Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Hate Micro Brew Guy

I went to the "Winter Warmer" beer festival last Sunday at the Rock Bottom Brewery. There were 13 regional breweries/brew pubs pouring winter style ales/stouts/porters, and overall the quality was really good. A few things I observed... 1) Craft brew enthusiasts are almost exclusively male, bearded, and not very stylish. As I looked around, I felt like I was at some sort of hippie lumberjack mixer. Then I thought about it, and decided I would probably fit right in if I grew that beard. I might need to step up my wardrobe, and keep shaving. 2) When a bunch of guys get together to show off their beer, you know too much is never enough. Who needs 6% alcohol when you can have 11.3%? Why make a beer called "extra hop" when you can make "Ultra Hop Fucker Grande Deluxe"? 3) If you were a single woman that is not too picky (or completely open to some questionable men), this would be a great opportunity to get your next bad boyfriend. There were a lot of socially awkward guys that were probably about as extroverted as they ever get at this thing. 4) If you spend the afternoon sampling 40 beers with alcohol contents averaging around 8.5, you are going to take a nice nap when you get home.

A few of my favorites include "Boris the Crusher" from Hoppin' Frog Brewing Company. As you can imagine, this isn't a light beer. This is a syrupy thick stout that you cannot possibly drink two of in one sitting. Hoppin' Frog also makes a really nice Double IPA called the "Mean Manalishi". Boris the Crusher has a 9.4% alcohol content, and Mean Manalishi 8.2%, so these are Big Boy beers. Thirsty Dog's Siberian Nights Russian Imperial Stout is another one that might not be best for your next neighborhood bar-b-que, but on a cold winter day was great. Not as much mouthfeel as the Hoppin' Frog offering, but a classic chocolate/coffee flavor profile. Main Street Brewing Company from Garretsville had another classic stout called 35 Extra that is well worth seeking out. I had never heard of them, and the guy pouring wasn't much fun, but the beer was pretty good. Buckeye Brewing Company has a super hopped up IPA called 76' IPA that clips in at 7.5% alcohol that I really liked. They weren't pouring their more popular Hippie IPA, so I don't know how it contrasts. They also poured an ale called Zatek Ale that's an asskicker at 9.3% alcohol that might be best left alone. That seems like a headache in a big bottle. Cornerstone Brewing in Berea had a South of the Border porter that was infused with spices that left me wanting more kick. The Hickory Oak Aged Ale also could have used more wood. Despite the specialty beers just missing the mark, I think I need to investigate this operation more closely. I was much more impressed by the balance of these beers than on my initial visit there years ago. Ohio Brewing Company had the worst position possible, having to pour by an opening in the tent that allowed the 18 degree wind to blast onto the staff. The Ol' Hoppy IPA was my favorite, but it was so friggin cold I didn't stay in their area for long. Great Lakes poured their Blackout Stout and Commodore Perry IPA, both of which are outstanding. They also poured a Barleywine that I really didn't need to have on top of all these other samples.

The upside about this event is that you can try a large selection of hard to find beers in one place. The downside is that around 4:30pm, you have a few big guys with beards sleeping (passed out) slumped over at tables. Look for a more extensive tasting in the first annual Cleveland Beer Fiasco coming up in March. I am going to get a large vehicle, throw a bunch of characters into it, and drive around to as many of these places as possible to see exactly what is doing. Full report pending...


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