Well, did you go? Were you able to elbow through the crowds around the InBev booth? Did you see the Boulevard Tap Trailer? Or, did the 48 degree forecast dissuade you from leaving the comfort of your heated man cave? If you opted to stay home and watch college football then you missed out on some quality beers. Don't feel too bad, most of this year's selection seemed like it was donated by Lukas Liquor. So if you really wanna try the Great Divide Titan or New Belgium 1554 but were too lazy to drive up to Legends, you can just go down to the corner store and pick up a sixer.
What made the KC Beer Fest worthwhile was the "bang for buck" as Doug Frost would say in-between cheesy puns about your career choice and your favorite restaurant. Tickets to get in were $25, if you bought in advance, and that got you a 6oz snifter (if you got there late you probably got a slightly smaller glass) and samples from any of the 300 different beers on display. Considering most of the beers would run you about $10 a six pack or $7-14 for a 750ml bottle, this was a pretty good deal.
Now, it wasn't all rainbow farts and lollipops at the KC Beer Fest... there were plenty of dude bros in attendance and the cover band played Sweet Home Alabama at least twice. My girlfriend, the St. Pauli Girl, overheard one young lady say to her friend, "Where's the Budweiser booth, that's all I wanna to know!" But enough about the cliches and lames.
We made our way around the beer fest in numerical order, stopping at about three quarters of the booths before all of the booths on the north side of the event all ran out of beer at the same time. I started the event off with an Avery Out of Bounds Stout which was roasty, dark and perfect for standing in the cold with a couple hundred people who just couldn't wait for someone to drop their glass so they could make a scene.
Not to bore you with the details of every beer that I tried, I thought I'd just run down the short list of beers that I liked enough to spend money on in the future. In no particular order they were:
Corsendonk: This is a beer I've had once before about a year ago. I'd only had the brown ale before, which was sweet like candied fruit and had a bit of funky wild Belgian yeast. I tried their pale ale as well and liked it quite a bit. The pale is less sweet, more hoppy and loaded with malt.
Left Hand Haystack Wheat: I'm not sure how I've missed this one before but I've never actually brought home a bottle of the Haystack Wheat. It doesn't sound terribly interesting and you'd probably expect it to be a lot like Boulevard's Unfiltered Wheat but Left Hand actually made this more like a traditional Hefeweizen. This beer has the banana and coriander flavors the Germans can't get enough of. This was a pleasant surprise and I'll definitely pick up a sixer of this next time I see it.
Left Hand Smoke Jumper: I have a special place in my gullet for smoke beers, so of course I liked the Smoke Jumper. Like the better smoke beers out there, this one smells like bacon and tastes like grease drippings and burnt barley. There were a number of smoked porters at the beer fest but this one was the best.
Boulevard Dry Hopped Nutcracker: Dubbed the Nutsack, this beer is a special hoppier version of the Nutcracker Christmas seasonal. Dry hopping isn't usually something I'm too keen on but the Nutcracker is a darker, maltier beer that can hold it's hops better than an IPA or APA in my opinion. I mean, adding more hops to an already hoppy Pale Ale? What's so exciting about that? The Nutsack, on the otherhand, takes it in a different direction. I tried to go back from seconds on this one but it seems a lot of Beer Fest goers really like the taste of nutsack...
Boulevard Long Strange Tripel: This was the last Smokestack beer I have yet to bring home. I can't really explain why though... I finally got a glass of the tripel from the back of the Boulevard van and it was much better than I thought it would be. I didn't expect it to be bad, it was just really good. Maybe it was because Trip poured it himself.
Nøgne Ø #100: This is a beer I've been wanting to try for a quite a while. I've seen these Norwegian beers at the store but their $10+ price tag (for a 12oz bottle) has deterred me from picking one up. The #100 is a barley wine style beer that tasted like sour cherry, toffee and a little oaky. If the ABV weren't in the double digits I would have gone back for seconds...
Honorable mentions and beers that I thought were good at the time but probably wouldn't stand up to a more sober critique were:
Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat: This beer smelled really good and tasted a lot like the Isolation Ale I had just before it. Odell is known for quality beers while Tallgrass isn't so I'll chalk this one up to the Isolation's coattails...
High Noon Saloon Annie's Amber: Kudos for cramming an ungodly amount of hops in a 12oz aluminum can. Maybe next time you can try and fit some malt in there?
And lastly, the beers I'm ashamed to have even asked for a free sample of...
Ed Hardy Premium Beer: I couldn't bring myself to try both the beers so I figured if I had to drink one I might as well go for the "Premium Beer." Honestly, this tasted like a creamy Bud Light. It was horrible.
Rosée d'Hibiscus: I hate to put this in the same category as Ed Hardy's Premium Beer but I just didn't care for this beer. It looked and smelled like Cherry 7up and tasted like a flat Rosé wine... So far Dieu du Ciel is 0/2 in my book.
Lagunitas' Everything: Hey guys, I get it... you like IPAs. Seriously, does every beer you make have to have more hops than the last? I think your true calling may have been to run a hop farm, not brew beer.
Well, that pretty much sums up my day at the KC Beer Fest. After about three hours of solid drinking St. Pauli Girl and I had to pack away our tasting glass away and hightail it back to Overland Park in time for a baptism. Seriously...