"What the heck is Noogfest?" asked my wife when I inquired about making an overnight trip to Chattanooga. Since she is not a member of Ratebeer.com, I had to explain. Noogfest is an annual unofficial gathering of various Ratebeer.com members in Chattanooga. Everyone brings beer to share for a marathon tasting. Luckily my wife agreed to go even though she is pregnant and can not drink.
This year, Noogfest was held at Big River Grille on May 31st, and was scheduled to go from 3pm EST to midnight. That meant that we had to leave Nashville no later than noon. Noon arrived and I was standing at the door, anxiously awaiting for my wife to return from our daughter's dance practice (which was running late). As soon as they pulled into the drive, I ushered my wife into van and handed off the daughter to her grandma. "Honey, slow down or you are going to get ticket," as I tried to contain my excitement that we were finally on our way.
We pull up to the Chattanooga Hilton Garden Inn at about 4:00 pm EST. I check in, hand off the room key, and drag my wheeled cooler over to Big River Grille. The host leads me back to a private room where about 25 people are busy rating beer. Ha! I did not miss much. A quiet room of "ratebeerians" means that things just got under way. I say my hellos and then head over to the beer table. One glance at the selection assured me that I made a wise decision to attend this event. The table was full of rare beers, many of which I have never tried. More beers were sitting in coolers, but there was one problem. 90% of these beers were high alcohol beers (over 10%!) and there was only 8 hours to drink them. Unlike my college days, hangovers are not an easy recovery for a middle-aged dude like me. I remembered the wise words of Ratebeer.com member Springslicker, "A beer tasting is a marathon, not a sprint." My plan of attack was to priortize the beers that I wanted to sample, pace myself, and drink lots and lots of water along the way.
Two hours into the tasting, my wife stopped by for dinner after shopping. I told her that the high alcohol beers were making me sleepy. She suggested that I drink a few diet cokes with dinner and walk her back to the hotel. Guess what? It worked. I returned to the tasting with a second wind and sampled beers until closing. I survived the 8 hour beer marathon! Even though I had enough energy to join the after hours tastings, I decided to go back to the hotel and get some rest. I woke up the following morning without a hangover, had breakfast, and drove back to Nashville a happy man.
Some of my personal favorites from the tasting were Lost Abbey Serpents Stout, Five Seasons Crouching Tiger Hidden Poulet Saison, Central Waters Brewhouse Coffee Stout, Valley Brew Wildcat Bourbon Barrel Sour Stout, and Tyranena Devil Over A Barrel.
Another big surprise appearance was a vertical of Alesmith Barrel-Aged Old Numskull, as well as single bottles of Alesmith Barrel Aged Speedway and Wee Heavy. These beers are released once every year or two at the brewery, and are limited to around 200 bottles. The BA Speedway recently sold on ebay for over $500! This is just a prime example of the generosity of the Ratebeer community.
The winner for me was the Lost Abbey Cuvee De Tomme, which was a superb Belgian influenced strong sour ale that was delicately balanced. I would love to try this one again. I plan to visit Port Brewing in August, perhaps brewer Tomme Arthur has a secret stash of this stuff. One can only hope.
next road trip blog- Providence, RI
Smitty (front right) taking notes at Noogfest 4.0
Posted by Smitty at 10:59 AM