On Saturday I took the Frederick Beer Week show on the road. Specifically, to the Tysons Corner Whole Foods first ever Craft Beer Festival.

1278989_10202689572176570_2071334635_oI love beer festivals.

That’s not to say all of them are good, but beerfests give me the opportunity to do several things I love – sample great beer and chat about the industry. And when you’re involved in planning something like Frederick Beer Week, it also gives someone like me an opportunity to pimp FBW. Let me back up here.

A couple weeks ago my wife and sister-in-law were contacted through their Facebook page, Real Women Drink Craft Beer. They were being approached with the idea that maybe they could come as special guests, manning a table about homebrewing (both have been involved in the hobby). Unfortunately, both had commitments on Saturday.

The alternative that was offered was that I would go, and I would bring along Brian Roberts, a homebrewer and part-time hop farmer who is currently in the process of going pro…or pro-ish with his own little venture; Mad Science Brewing Company.

The two of us went down there and chatted homebrewing, local beer, MSBC, and Frederick Beer Week with the masses for seven hours (the festival was only six).

The festival itself was an intimate affair, located primarily in the supermarket’s cafe. In spite of being a small festival, craft was well represented with beers repped by Victory, Lagunitas, Schlafly, Great Lakes, EVO, Lost Rhino, Heavy Seas and a handful of others. While most of the beer was out of bottles, although there was a cask of Loose Cannon that got tapped in the bar back by the beer (yes, they sell beer in that supermarket, and it has a bar with beers on tap back by the beer selection, which is the source of a whole other rant for another day).

It was a quite enjoyable, low-key affair, and for a first event, they pulled it off with a minimum of issues – their biggest really just being that the location lacks the necessary parking. Beyond that, the market didn’t have to worry about some of the major issues that face festival organizers such as dealing with potential weather issues (the festival was inside), or are there enough port-a-johns (indoor plumbing is a plus), budgeting for security, and for people who haven’t been involved in organizing festivals, there was no noticeable issues. Combine a lack of serious issues with good beer, and freshly prepared food (they used the festival as an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of the food available – there were sliders made with grass fed beef, wings, chocolate cake and other tasty munchies).

For my part, I saw this as a symbiotic thing. I had an opportunity to chat beer and homebrewing with the attendees, while promoting Frederick Beer Week, and Maryland beer. Brian had an opportunity to talk about his favorite hobby, and create buzz about Mad Science.

On the Mad Science note, he expects to be up and running late this summer. Look for more on Mad Science Brewing in the April/May issue of the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

Five Quick Thoughts on Nugget Nectar1523433_10202468771376688_609257958_o

There might be no seasonal beer more controversial than Nugget Nectar. Every year it seems like people complain that it wasn’t as good as last year’s edition. I have heard that complaint this year. I heard it last. I heard it the year before that. And talking to people, I can only conclude:

  1. People confuse this beer with an IPA. It’s a hopped up amber. It’s not going to, and never had the same nose as an IPA.
  2. Without having notes sitting in front of me, other than remembering that I liked the beer, I couldn’t tell you the details, the nuances regarding that particular beer’s flavors and aromas.
  3. I firmly believe that, due to the roughly ten month gap in the beer’s availability, that people remember it as what it is – a great beer – but also build it up to something that it is not; some sort of ideal of brewing that all breweries should strive for. What beer can live up to that?
  4. Beer, any beer, can be significantly affected by forces of nature. We’re currently seeing the long-term affects on NoCal’s dry 2013 as breweries in the Lake Mendocino/Russian River region are scrambling to figure out how they’re going to handle production in light of a growing water shortage. Any seasonal’s flavors are going to be impacted by the elements – drought, an unusually moist growing season, etc, can produce substandard hops, malts that have more sugar, less sugar, etc. All of this can produce beers with better or inferior flavors and it’s one of the great challenges of the craft brewer: creating a consistent product around ingredients that bear the consistent inconsistency of Mother Nature.
  5. If you bought a six-pack and were disappointed in it, let me know. I’m willing to take it off your hands.

Tapped and Uncapped

1654187_10202696362906334_1070898196_nThis past weekend was a beer-filled fun-fest for me. Not only did I spend Saturday chatting craft beer and sampling some wonderful brews from around the country, on Sunday I managed to get my butt out to Frisco’s Taphouse in Columbia. Good food, great beer. What more could a person want.

I had some beautifully crafted beers this weekend, several at Frisco’s. But the one I want to chat up this week is from a brewery in Japan doing some great things. The Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki Prefecture is responsible for the Hitachino Nest line of beers, and I was fortunate enough to have the Anbai, which is listed as a plum weizen at Untappd, and as a Goze by Beer Advocate.

Either way, it’s a beautifully made beer, tart and smooth with a little bit of mustiness to it. As such, I can see characterizing the beer as a Goze. If you like a good sour, you should enjoy this beer. Go out of your way for this one. It’s worth it. And, yes, that’s it, pictured in the goblet.

As always, until next week, be well and drink good beer.