Iowa City Brewfest 2012

Brewfest 2012!
Brewfest 2012!

It’s been a couple of weeks since Iowa City Brewfest, 2012, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the event.

With the “Brewmaster” ticket, we were able to enter an hour early, and many brewers had special or limited release beers.  Some of the more memorable ones included:

Overall, I was impressed with the high quality of the unique beers, but a bit disappointed by the low number of special beers.  For example, in the past, New Belgium and Boulevard brought beers either not yet available or a special barrel-aged beer, but this year both brought their widely available beers, from their Lips of Faith (New Belgium) and Smokestack Series (Boulevard).

Overall, it was a very good experience, but with the “Brewmaster” ticket, which has been very valuable in years past, it wasn’t quite as memorable.  My only hope is that the larger breweries recognize what a great beer hotspot Iowa City is, and start saving some of those memorable beers for us!

Did you go to the Iowa City Brewfest 2012?  What was your take?

Samuel Adams Spring Brewers’ Choice Mix Pack 2012

Samuel Adams Spring Brewers' Choice Mix Pack
Samuel Adams Spring Brewers' Choice Mix Pack

For spring, Samuel Adams this year decided to go back to the Brewers’ Choice mix pack instead of again releasing the “American Originals” spring pack. The beers in this year’s spring mix pack show a few big changes, most notably Noble Pils is now a full-time beer, and no longer the spring seasonal.

In the pack, there are 2 bottles each of:

  • Boston Lager (Chosen by Jim Koch)
  • Irish Red (Chosen by Bob Cannon)
  • Black Lager (Chosen by Grant Wood)
  • Alpine Spring (Chosen by David Grinnell)
  • Mighty Oak Ale (Chosen by Andrew Lamont)
  • Whitewater IPA (Chosen by Dean Gianocostas)

It is a large change in a seasonal pack, where the only overlap is the Boston Lager and Irish Red.  New to the pack is the new spring seasonal, Alpine Spring, which is a light, crisp lemon-like brew.  Also in the pack, which is available in six-packs is the Whitewater IPA, which is a cross between a witbier and an IPA, similar to Boulevard’s Collaboration #2, the White IPA.  Finally, the pack is rounded out by the Mighty Oak Ale, which is a carmel-flavored amber ale with vanilla and oak notes.

Have you tried the Brewers’ Choice Spring Variety Pack? What did you think? Which ones did you like? Which ones didn’t you like?

Boulevard Smokestack Collaboration #2 – White IPA

Boulevard Collaboration #2
Boulevard Collaboration #2

I had a chance to sample the Boulevard Smokestack Collaboration #2 – White IPA, a collaboration with the Deschutes Brewery in Oregon, over the weekend and I found it to be a great beer.  Imagine a Belgian style wit beer with more hop bitterness.

At first sip, it definitely tasted like a witbier, with nice spicy fruitiness.  As the beer hits the back of your tongue, it goes into more of the piney, herbal, stronger American hop flavor.  The hop-forward flavor wasn’t overpowering, and balanced out nicely with the witbier spice and citrus notes.

Overall, I loved how the White IPA started like a wit but then finished with a nice and firm, but not overpowering, hop bitterness. It was a very good beer, and I hope this collaboration sticks around or happens again.  It’s great to see breweries pushing styles out of the way to make a great beer.

Did you try the Collaboration #2?  What did you think?

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22

New Glarus's Riverside Brewery
New Glarus's Riverside Brewery

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22, 2011.  So this week, when you have a beer, enjoy one from one of America’s craft brewers!

It’s been a heck of a year for craft brewing, and thanks for letting me spend some of that time with you.  Be sure to try some of the beer from breweries we’ve visited in the last year:

… and to some we were close to, but couldn’t get enough time to stop by …

Have a great week!  Cheers!

Boulevard 21st Anniversary Ale

Boulevard 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Ale
Boulevard 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Ale

Boulevard Brewing recently celebrated their 21st anniversary, and to celebrate, the brewery created a fresh hop pale ale.  Last week, I had a chance to grab a bottle.

First off, it poured a bit darker than I expected.  It looked more in the range of an IPA color (more of a caramel color) than a pale ale color.  The first sniff gives a bit of citrus on the nose, with a hint of grassy from the fresh hops.

The taste was very similar to a pale ale, with a hop forward flavor, giving way to the malt backbone.  This was different than other fresh hop ales I have had because this beer had more of a peach flavor, with just a hint of citrus flavor.

It was a good beer that makes me want another, just to try and break down the complexity of it.

Have you tried the 21st Anniversary Ale from Boulevard?  What was your take on it?