Brittany and I are no experts on beer - a lot of people at American Craft Beer Fest clearly knew much more about hops, IPAs, local breweries, and everything else having to do with craft beer. But ACBF was the perfect way to welcome Brittany back to Boston and launch our blog. And it was certainly a success.
To be fair, I'm not at the very beginning of my beer learning curve - summer 2011 included many nights drinking beer by a bonfire and watching every Stanley Cup game at Joshua Tree (except the final game, which we watched, amazingly/hilariously enough, at my favorite gay dance club, Machine). Friends have encouraged me to try new beers and learn more about my tastes. This winter I learned about the brewing process at the Sam Adams Brewery in JP. And most importantly, last fall I attended Boston Beer Summit, an event smaller than but similar to ACBF.
At Boston Beer Summit, you could feasibly try every brewery (there were far to many at ACBF for that), could see them all at once (the World Trade Center was much too large), and there was more of a variety beyond American craft beers. ACBF bills itself as "the east coast's largest celebration of American beer," and they're not kidding. Boston Beer Summit was baby size compared to this. I discovered my love of hard cider and mead at the Beer Summit. But ACBF had their priority: BEER.
There were some things I knew going in that I had reaffirmed at ACBF: I don't like a lot of hops or very dark beers and I do like fruit. Luckily there were fruit flavors galore. Off the top of my head, I remember blueberry, apricot, watermelon, and passionfruit. One thing I learned at ACBF: American ales tend to be more hoppy, which made my tasting experience a little difficult. I now can say 100% I don't like IPAs because ACBF had a lot of IPAs.
There were over 500 different beers to try, so we knew we'd have to move fast, and even then we couldn't try it all. A fun-looking booth and short lines were key to getting us to try your beer. Unfortunately we lost track of our tasting checklist, but we remember the stand outs. And I definitely remember my favorite brewery: Kona Brewing Company. They set the record for farthest distance traveled to ACBF (5,069 miles) and I'm so glad they made the trek.
With a booth near the entrance, Kona was one of the first places we tried - and was the last one on our way out the door. Brittany and I tried to go for a different beer at every brewery so that we tried as many as possible. At Kona, Brittany went for the "Wailua Wheat," which they described as a "wheat beer with a little bit of passionfruit in it," and I tried the Koko Brown, a "toasted coconut brown ale."
The Wailua Wheat (American Pale Wheat Ale 5.4%) was light and actually had a strong taste of passionfruit, which I loved. I can definitely imagine laying out in the sun with a book and some of this beer. The Koko Brown (American Brown Ale 5.5%) was equally delicious in a totally different way. It was described as having a coconut flavor, which it definitely did. But it struck me as very similar to the coffee and mocha style beers I had tried in the past. Delicious.
There were plenty of other beers worth writing about, of course. Beer Works' Godzilla (American Strong Ale 15%) sounded intimidating, and for good reason. Brittany tried it first and wasn't a fan, but I actually quite enjoyed it. It had a lot of flavor and you could definitely feel the higher alcohol content as it went down. Pretty Things was great and was Brittany's favorite brewery.
Beyond the beer, we quickly learned that the people are one of ACBF's greatest assets. Whether it's observing some interesting folks, learning about the beer from an enthusiastic brewer, or chatting with some of our fellow buzzed beer-drinkers, we were entertained all night. We saw someone with a lot of tassels, some neon yellow pants, a bachelor party, and friends, family, and couples of all ages. Three Heads Brewing was one of Brittany's favorite breweries...because she liked the guys at the booth. A guy named Sumir wanted to make sure we got his name spelled accurately in our blog. (Hey, Sumir!) On the T home, we met a couple guys who were the friendliest people we met all night.
This post really doesn't cover the enormity that was ACBF. Visit their website to learn more about the festival itself. And ask us if you want to see the videos that didn't make the video cut.