Friday, September 25, 2009

Notes from Day One of the Great American Beer Festival

*The extra 33,000 feet or so of space that was added to the hall this year really makes a lot of difference. It was easier to make your way through crowds, there was less bunching even by booths with long lines (New Glarus, Russian River) and the extra bathrooms that were opened up made that experience a whole lot more pleasant.

*The coconut beers were, as expected, flowing from multiple sources this year, and the initial results were very pleasing. Papago Brewing of Arizona crafted a coconut stout, for example, that was thick with java tinges but really accessible with the coconut sweetness. Hopefully, this a trend that will stick around.

*I always believe that one way to tell where you should be drinking is to watch what booths brewers go to on the first night. One place that had a surprisingly large gathering of beer makers was Cascade Brewery of Portland, which specializes in unique sour beers. In addition to its cherry-heavy Cascade Kriek, it featured an apricot ale, a Northwest sour red ale and a lighter sour fermented with the juice of pressed white wine grapes.

*Speaking of sours, there are two things to note this year: You're seeing more of them, and they're, frankly, more sour than they have been in years past. Cambridge Brewing's Cerise Cassee, for example, nearly takes your taste buds off with its pucker worthiness this year. Bon appetit.


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