Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CANvitational 2014

After having such a great time at CANvitational last year, I was pretty excited for this year. The weather was perfect and Georgia Street is just an amazing venue. It's cool to be drinking downtown with the city all around you.

For those of you who don't know, CANvitational is a festival hosted by Sun King that celebrates canned beer throughout the craft community. This brings beers from all around the US to our beautiful city. It's an awesome opportunity to try some beers that aren't distributed in the area. If you are new to beer, or haven't spent hours walking through a liquor store while on vacation this festival is a must attend.

Some of my personal favorite breweries like Cigar City, Rhingeist and Surly bring their basic lineups and now with the invention of crowlers, large cans that replace 32 oz growlers, some of these breweries were able to bring special releases. The special releases were the one thing that this festival was missing last year.

Since this is Sun King's festival they had better bring their A game. Lucky for us they did a great job. Sun King showed up with a couple different King's Reserve beers including one of my personal favorites Lonesome Dove. They also brought Grapefruit Jungle. Although this is an awesome beer, it was a little bit long in the tooth by now. I appreciate that they were trying to bring something special but I feel bad for anyone who had old GFJ as their introduction to the beer.

For me, one of the highlight was this year's collaboration which was with Solemm Oath out of Naperville, IL. Solemn Oath is known for bringing awesome Belgian flavors to inventive American beers. They called the collaboration, 30 Minute Coma, a Belgian session IPA. The beer was outstanding. The beer was light and summery with a nice American citrus hop flavor and a light Belgian yeast character. It was a nice blend of the two styles and had a great IPA punch even though it was a lighter beer. As fall is just around the corner and it's already getting colder here in IN, I'm not sure that I would have gone with a session beer, but at least it will be the best tailgate beer in the cooler.

I liked last year's Royal Brat collaboration with Three Floyds but I think this one is even better. Be on the lookout! this beer was released on Monday the 22nd in the Sun King tasting room. It's worth the trip to the brewery to make sure that you don't miss out on this awesome beer.

Other than Sun King these were my three favorite beers (in no particular order) that I hadn't had before:
  • Country Western II, a brown ale with Kentucky sorghum and aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. brewed in collaboration by two awesome breweries in Lexington, Country Boy and West 6
  • Smog Rocket by Beavertown... with a name like that I had a hard time taking the brewery seriously but great lightly smoked beer. You can call yourself whatever you want if you brew beer like 
  • 10 Ton and Flying Rye by Warped Wing out of Dayton OH. Maybe I cheated a little bit here but they were both great beers. I am pumped to try and set up a trip to check this brewery out in person. Both of the brews were great and the people were great.
I was worried this festival would have a tough time staying fresh. Most of the breweries bring their basic lineups that you can find throughout their markets. This isn't bad but I worry about exciting beers coming to the fest. With the advent of the Crowler and all the new breweries that start canning every year I don't think this will be a problem.

On the only really negative note, it was silly that Sun King didn't have enough tasters with 2014 on them. At the price point we pay to go to events we shouldn't be ok with stupid things like this. I know the beer is important not the glass, but this isn't a cheap festival. They need to take a lesson from Daredevil's Hops and Flip-Flops festival and not slack off on the attendee experience.

The festival was poop yourself good this year!

If you were there you get that... lol

Professor Beer:
While the CANvitational tends not to get many special or seasonal beers, there is an impressively large contingent of out-of-state breweries in attendance.  This festival is a great opportunity to try beers that are not easy to get ahold of if you do most of your drinking in Indiana.  DC Brau Brewing Company brought their own excellent music (they were playing Oysterhead the first time I stopped by their tent).

Sun King had a couple of their King's Reserve beers available (Batch 666: Sympathy For The Devil and Lonesome Dove), as well as 30 Min. Coma, their collaboration with Solemn Oath Brewery of Naperville, IL.  Some other beers I remember enjoying:

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