Sunday, April 8, 2012

2nd Annual Missouri Beer Festival Recap

WOW – Its 1:30 AM, and I am just now finishing up the review of the 2nd Annual Missouri Beer Festival, held in Columbia Missouri.

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I’m not going to apologize for the length of this post – because there was a lot to capture, and some very excellent breweries that deserve recognition.

This years turnout was pretty good, although it felt like there was Fest3less representation than last year, but more people.  I overheard that they stopped selling tickets about two hours in – it was just that full.

Noticeably absent this year were Public House Brewing Company and Prison Brews out of Jefferson City. 

To make up for them being gone, we had several new comers this year – and boy did they bring it…so much so that  my Top 3 Beers came from them.

This years winners were (in no order) -

  • Rock Bridge Brewery – Cysquatch IPA
  • Piney River Brewing Company - Missouri Mule IPA
  • O’Fallon Brewery – 5 Day IPA
  • Honorable Mention – Sonshine Graphics for this years Beer Glass.

You’ll probably notice that they were all IPAs, and I get that.  Its what I like.  That doesn’t mean I do not appreciate other styles (this year seemed to be “Belgium” Heavy) – its just that the Hops speaks to me.

This year also saw a dynamic shift towards customer service.  I spoke with every Rep that I reviewed below, and they were all friendly, courteous and knowledgeable (with the exception of Mother’s).  You could tell their passion for brewing and they were all ready to discuss various nuances and flavors all day long.  This was much better than last year, where a few were quite standoffish or were just a “Pretty Face” to push beer. 

If I had any complaints about this year, it would be three -

Fest 4InBev’s Presence – Just as I mention a “Pretty Face” to push beer, that seemed to be all InBev was doing.  They actually had three tables (Stella, Shock Top and Goose Island) and I tried to engage all the reps with each.  I felt they didn’t know their brands, tried to cover up that they were with InBev (particularly the Stella rep) and really just wanted to unload and get out.  I personally think this speaks volumes when compared to the Craft Brewers present.  I’ve always been open for my disdain for InBev, and today just reinforced it. 

Lack of Trashcans -Granted, with the inclusion of a tasting glass (thank you) this year – there was less of a need – but with paper plates and napkins out there, there definitely needs to be a place to throw them away.

The Music was to loud (again) -  I know people like music, but why do we have to have bands that are just so loud (boy I sound old).  The second band was better than the first, but with Tom Bradley’s affiliation to the Zimmer group, why not have a remote broadcasting and then pipe in the music overhead? 

Ok, that’s enough of my rambling – On to what you probably came here for……the Reviews -

Fest 8Rock Bridge Brewery – Totally NEW Brewery.  How new?  The official release starts on Wednesday….that’s how new.

  • Sif’s Blonde –Just on Name Alone – I could see my buddy Glenn buying this (he’s crazy for that Norse Stuff).  This blond actually surprised me with a crisp hoppyness up front, followed by an excellent citrus finish.   MugMugMug
  • Farmers Daughter Saison– The very first beer I tried when walked through the door and I knew this day was going to go well with this as the leadoff hitter.  I really liked the rye and spice, combined with peppercorns, and I was surprised that Debi liked it too (considering the hops).  With an ABV of 5.7%, it was a little heavier than a traditional Saison (3-3.5% ABV) – but it works.  This beer turned out really well, and was very ambitious for a new brewery.  I can’t wait until they let this one age a little. MugMugMug
  • Cysquatch IPA – I’ll be honest, when I ordered the IPA and saw how cloudy it was when it was brought over….I initially thought I was getting a wheat.  Instead, what I got was some outstanding beer that packed a punch.  The complex hops, married with the a slightly higher alcohol content was excellent.  Much like the Saison, this beer could use a little aging, but – for what was in the glass – it was excellent.  Many many trips back to the booth for this one.                           MugMugMugMug
  • Trivia – Stu, the brew master, used to work for O'Fallon Brewery.  Small world huh?

Broadway Brewery -

  • Kolsch – Having had the original style Kolsch in Cologne Germany, I have to say, if you are going to do a German Beer – you gotta bring it.  Broadway’s Kolsch was middle of the road, and I felt they were a little heavy handed with the hops – something I have said about them in the past.  I do commend them for attempting this type of lager (the brewery to bring that to the table this year).  MugMugMug
  • Deviled Eggs – Listed as bringing Grilled Spinach Artichoke Flatbread, so I was a little disappointed in another Deviled Egg offering.  Pretty basic – OK, but I’ve had better at Thanksgiving.

Tall Grass Brewing Co. – Best joke of the day comes at the expense of Tall Grass.  When I pointed out that Rep was not as good looking as the Rep from last year (Kara), I got an exasperated look followed by “I’ve heard that ALL DAY”.

  • 8-Bit Pale Ale – A quality Pale Ale with the coolest can.  Not as “Hoppy” as Oasis, this was a more mellow beer that I could see breaking out for my geeky friends or possibly pouring for my wife (who is NOT a hop-head).  Crisp and flavorful, would be an excellent summer beer.  Also, the only beer to have its own VIDEO……ahhh the 80s. MugMugMug

  

1839 Taphouse – I didn’t get to talk to the Taphouse folks that much, as they were in a poor location….right by the door.  The flow of traffic made it hard for conversation and (much like Shakespeare's) when pizza showed up, the ravaging hoards descended.

