Drinking in Boston: American Craft Beer Fest Recap

By Llalan on Jun 25, 2009

The huge room teemed with beer lovers. Some displayed their love on their chest with a T-shirt from a favorite brewery. Others showed their dedication through their clipboards and spreadsheets with columns for aroma, taste, and feel. Everyone was out for a good time and for good beer, both of which were to be found. They also were all in search of the perfect brew.

In the battle for best beer of the ACBF, the stouts took an early lead with Southern Tier’s Mokah leading the pack. This black beer, brewed with coffee and chocolate, was like a candy bar in a glass, only without the cloying sweetness a Hershey’s can leave behind. The Cambridge House’s Three Steve Stout was another winner, full and smoky. Another great beer was Brooklyn Brewery’s Intensified Coffee Stout, which truly lived up to its name. Otter Creek’s Russian Imperial Stout was surprisingly creamy and smooth, as was (not surprisingly) The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery’s Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout.

Despite the stouts’ initial lead, the IPAs came back with a vengeance, with several unique offerings at the head of the race. Ballast Point Brewing shared a double called Dorado Double IPA. At 10% abv it was remarkably easy going down and had a beautiful floral aura about it.

More IPAs, Sessions, and other beers after the break!

Honest Town Brewery had an IPA that smelled and tasted like a double, as did The Cambridge House and as did Surly Brewing in their Furious IPA; all worth trying. Stone Brewing Company came to the fest armed with their usual arsenal of delicious, cleverly-named beers. This year’s stand out was the Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, a black IPA: looks like a stout, thanks to its dark roast malts, but tastes hoppy and smells somewhat floral.

Among other beers in the running for favorite festival brew were a few session beers. Bear Republic Brewing’s NorCal California bitter was a great example: best drunk in large gulps over the span of a long hot afternoon. Dogfish Head brought a keg of the first beer they ever brewed, Shelter Pale Ale. Dogfish calls it their most “approachable” beer, and it is that; a session beer unlike any of their other brews.

There were also a few more experimental beers there that caught our eye. Brooklyn had Cuvee de Cardoz, a Belgian-style wheat with lots of spices, leaving one with an overall impression of cloves. This led one woman to quip, “Tastes like hipsters!” Lastly Victory Brewing has been putting out Wild Devil, an IPA with Brettanomyces, a type of yeast. The flavor was almost outdoorsy; fresh and breezy yet hoppy without the harshness of the Hop Devil.

To conclude and cop-out a bit, there was no final winner for best beer at the ACBF. The festival provided an astounding amount of astounding beers, and it would be foolish to name one as the absolute standout. The above suggests a select few this Bostonist enjoyed and would recommend, but always remember to experiment and to push your boundaries.

Contact the author of this article or email tips@bostonist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

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