Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn Brew Review 2013

Just as the swallows return to Capistrano, so does the Autumn Brew Review revisit the Grain Belt Brewery grounds in North East Minneapolis each late September. This was my 12 th year of attendance, and the festival's 13th year. I l vowed ong ago to the Beer Gods, Kinkasi and Gambrinus, that I should not miss this event, which focuses on American craft beer available in Minnesota, and which grows and grows every year (I think the first year I went there were 30-some breweries. Now, we're up to 105). But there were a few circumstances beyond my control that conspired to make this year's experience different from last year's, which I chronicled here as well. First, I did not get to sleep until a wildly unreasonable hour, and slept in until 2 PM (the fest went from 1 -5). A quick lunch and a 40-minute bike ride meant that I missed half of the fest. I also missed the rain, so, hey, there's something.
Also, I forgot to keep my iPod, whose camera I use to create these photos, charged up and it began failing after about 45 minutes. I also started noting which beers I'd sampled, but after awhile I gave up that practice, and just jumped from beer to beer and booth to booth, without geeking out on notes and such. There are magazine and blog articles you can read about how to best enjoy a beer festival, but I normally ignore that good advice. For me, it's mostly about the socialization as well as trying new beers, but I keep finding more friends and spend valuable drinking time talking with them, so my vow that I take every time that "this time I'll try them all!" is usually for naught. I check to see what the beers to seek are, and just bounce around, seeing friends and grabbing what I can.

So, here are the photos of most of my experience of ABR 2013.

The first friend that I met at the Grain Belt Brewery grounds was Megan, who is holding a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, obscured by her sample glass coozie. Or is that a can coozie that she re-purposed? I never got any of that beer, but I 've had it before, so, no loss.
Here we have the back of Todd Haug's head, which was kind enough to pose with my glass of El Hefe Negro, a Surly brew which debuted at ABR. Here's the full description: "Imperial Black Weiss-beer Black wheat ale brewed with Mexican cone sugar and fermented with Bavarian Hefe-Weizen yeast, and then dry-hopped." 8.1 % ABV. What, wheat beer from Surly? Bring on the flying pigs!
Shaun "Wolfy" Wolf, local Duvel USA rep, with the Ommegang Take the Black Ale that he poured for me. It's okay, Wolfy, I don't mind a little head. Nice, rich, malty Belgian ale that I look forward to trying in a bottle.
Like IPAs? How about that Mango Mama from Town Hall? Forget about that, have a Beach Therapy, Banana Mango Coconut IPA, which was as delicious as it sounds. But the umbrella was not a wise choice for a garnish, as the paper didn't pair well with the ale and the wood hurt my throat on the way down.

Security! Cut this guy off! It's only 3:30 and he's so blasted he's showing me his tits! I didn't even promise him beads or anything.
 Derek is taking a break from the Surly booth and enjoying a cask version of Haywire Imperial Black Ale, while standing before evidence of how I failed in a very important task. I'd already had Haywire, but there are two beers I never did go back to sample, the Mole' Midnight Ryder and something called Polka Pils. 
Indeed had a fun little board where festival goers could pose as the characters from their cans. The gentleman at right is pausing to contemplate the contents of his glass. Is it Midnight Ryder? Or maybe Haywire? I forgot to ask him.
One of the most important parts of a festival like this is the ability to try new beers from new Minnesota breweries that I wouldn't get to sample without making a special trip. Enki Brewing opening in June, in Victoria, Population 7, 235. They're making beers that anyone can like. Here, I'm holding a smooth and tasty Auburn Kolsch, which Smilin' Dan over there poured for me. 
Here's Jodie (or is it Jody?) with a Citric Journey Pale Ale from the Enki Brewing Company. I like it, it was good, but the description in the program was misleading. "Pack your bags because this enjoyable beer will take you around the world in 16 oz!" No way, guys, you're about 14 oz short on this pour.
Lori's got something good in her glass. I've totally forgotten what it was, but she seems pleased with it.
In this glass, I've got a light and scrumptious Levity Golden Ale on cask from  Odell Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado. It was poured for me by Julianna, of Acadia Cafe, who is to the right of Odell's MN Representative, Todd Ewing.
Nick has poured me a 2X Steam from Souther Tier , one of two beers  from  that brewery that I hadn't had before. Nick is assisting his friends, and not acting in his official capacity as sales representative for Artisanal Imports. How he wished he could pour me a La Trappe, but imports are forbidden at Autumn Brew Review. 
Here's an example of when I break the cardinal beer fest rule of drinking beers you've already had or can easily find, but how can I resist stopping by the Harriet Brewing booth and getting a glass of delicious, malty Marzen from the lovely Ashley? I can't resist, it's that simple.
This was the last picture of the day, and this moment on, my iPod's battery had lost it's charge. I went on to drink beers from Olvalde Farms, Bad Weather, Barley John's Bell's, Borealis Fermentery, Canal Park, Dangerous Man, Fitger's, Founders, Fulton, Hammerheart, and who know what else? It's a faded memory, all I recall  is the fun and the friends. Like I said earlier, I took a free-wheeling approach, and paid the price by reading the program afterwards and noticed all the treats I'd missed. Ah, well, life does indeed go on, as surely as the beer keeps flowing, inevitably.
Brad the Beerguy should change his name to Brad the Mead Guy. I found him sitting happily with glass in hand at a table with no kegs or jockey boxes, no banners or even bottles. What happened?, I asked him. They drank all my mead, he replied. Apparently, the mead fans of ABR made a bee-line to Brad's booth. See how I made a funny, there? Mead? Bee-line? How I slay me.
Here's the cover to this year's program, a lovely work by Adam Turman. Hey, Craft Brewer's Guild, why isn't this on a poster or t-shirt?

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