  • 1839 Pilsner – Custom brewed for them by Boulevard.

        MugMug 

  • Taphouse Ale - MugMug
  • Beer Dough Pizza – Even though they were competing against Shakespeare's, they represented well.   WW

Whiskey Wild Saloon – The ladies from Whiskey Wild again brought cocktails this year…..which was nice.  They also went with the very generic beer lineup of Blue Moon & Coors Light.  Really?  COORS LIGHT?  Oh well, at least they had hotdogs too.

44 Stone –What can I say?  Everyone knows I love these guys, and they brought some food again this year. Sadly, they were close to the speakers for the band, so it was hard to talk to them – but when I did, I could tell they were having a successful day. 

  • Deviled Eggs – Better than Broadway  - the ORIGINAL Eggs of the Festival were just how I liked them.
  • Welsh Rarebit – While I liked this, I don’t think it worked as well with the crowd – partly because people didn’t know what they were getting into, which is sad.  Fest5
  • Avery Beers and Stone Brewing– I tried 3 of the lineup, but (sadly) it seems I lost that note sheet.  I know, I know – irresponsible drinking.  All of them were great- I guess I will have to go visit Dave at the bar and try them all over again.

Piney River Brewing Co.– Best story of the day! When we first walked in, I said I remembered these guys from last year.  Both the staff and Debi corrected me, saying they were not there – so I was a bit confused.  Later, when talking with the owner, he remembered that I started following them on Twitter almost as soon as they opened a year ago – and we just never hooked up for a brewery tour.  So I was ALMOST right.  Great Staff, very friendly.

  • Missouri Mule IPA – “Maltier” than I expected, with an excellent hoppy finish.  One of three beers that I went back for more of, definitely Top 5 Beer of the Show.                       MugMugMugMug
  • Trivia – When asked why they went with cans vs bottles – because of their location on the river, they wanted to do their part to discourage the possibility of broken glass with boaters.  Love That Idea!

Shakespeare’s Pizza – What are you going to say?  It’s a Columbia Icon.  I had a running joke all day with them, as it seemed that every time I came in their area – they were out of Pizza.  Of course, it was not due to lack of trying – it was just that good.   My wife introduced me to artichokes on Pizza through Shakespeare's, so there will always be a soft spot in my heart.  Good luck with the new restaurant!

Mother’s Brewing Co. – I’m going to be honest here, the only saving Fest2grace for Mother’s was the Winter Grind Coffee Stout.  Lil Helper was ok, but quickly forgettable when compared to the O’Fallon 5 Day IPA or the Rock Bridge Cysquatch IPA.  Three Blind Mice didn’t work for me at all (and this was early in the day, so my palate was fresh).    I personally felt their beer was running to cold (I get it- it was on ice, but everyone else had this same struggle) and this affected flavors.  If you only have 5 minutes to wow me – this is not the way to do it.

Another side note, Debi commented to me that the staff were a little rude to her.  I understand the place was packed, BUT – we were in before they even opened the doors – so they really didn’t have an excuse to be in a bad mood.  Everyone that knows my wife, knows she can be opinionated – and just that little brush is enough to keep us from visiting or from her to every buy again.

This last statement is really sad…..BECAUSE  the Winter Grind Coffee Stout was the only stout I saw on the day – but it made up for it.  This was a pure joy, and a true breakfast beer.  Front ended coffee flavors and a creamy finish made this one definitely stand out for me. 

  • Lil Helper = Mug
  • Three Blind Mice - Mug
  • Winter Grind Coffee Stout - MugMugMug

Griesedieck Brothers Brewery

  • Premium Golden Pilsner – When I say a beer reminds me of my Dad, I mean that as a compliment.  He came from an era when men were men, and they loved their beers.  This Pils definitely harkens back to days of burning down the house while Barbequing (no sissy propane back then), Fishing on the lake or just relaxing listening to baseball on the radio.  A very nostalgic beer – and one I would put up there with Stag as being very Old School.  If you like the “classics”, I would highly recommend.  MugMugMug
  • Unfiltered Bavarian Style Wheat – Ok, I’m going to be snobby for a second.  When you read the history of GB, you learn they come from Westphalia Germany.  Not a region that is particularly known for brewing.  So, for them to put out a Bavarian style wheat – its kinda ballsy.  Well, it worked.  I cut my teeth (so to speak) on a lot of Bavarian beer (as Glenn can attest) and for me to say this lives up to the style is high praise.  I don’t know how far their distribution is, but for all my old friends from Germany (now living in the States), if you want a taste of “Home” – pick up one of these.                 MugMugMug

O’Fallon Brewery

  • O’Fallon 5 Day IPA – Sadly, this was the only beer I tried from them, but I loved it (and returned many times).  Friendly staff that was willing to talk allowed me to learn that this beer spends an extra 5 days “Resting” on top of a hops bed – which adds an extra complexity that works really well.

           MugMugMugMug

 

Looking back – this was a long post, but it was well worth it. 

Part 2 - HERE

Part 3 - HERE

I want to thank Tom, the Stoney Creek Inn and everyone else for putting together another great show – I cant wait until next year.

Cheers-

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