Not overwhelmed by the ACBF after all

So I went to a beer festival today. A really big beer festival. The American Craft Beer Festival boasts of over 100 brewers and over 500 beers. I was afraid it might be too much, so beforehand I had dimsum with a friend to build up my strength. After that, a short ride on the Silver Line, a short walk to the venue, and in I walked into the cavernous Boston World Trade Center.

Just the high ceilings and wide aisles were amazing. Feeling overwhelmed, I wandered on autopilot and found some cask-conditioned beer. Then another. And another. Within an hour I lost all sense of direction, but I ferreted out 10 casks.

Not only are my notes totally muddled and out of order, but I’m sure I forgot to write down a beer or two. Here they are anyway.

Casks I found:

  • Harpoon casks Summer ale w/ Simcoe — hazy honey color, grassy herby earthy stop you in your traces sorting it all out — so that’s Simcoe! My favorite cask.
  • Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen w/ homegrown Cascade — kept meaning to come back for this one, but didn’t make it.
  • Prodigal Misty Mountain Bock — Caramel and sourness.
  • Opa Opa IPA — Syrupy and musky overhopped bite.
  • Element Dark Element with vanilla — Very dark. Very strong vanilla. Like extract. Really strong extract. Made me feel like a ship’s cook desperate for a little snoot.
  • John Harvard’s Summer Session — Pleasant lemony sweetness. Nice.
  • Geary’s Oak aged summer ale — Forgot to write down my impressions promptly. All I remember is oak.
  • Notch Czech Pilsner — Hazy honey color, sweet aroma, hot bite, honey on white bread and butter. A bit chewy. My second favorite cask.
  • Notch Midlands Mild — Butterscotch and caramel
  • Ipswich IPA — Middle of the road IPA. Clear golden color. Sweet and warm.

Beers I found in between the casks:

  • Ithaca Flower Power — Just as bursting with hoppy goodness as I expected. Delicious. My favorite non-lager, non-cask.
  • Wormtown Rye Ale — Nice & sticky
  • Butternuts Porkslap — Sweet apricot & ginger
  • Gritty’s Black Fly — A classic stout, dry and smoky as always.
  • Haverhill Annie Schwartz — Black, sour, and caramel.
  • Cape Ann  PickAle Cucumber Beer — Vegetable taste comes through the pale ale. Interesting.
  • Red Hook Pilsner — Do not like. Tastes like old sock. Apricot.
  • Troëg’s Hopback Amber — Light caramel, sticky resin in lasting finish. My second favorite non-lager, non-cask.
  • Harpoon Bohemian Pilsner– Clear gold. Light bodied honey and white bread malt with hop bite. Hint of sweet corn at the end.
  • Baxter Pamola Xtra Pale Ale — Disappointing. I really wanted to like this because of the name, but I tasted old sock. What causes that?
  • Mayflower Golden Ale — Clear honey color, sweet hint of apricot, hop bite. Not bad.

Biggest surprise of the day: my favorite beer was a lager!

  • Prodigal Sacopee Pils — Wow! Very hoppy, bright and clean. Brisk aroma and nice lemony bite.  The best lager I’ve ever had. I liked it enough to make my last beer of the day.

Second biggest surprise: I lost count of how many beers I tasted, but emerged feeling pretty good.  Unfortunately this required not finishing most of my samples, especially not the strong beers. Tasty, tasty strong beers. Sad face. But I know which ones I’d like a full pint of some day. Maybe even at a NERAX festival. Happy face!

Final score: ACBF: 500+ Me:20+ I win!

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