Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bloomington Craft Beer Festival

For the second year in a row, we had the opportunity to attend the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival. The festival took place at the Woolery Mill, which serves as a great back drop. The whole festival has a pretty chill, laid back vibe that you don't see with some other events. It's small enough that you can easily try something from each brewer, but large enough to provide a good variety.

The view from the Brewer's Hideout

We opted to get the early admission tickets and were able to get about an hour of tasting in before the "consumption crowd" arrived, though it was never so packed that it was hard to get around or get to the brewers' tables. Unless you wanted to have some Zombie Dust, then you had to deal with a really long line. I know there are some people opposed to early admit or VIP ticket options, but I always prefer them. I also tend to go against the crowd at the beginning, go to the furthest breweries from the entrance, and work my way back to the front.


Of the breweries that came, there were a few standouts for me.
  1. Black Acre Brewing, Blood Orange Infused Bitter Life: An American IPA
  2. 18th Street Brewing, Bitch Hands: An American Pale Ale
  3. Against the Grain, HAmon HAmarth: A smoked beer
I was surprised that I'd had so many of the beers that were there. I know I've been busy this year trying as much as I could, but it would have been nice to see a few more unique offerings. If you want to see how this compares to what we thought of last year's event, read that post here.

The Big Guy: I'm always happy to head back down to Bloomington. The only hard part is not hitting Kirkwood. After this festival, thank God I didn't go to Kirkwood...thank G O D. The venue for this festival is one of the coolest spots around and the weather was perfect. It was a sunny 75 degrees and windy enough to cool the whole thing down to the perfect temperature.

Brie and I were the only Barons that made it to the event, but we met up with some friends from Girls Pint Out, Great Fermentations and our tasting group as well as some newbies from Brie's office. Coming to these things with new comers can be a lot of fun. I always have a great time watching how they react to the beers for the first time. A really hoppy beer can shock someone the first time.

So I think my wife and I hang out too much. My favorite beers of the show were:
  1. 18th Street Brewing, Nubian Overlord: A double IPA
  2. Against the Grain, HAmon HAmarth: A smoked beer
  3. Black Acre Brewing, Blood Orange Infused Bitter Life: An American IPA
Honorable mentions include: Barrel Aged Scotch Ale by Fountain Square, Andrew and Drew Smoked Amber by Bluegrass Brewing, and The Dude White Russian Porter by Crown Brewing.

Flat 12 brought the crazy again with a carnival theme. Surprisingly the squid ink gose, Octogose, was pretty good. The briny quality of the squid ink was a very nice addition to the salty sour gose beer that is becoming more popular lately. Although this one was a win for me, the caramel corn was not.

The festival was full of great beers and some beers with really cool combinations of flavors. On a sunny spring day there isn't anything better than good friends, good beer and a designated driver. I can't wait to take a trip up to 18th Street and a drive down to check out Against the Grain.

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