As I’ve mentioned before, this past weekend was all about beer. Beer Geek and I got to attend two of our favorite beer events: the Lupulin Reunion* and Savor. We attended both last year, but they weren’t back to back, so it was a little easier. This past weekend was a little like running a half marathon one day and a full marathon the next day, but a lot more fun. (If you don’t come here to read about beer, then all I have for you today is that I’ll be running a few miles on the treadmill in the new shoes since it’s raining and I can’t get them dirty until I know I’m keeping them. And that big holiday, National Running Day? Yeah well, didn’t get to run at all yesterday. Sigh. )
Now, on to the beer:
This year the Lupulin Reunulin was held at RFD instead of the Brickskeller. I’ve attended many tastings at the Brickskeller over the years, but this was my first tasting at RFD. I was looking forward to the experience and it did not disappoint.
This year’s brewmaster lineup consisted of Tomme Arthur from Lost Abbey in California, Adam Avery from Avery Brewing Company in Colorado, Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head in Delaware, Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River in Californaia, Bill Madden from Vintage 50 (and soon Mad Fox) in Virginia, and Rob Tod from Allagash Brewing in Maine (guess where I’m visiting AFTER my race in August). With this group, I would have been happy to sit and listen to them banter for a couple of hours. Not only are they all great brewers and knowledgeable about beer, but they are also darned funny. But wait! We didn’t just get to listen to them, we also got to drink their beers, many of which are of limited distribution. Over the course of the evening we got to taste 16! different beers**, learn a bit about how they were made, and hear some amusing anecdotes. I enjoyed all of the beers, although I did pass most of the IPAs to Beer Geek after a taste. Unfortunately, the lighting was such that I didn’t take notes, but there were two beers I was surprised to love – Avery’s Brabant and Dogfish Head’s Pale India Ale (not to be confused with an India Pale Ale). The Brabant was a bit sour at first, but the taste really grew on me. The Pale India Ale was labelled as “hoppy onion” on our tasting sheets, which I found to be a fairly accurate name. It was made with Indian spices donated by Pete from Pete’s Wicked Ale (remember my cat?) and it just cried out to be drunk with a good Indian meal.
But wait! There’s more!! Apparently this event was where all the cool kids came to hang out. In the audience were other brewers and beer bar owners. As an added bonus, Ken Grossman and his son Brian from Sierra Nevada and Greg Koch from Stone Brewing showed up and were invited on stage! For a beer loving gal, this was like a dream come true. (And the more beer they drank, the more entertaining they became.) Thankfully, Julie Johnson Bradford from All About Beer was moderating, so the humor only got out of hand a couple of times. ;o)
Here’s the brewers’ table at the end of the evening with Ken Grossman, Greg Koch, Vinnie Cilurzo, Brian Grossman, Tomme Arthur, Sam Calagione, and Rob Tod (Bill Madden and Adam Avery are just to the right). The table with the beer at the very bottom left of the picture. That’s our table.
Our table (quite late in the evening). Thanks to tablemates Marty and Donna for the pictures.
After a wonderful evening of good food, great beer, and entertaining conversation, Beer Geek and I headed home to rest up for Round 2: Savor.
This was only the second year of Savor, but it was extremely well run for such a new event. It was held at the National Building Museum, which is one of the most beautiful museums in Washington, D.C. We got there a bit early and stood in line for the doors to open. Despite being about a block away from the actual door, we got in quite quickly once the doors opened. Kudos to the event staff for moving us through efficiently.
Upon entering the Great Hall, we picked up a program and our tasting glasses. As per our usual modus operandi, we headed to the far end of the room to scope out the beers. I’d be lying if I told you I remember all the beers I tasted. There were 68 brewers with 2 beers each, all paired with really good food. The only lines I saw the whole evening were for Russian River and The Lost Abbey (oh, and the oyster bar). Since we’d had beers from both those breweries the night before, we skipped those breweries until the very end of the evening after the lines were gone. Like a marathon, this event was all about pacing and I’m happy to say we did indeed make it to the end of the event.
Over the course of the evening, I had some truly amazing beers. Brooklyn Brewery’s Local #2 was great and we will be adding a bottle of that to our cellared collection. Foothills Brewing had a lovely, dark, chocolatey Imperial Stout called Sexual Chocolate that I loved. Deshutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter was so very yummy and paired amazingly well with Maytag Blue Cheese. But I found a new beer love. It’s now definitely in my top 10, maybe in my top 5.*** New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk Oak Aged Ale was so good that I went back FOUR times. It’s the only beer all night that I drank more than once.
All in all, the beer was amazing and the food was great. Towards the end of the evening, we got the munchies and I polished off a ton of chipotle cinnamon chocolates, as well as my weight in Wisconsin cheese. We WILL be attending this again next year.
*Lupulin Reunulin: lupulin is part of what gives hoppy beers their bitterness.
**Beers we tasted:
Lost Abbey/Port Brewing: Hot Rocks Stein Lager, 3rd Anniversary Pale Strong Ale, Carneale Bretted Saison
Avery Brewing: Brabant Barrel Aged 100% Brett, The Maharaja Imperial IPA, Mephistopheles Stout
Dogfish Head: Palo Santo Marron, Festina Peche, Pale India Ale
Russian River: Blind Pig IPA, Consecration
Vintage 50: Wee Heavy 2002, Headknocker, another beer I can’t remember
Allagash Brewing: Confluence, Hugh Malone (or Huge Mellons as their original permit said)
***My favorite beers (not necessarily in order): Alaskan Smoked Porter, Anchor Porter, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, Dominion Baltic Porter, Kasteel Donker, New Holland Dragon’s Milk. (I like a lot of other beers, including many lighter in color and flavor than the above, but if one of these is in the fridge, that’s what I’ll be drinking first.)