East Nashville Beer Festival 2013: my picks
March 26, 2013
This year’s East Nashville Beer Festival was a complete success! I headed over with Lauren and a few bandmates and friends on Saturday ready to be amazed, and amazed I was! This festival has become one of my favorite days of the year, and Saturday did not disappoint. Lauren has a full review of everything over at Old Red Boots, but here are my top picks, with more personal insight:
Top 5 beers at ENBF 2013:
1. Kentucky Ale: Bourbon Barrel Ale
This is consistently my favorite bourbon barrel aged beer. You get a nice woody, oaky bourbon flavor up front, then a subtle hop character comes through, finishing with a lingering bourbon sweetness. It’s a symphony of all the right flavors.
2. Starr Hill: Psychokilter
Easily one of the best Scotch ales I’ve had. This beer is all about the malt- as it should be- but isn’t overly sweet. Robust and somewhat earthy. Color me impressed!
3. Calfkiller: Classic Spider
Calfkiller has burst onto the TN brewing scene in the past few years with a vengeance. All of their beers are fermented with the same Belgian yeast blend, which gives it a distinctive fruity note that says “this is Calfkiller!” Classic Spider was a special blend of their Brown Recluse and a stout, aged in a bourbon (or maybe it was whiskey?) barrel. I’m not sure if this will become a regularly produced beer, but I wouldn’t mind if it did!
4. Rivertown: Roebling Porter
This is a vanilla & espresso infused imperial porter, and it might as well be liquid dessert. It’s chocolatey, sweet, warming and simply delicious. It’s one of their flagships, too!
Sadly, Rivertown doesn’t distribute to TN. Update: turns out Rivertown DOES distribute to TN- you can get them at Craft Brewed!
5. Yazoo: Hop Project #70 Dry-hopped with Stella hops
Yazoo is known for their creative Hop Project series, in which they use the same malt bill, but different varieties of hops at different boiling schedules for each batch. #70 is the latest batch and (from what I was told at the tap) for this cask they dry-hopped it with a unique Australian hop variety called Stella. As I understand it this was a special cask that Yazoo made for the ENBF, but Hop Project #70 used Stella hops during the boil as well, and is available in retail stores now.
Deschutes: Black Butte Porter and Northwest Pale Ale
Deschutes is an Oregon brewery that sadly hasn’t made it to TN yet, so I was unfamiliar even with these two flagship beers. The Black Butte Porter has a slightly nutty character that you’d expect in a nut brown ale, but yet it’s a porter! The Northwest Pale Ale stuck out to me because they backed away from the assertive hop bitterness that most APA’s are known for, and went for a well-balanced pale ale with a nice hoppy aroma.
Left Hand: Smokejumper Imperial Porter
Reactions to this beer amongst my peers were mixed. For me it was a fine smokey, bacon-y porter. I’ve not met a smoked beer that I didn’t like and this was no exception. Some in my group thought it reminded them too much of a campfire, while others wanted more bacon flavor.
Straight To Ale: Hellfire Quadrupel and Monkeynaut IPA dry-hopped with Citra
This Huntsville brewery produces some fine beers. Their Belgian-style quadrupel, called Hellfire, was warming, earthy, and robust. They also had a special cask of their Monkeynaut IPA that was dry-hopped with Citra hops. The tropical fuity aroma was simply blissful!
French Broad: 13 Rebels ESB
One of my favorite styles of beer is a classic English ESB, or Extra-Special Bitter. I was familiar with French Broad but hadn’t tried their ESB. 13 Rebels was an enjoyable and worthy example of the style. Well-balanced and very session-able, as an ESB should be.
Least Favorite Beer:
New Belgium’s surprise quadrupel.
I unfortunately didn’t take note of exactly what this beer was aged in or what was supposed to be special about it. It was a quad that had (I think) been aged in some sort of wood barrels. What I do remember though, is that is was too blatantly alcoholic up front. There are 10, 11, even 12% ABV beers that still manage to not allow the boozy alcoholic flavor to overrun the character of the beer. This one though, just screamed “BOOZE” at my palate. That being said, New Belgium is one of the finest, and also largest craft breweries in the nation. Everything about them pretty much rules.
Happy drinking and I’ll see you next year at ENBF IV!