Flying Saucer Fall Beer Festival

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I have been to many many beer festivals. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with them. I love sampling the beers and hanging with fellow beer aficionados. I hate the crowds, long lines, obnoxious drunks, and event planning oversights. The good folks at Obsidian Public Relations offer me some media passes, so I brought along my notebook and a beer- loving photographer (even though I was going to attend anyway). Keep in mind that I was only at the event from 12 to 3pm. Here are my thoughts based on my personal criteria:
  • Event Scheduling: Excellent. Let's face it, fall is the best time of year for an outdoor festival. Our summers are way too hot for a beer festival. Eliminating the multi-session concept and having the event open from 12 pm to 10 pm  was more convenient and flexible.
  • Lines: There were not any. Not for entry, not for beer, and not to use the rest room. 
  • Cost: Very reasonable for a beer festival. Admission was free, but you could purchase a $20 tasting card, which enabled you to sample ten 4 ounce beers. For $1 more, you had the option to purchase a pint glass which enabled you to a 16 ounce pour at the "Full Pint" tent after every 3rd beer sampled. Tokens for pints and food were also available.
  • Beer Selection: Good. 24 beers from US craft brewers covering a nice range of beer styles. I think the only weakness in the line up was the lack of another solid Belgian style offering. There were six tents with four beers each- Local, West US, East US, High Gravity, Captain Keith's Picks, and a Full Pint Tent. I appreciated the absence of macro breweries and "alco pops" like Mike's Hard Lemonade. I seemed to remember a mention of rare or out-of-market beers in an email, but none of those made an appearance during my visit.
  • Food: I can't really comment since I did not eat. But it looked good!
  • Facilities: Good. This was just a typical tent set up in the parking lot, but there was plenty of room to walk around. They also provided a large tent for seating. Rest rooms were available inside, as well as porta potties outside. I had no problem getting water to cleanse my palate and rinse my glass. 
  • Staff: Friendly and personable. They all appeared to be having fun and enjoying the festival
  • Attendance: A nice mix of age groups. The attendees were very civil and outgoing. It was about at one third capacity when I left.
I believe that a good beer festival is about quality, not quantity. Every beer listed on the tasting card was a quality-made offering. Larger festivals often only give 1 or 2 ounce pours and a cheap plastic mug. This minimizes the olfactory and tasting experience. Flying Saucer provided 4 ounce pours in a glass taster, which was far more optimal for beer tasting.

I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but the event planners removed the annoyances assoicated with many beer festivals. I raise my glass to a successful event. I shall return next year. For those that were there after 3pm, please post your comments (good or bad).

Nashville Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival

Geez! Nashville is overflowing with beer festivals this year. That's a great sign that beer culture is growing in the Music City. If you have nothing to do on November 6, I'd suggest that you check out the Nashville Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival held at the Municipal Auditorium. I tried to take advantage of the $23 groupon offer, but it sold out quickly. Tickets are now back to full price. Bummer!

If you need more information on the event, you can can visit the official website.



Grab Your Wallet- Lots Of New Arrivals!

If you are heading to the Flying Saucer Beer Festival on Saturday, you may want to stop by Midtown Wine & Spirits (or your favorite high gravity beer-friendly liquor store). There are lots of new beers worthy of your frog skins.

For starters, Victory Moonglow Weizenbock is highly recommended. If you are a fan of the classic Schneider Aventinus, I think this is almost as good. As a fan of Harvest Ales, Terrapin So Fresh & So Green is a new one I look forward to trying.

Do you like chocolate, stouts, and a little heft in your beer? Rogue Double Chocolate Stout has just arrived. Speaking of dark beers, Atlanta Brewing Company is also on the high gravity side with their Red Brick Porter- available in 4 paks.

Now to the low gravity side of things. The good people at Bounty Bev should be stocking beers from Buckbean any day now. Look for Black Nody Lager, Tule Duck Red, and Orange Blossom Ale- in cans. Fellow Nashville beer blogger The Beer Snob has reviewed a few of these, so go over there and check out his blog. Negotiations have finally ended with Milwaukee-based Sprecher. Expect to see these beers in November.

Now it's time to finish my Goose Island IPA (sorry, not in Nashville...yet) and rest up for the Flying Saucer Beer Festival tomorrow. See you there! I'll have my "If it's not craft, it's crap" Tshirt on. Cheers


Flying Saucer Beer Festival This Weekend!

I know I posted this a few weeks back, but I wanted to remind everyone that the first annual Flying Saucer Beer Festival is this Saturday. I believe it runs from noon until 10 pm. The great thing about it is that admission is free. If you want to sample beers, you can buy a tasting card for 20 dollars. No tickets, no long lines to get in, and hopefully no obnoxious drunks! There will be several tents and random rare beer offerings throughout the day. I hope to make an appearance at some point.  Cheers!

October: New Brews & Other News

For starters, don't forget about the first annual Tennessee Beer Festival this weekend. It looks like tickets are still available. Expect about 25 breweries and around 90 different beers.

Stone Vertical Epic 10-10-10 is on the shelves for a very limited time. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it's part of a 12 part series that started back on 2-02-02. The purpose of the series is to cellar each year and have a vertical tasting in 2012. I always purchase one to drink, and another to cellar. This year's release sounds interesting:

"Fermented with the legendary Ardennes strain of Belgian yeast, 10.10.10 is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with pale malt and triticale (a cross of wheat and rye), hopped with German Perle hops, and steeped with chamomile during the whirlpool stage. In secondary fermentation, we added a juice blend of Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties."

