Berliner.

- All of the local Tampa Bay brewers turned out excellent beers – among them were:

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0). A potent and truly outstanding imperial stout. An array of rich chocolate, dark fruit, and peppery spices. My friend Bret nearly cleaned this out singlehandedly at Brewfest!

Old Elephant Foot IPA (Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Tampa Bay, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7). An excellent IPA. Big bite of citrusy hops up front, with hints of sweet malt & a slightly bitter aftertaste. One of my favorites at TBBC.

Old Prague Pilsener (Sarasota Brewing Co.; Sarasota, FL; Czech Pilsener; ABV: 5.0). A clean refreshing pilsener. Crisp and smooth, with the buttery flavor well balanced by grassy hops and spices.

Dunedin Brewmasters Reserve Trippel (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Tripel; ABV: 10.7). A superb Abbey tripel. Very smooth and drinkable for an ale that’s nearly 11% ABV. A nice array of citrusy fruit, hops, and spices. Their best offering along with the Dunedin Spatz BarkeyWine Barley Wine Style Ale (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Barley Wine; ABV: 9.0).

- More breweries are attending the festival. In addition to Goose Island and Southern Tier, other excellent regionals such as Blue Point and Victory Brewing were on hand as well.

- The Lost Kangaroo Pub was a great place to hang before, during, and after the festival. Their tap lines were excellent as usual, and they had the amazing Bell’s HopSlam on tap for $6, and Brooklyn Monster Ale (Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.8) on tap as well for $3.

- Tony, Hack, Jenna, and the gang from World of Beer were there as well. I was wearing my ‘WOB 50′ t-shirt, which became a great conversation piece with some of the attendees. I’d like to think that I recruited a few more Loyalty Card members.

- And last, but not least, the bands were kicking and the crowd was great.

Oh yeah, there was that game on Sunday. Although I rooted for the Saints, I like many thought that the Colts would be too much for them. I’m glad to have been proven wrong. Who Dat indeed!