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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hartford Better Beer Fest was a class act

The good folks at Franklin Distributors got us into the event as "VIPs"
God bless their hearts.

They wanted to give me an idea of what sort of fest they were capable of putting together
as I help plan my own charity event. Let's just say I was impressed.

The Hartford Better Beer Fest was a class act. The event was held in the "Society Room of Harford"... Ooooh... Well ladee dah! Actually, this is a beautiful building... (Photos coming later...)

From the site...

In the glorious Society Ballroom, you have a room of grand marble columns soaring to an exquisitely muraled ceiling, some thirty five feet above the dance floor. The sweeping staircase flows down from the 3,000 square floor balcony, providing a dramatic focal point for grand entrances and photographic opportunities. Marble, limestone, brass and bronze accents adorn the opulent Ballroom in a setting right out of the Great Gatsby.

Fest goers chat and enjoy some fine American craft beers on the dance floor.
(One couple actually did dance!)

Folks gather around on of the numerous imported beer tables up on the balcony.
Classy, but still down to earth enough for jeans.

Kenn admires the architecture and poor lighting over a tasty beverage.

They had live jazz playing and a delightful variety of some high-end hors d'oeuvres. Oh, and did I mention there was beer too? Is that how you spell hors d'oeuvres?

Downstairs, in the 'Society Ballroom', was a wide variety of domestic craft beers, ranging from Flying Dog and Anchor Steam, to Brooklyn Brewery and Southern Tier. Additionally there was a wide variety of imports upstairs along the balcony. I spent a fair amount of time at the Trappist table. Man, you gotta love those monks...

Kenn came straight from work (minus a detour)
So he was probably more properly attired than I.

Here are some quick notes on the beers we sampled in alphabetical order by brewery:

With so many beers available, my tasting notes were long, and sloppy...
Below is what I could manage to decipher from my fest hieroglyphics.

  • Brewery: Achel (Belgium/Trappist) - Now I failed to take note of which Achel I sampled, so these notes are only so meaningful. The beer was pleasantly complex, with flavors ranging from grapefruit to maple to raisin. This may be my new favorite Trappist beer, if only I knew which one it was...
  • Brewery: Anchor (US/Liberty Ale) - I dig this beer, after all we share a birthday. Just a good all around Ale, even Kenn enjoyed it despite the hoppiness. He said he, "could have a few," and thought he detected a hint of grapefruit.
  • Brewery: Avery (US/Beast Cru) - Not bad, but the flavor of alcohol was apparent, although it was balanced by the malty backbone, not for the faint at heart. A big beer.
  • Brewery: Flying Dog (US/Dogtoberfest) - A typical Oktoberfest, not overly flavorful, but easy going down. A kin to Spaaten, less flavorful and less smoaky, then say a Sam Adam's Oktoberfest.
  • Brewery: Flying Dog (US/Kerberos Tripel) - Not a bad beer, less fruity than the Stoudts Triple lower on this list. More of a dry finish.
  • Brewery: Franziskaner (Germany/Hefe Weiss) - Tasty (fruity/wheat), with a strong pleasant aroma even I could detect.
  • Brewery: Hartford Better Beer Company (US/Praying Mantis Porter) - Surprisingly light, toasty and effervescant, even I could smell it. Kenn called it the spritzer of Porters, meaning it's light and fizzy.
  • Brewery: McEwan's (Scottish/Scotch Ale) - Too sweet for me, I've had better.
  • Brewery: Nøgne Ø (Norway/IPA) - A big malty backbone on this IPA, not what I expected.
  • Brewery: Nøgne Ø (Norway/Imperial Stout) - Thin, but leaves a residue. Flavors of chocolate, coffee and raisin come to mind.
  • Brewery:Rochefort (Belgium/Trappist 6) - Nice and easy, very tasty. Fruity and malty.
  • Brewery:Rochefort (Belgium/Trappist 10) - Also nice but less easy. Alcohol flavor is detectable, but not offensive, mixes with the malty body. A sipping beer, to be enjoyed slowly by the fire.
  • Brewery: Southern Tier (US/Pumkin Ale) - Very nice! The pumpkin was surprisingly subtle, but would go well with this Thanksgiving's feast.
  • Brewery: Southern Tier (US/Java) - The name says it all. A nice sipping beer that taste like java. Not bad, if you go for that sort of thing.
  • Brewery: Stoudts (US/Triple) - Not bad, taste like apricot.
  • Brewery: Tririez (France/Farmhouse Extra Ale) - Tasty, another beer with an aroma that hits hard. Citrus, meets honey, meets hops.
  • Brewery: Unibroue (Canada/Maudite) - Good, malty, hints of raisin. (I tasted raisin a lot that night...)
  • Brewery: Unibroue (Canada/La Fin du Monde) - Malty but hoppy, interesting, not great, but certainly complex. Worth a try, it maybe your thing.
  • Brewery: Westmalle (Belgium/Trappist Dubble) - Very tasty... Perhaps my second favorite Trappist beer, perhaps...
  • Brewery: Westmalle (Belgium/Trappist Triple) - Tasty, sweet, smooth, with grapefruit undertones. I like it, but prefer the Dubble.
I ran into, sorry man can't remember your name, from CT Beverage Mart. He's helped me select the right beer for that special occasion more than once or twice. For some reason, he had me mistaken for another patron of CTBM, and thought we had an altercation in the past. Something about me punching him after not enjoying a wheat beer he recommended. That must have been some other guy...

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