I also picked up a bottle of Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop Harvest Ale. If you are a hop head, I highly recommend you grab a bottle. This is a very nice beer where the malt profile is as integral as the hop schedule (see my review on the previous post).

Also available is Oxymoron, a collaborative beer between Terrapin and Left Hand Brewing Co. It is described as "an American-style IPA brewed with three German malts, six German hops varieties, and a lager yeast strain."

For those willing to part with $13.99 for a 500ml bottle, Samuel Smith's Stingo has made it's second annual appearance in Nashville (thanks to the anonymous reader for the correction). It's an English Strong Ale that has been aged in oak casks, and I hear it's pretty tasty. However, my wallet is a little thin these days and I may have to pass.

That's it for now. Cheers!


Beer Review- Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop Harvest Ale

It's that time of year when all the Harvest Ales start showing up on the shelves, and hopheads journey down to the beer retailers to get the wet hop goodness. This is my first time trying the Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop Harvest Ale, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts.

 Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop Harvest Ale
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co- Chico, CA

Commercial Description:
Each Fall, hops reach their peak flavor-bursting with aromatic oils that give ales layers of complex flavor and aroma that can only happen at harvest time. For us, fall comes twice a year-once in each hemisphere. This Harvest Ale features "wet" or un-dried whole-cone hops from Yakima, WA that are plucked from the vine and delivered to our brewery within 24 hours of picking.  
ABV: 6.7%

Smitty's Review: Sampled at 55 degrees. Pours a beautiful deep copper amber with a two-finger light beige head that dissipates to a ring. Nice webby lacing that clings to the glass all the way to the end. The nose is a  balance of caramelly malts and fresh crushed hop cones- which give off an aroma that reminds me of an orange grove.  Medium bodied with carbonation that is on the softer side of medium, and a slight creaminess in texture. The malt profile is a nice compliment to the hops, as opposed to pale backdrop. It is an interesting mix of bready malts, caramel and rye. The hops really dominate mid palate, with an assertive grapefruit and piney bitterness that carries through to the long , semi-dry finish.There is an strong amount of hop oils that cling to palate, and I mean they really cling. I will be tasting this tomorrow!

If you are a hop head, you should really enjoy this beer. I think this is Sierra Nevada's Best Harvest ale to date. The fresher the better. Grab this sooner than later.

Rating*: 9.5 out of 10

Recommended Food Pairing: Grilled meats, sharp or spicy cheeses

Good at $4.99 per 24 ounce bottle

Beer Audience: Hop heads and experienced craft beer drinkers.

Where To Buy:  I picked this up at Midtown Wine & Spirits, but other liquor stores with a good craft beer selection should have this.

* rating system based on aroma (1 pt), appearance (1pt), palate (2 pts) flavor (3pts), comparison to other commercial examples of the style (3pts)

Corporate Hospitality and Craft Beer Appreciation

I was recently contacted about organizing a craft beer tasting for a corporate hospitality suite. The client wanted to provide something beyond a typical open bar. The only hurdle was that I was only allowed to select beers  from the hotel's distributor. After sifting through pages and pages of boring macro beers and "alco pops," I found six respectable session beers for the tasting flight. Every audience is different, so it will be interesting to see how the react to my selection. I just printed out the table placards, and now it's time to find my sport jacket. Oh's tomorrow night. Wish me luck!


Beer Review- Dundee Oktoberfest

I figured that since October upon us, it was time to review a Märzen. A good friend of mine recommended that I give Dundee Oktoberfest a try. I was a bit reluctant because I have not enjoyed any Dundee offerings. While they have the craft beer styles and packaging, I have never found their quality to be that great. Priced at $6.99 per six, I went ahead and took another gamble. 

Dundee Oktoberfest
Genessee Brewing Company- Rochester, NY      ABV: 5.5%

Pours a translucent copper orange with a two finger ivory head and lively carbonation. Nice head retention and spotty lacing. Aroma of bready malts, fruity esters, and cheap lager. Lighter side of medium bodied with average carbonation, but with a smooth mouth feel. This starts off with the traditional Munich and Vienna malt flavors of bread grains and caramel, but those flavors weaken mid palate to muted spicy hops. The beer finishes with faint vegetal and corny off flavors (which may be a result of DMS), and leaves a mild soapy bitterness at the back of the mouth.

With craft beer, I believe that you usually get what you pay for,  and this beer is a good example. I would skip this one and pay the extra few dollars for an Märzen (Oktoberfest) from Paulaner, Ayinger, Brooklyn, or Spaten. Am I a beer snob? Nah, I just have high standards.

Rating*: 6 out of 10

Recommended Food Pairing: German food, pork chops

average at $6.99 (considering the quality)

Beer Audience: non finicky Lager drinkers

Where To Buy:  Most grocery stores and retail beer stores. SEASONAL

* rating system based on aroma (1 pt), appearance (1pt), palate (2 pts) flavor (3pts), comparison to other commercial examples of the style (3pts)

Weekend Beer Events

Looking for something to do this weekend? If you want to try some great homebrew, check out the Music City Brew Off this Saturday at the Goodlettsville Marriot. In the mood for German beers and a more family friendly environment? The Oktoberfest in the Germantown neighborhood is worth considering. I may try to hit the brew off if my wife will watch the kids. See you there?