Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winterfest Recap

This year I went to my very first Winterfest. For those of you who haven't been before, let me just say that this was a great event for me. We had the opportunity to get early admission to the festival and took advantage of the opportunity to see what was set up before we really got started. That always seems to work best for me.

I know that even though I want to have all of the beers, it's neither realistic nor safe to think that it will actually happen. So I look for the breweries that I know I can't miss and I look for something new and unique on their tap list. There was a ton of ground to cover so being a little bit strategic definitely helped. This year was a different, and larger, location than past Winterfests to accommodate more people. This was another reason I loved being there early. I like to get a jump on the crowd.

There were a lot of great breweries there to sample. Some of the standouts for me were:
  • Zwanzigz- Their blueberry and their chocolate are always a hit for me. Even better than these two on their own- mix them together. You're welcome.
  • Revolution- I don't think I've had anything from Revolution that I haven't liked, so I always get excited when I see them at a local event. This time around I tried their Deth's Tar, a Russian Imperial stout aged in four different types of bourbon barrel (Old Fitzgerald, Old Forester, Elijah Craig, and Evan Williams). Amazing.
  • Virtue Cider- Soon to be coming to the Indianapolis market, the Red Streak by Virtue Ciders is one I'm adding to my list. It's a crisp and dry English-style draft cider which is something I really got into during our recent trip through the UK.
All in this was a lot of fun. I'm glad I finally got to attend and will definitely be back next year.

The Big Guy: Although waiting out on the cold ass rain was not my favorite part of the early admit tickets, the extra hour was totally clutch. We did a great job of getting to a few of the breweries we really wanted to see before the crowds showed up. Winterfest may have just become my favorite of all the festivals we do. There were tons of great breweries. It was a reasonable temperature inside the building; I totally got tatted up and the crowds were bad but not terrible. That's win, win, win for everyone except maybe my mother who warned me about prison ink.

For me the big standouts (not in any specific order) were:
  • Rivertown out of Cincinnati, OH, Old Sour Cherry Porter. I loved this dark and delicious fruited sour
  • Bare Hands out of Granger, IN, Imperial Java Coconut Stout. Big imperial stout with just enough coconut that you know its there
  • Iechyd Da out of Elkhart, IN, Breakfast Cookie Milk Stout. Tasted like cookie crisp and beer, how you can you not love that!?!
Honorable mentions included Bare Hands Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout, Revolution 3rd Year Beer  Rum-barrel Aged Barelywine and Rhinegeist Truth. There were a ton of awesome beers from Indy breweries but most of them were old favorites that I've had a few times before. They are totally delicious but I'm focusing on some of the new stuff to me. Upland did a wheel of sours that totally Pat Sajak'ed my heart. The firkin area was awesome. There were some really creative brews that they tapped. The stouts that were part of the ReplicAle of the year were all pretty good. I thought it was awesome going through each beer to check out how the individual brewers were able to put their own personality into the recipe. You can really get a sense of their playfulness and creativity as you check out all the different options.

I wish there had been food trucks. The concessions that were provided were only mediocre and before the end of the scheduled time they had started running out of the good stuff. Its hard to make it through a marathon beer drinking experience without some serious munchies to keep you going. That being said this was an outstanding event. Thanks to Hoosier Beer Geek and the Brewers Guild for putting it all together. Cheers!

Professor Beer:  This was my second year at Winterfest, and it was as good as I remember.  With the plethora of beers available, I was only able to try a small percentage, even with the early admission.  Here are a few beers that I particularly enjoyed:

  • Sun King - Velvet Fog from the firkin tent.  Velvet Fog was very good last year, and it still does not disappoint.
  • Iechyd Da - Breakfast Cookie Milk Stout.  A very good milk stout that is reminiscent of cookies.
  • Tyranena Brewing - Benji's Chipotle Smoked Imperial Porter.  A smoked porter with a very nice chipotle heat to it.
  • Triton Brewing - Hatchblower Cask.  I haven't had Hatchblower since I picked up a growler for O-Dawg's wedding reception.
The firkin area had some very interesting beers, and I wish I had spent a little more time there.  There were also several booths with very good ciders, including Ace Cider, Chapman's Brewing Company, and Victory Cider.

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