EBF: Extremely Belated Festival-Review

It’s been quite a while since I posted about Phil, Brez, and I going to the Extreme Beer Festival. It took a while to get the pictures after the fest, and I’m lazy so put the two together and you get one very belated post. The good thing is that we’ve been busy with many things beer related lately. I put together a schedule for the rest of the year, plotting out brew days and competitions. We’re looking to enter a beer in our first BJCP-sanctioned competition in May, and planning on going all grain in mid-July. More info about that will follow, so for now let’s get into the fest…

The drive up went smoothly and we got to our hotel a bit early. We had to wait about 45 minutes to get the room, so what better way to start out a weekend of beer drinking than by drinking beer? We headed to the hotel bar and ordered up a round of Sam Adams Noble Pils. By the time we were done our room was ready, so we dropped our stuff off and went to get dinner before the festival. We chose a beer bar that had good food called Bukowski’s. I ordered a Narragansett (New England’s go to cheap lager) to go with my meal, and it was surprisingly the least disappointing beer between the ones we each ordered.

After waiting roughly 30 minutes to get our checks, we headed to the Cyclorama for what was certainly going to be an outrageously long line for Night of the Barrels. We were fortunate to get there with only about 50 people in front of us so we had our pick of the litter right off of the bat. The first beer we tried was The Bruery’s Black Tuesday – an 18% ABV Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels. This beer had a huge blast of flavor with massive chocolate and bourbon notes – it was easily one of the best of the weekend. The venue quickly filled in and felt very crowded. Lines were virtually non-existant so that you had to essentially push yourself to the front of the line. Fortunately this calmed down a bit towards the end of the session.

Other highlights of the NotB included Lost Abbey Double Framboise de Amarosa, Sam Adams Utopias, and Firestone Walker 13/14. The biggest disappointment, which is now the worst beer I have ever drank, was the aptly named Sam Adams WTF. I don’t plan on detailing the flavors of any other of the beers we had, but this deserves special attention. It poured a bright red color in our tasting glasses and smelled of Pine-Sol. The taste was a mixture of Robitussin and some sort of cleaning product. After two small sips I had to pour it into a near by bucket. Later in the night, that area began reeking of pine…apparently no one else really liked it either.

Another great part of NotB was the free food. I had previously heard of what festival-goers call “crack waffles”, and I have to say they live up to their name. The waffles from The Waffle Cabin were the best Belgian waffles I had ever had in my life, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to eat any others without suffering a severe disappointment. There was also a stand that was making grilled cheese. Towards the end of the night they made grilled sandwiches that had Fluff, Nutella, and Reese’s Pieces which were amazing as well.

The Saturday sessions were a great time as well with a lot of great beer. Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merkin was a phenomenal Oatmeal Stout, Ithaca LeBleu was delicious, and nothing was very disappointing. I got a high five from Tomme Arthur (head brewer of Lost Abbey) when I told him that the Double Framboise we had had the previous night put a Belgian version of the beer to shame. Although there were more people, everything seemed more orderly and less crowded on Saturday.

Overall, this was a really fun festival and I would definitely go back. I wish they’d get a larger place to hold it, but once the first rush of people from the line settled down it wasn’t too bad to get beer. Perhaps we’ll make the trip to Boston again next year.

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