Sunday, May 14, 2017

14th Annual Smokehouse Brewing Mini Real Ale Fest 2017

One of my favorite craft beer events in Columbus is Smokehouse Brewing's annual Mini Real Ale Fest, held at the brewpub in Grandview. There are always interesting beers at the event that you will never see elsewhere, along with the opportunity to speak with some of the best local brewmasters. While you're there, you can sample the Smokehouse food. Their smoked wings in particular impress me.

This year, the lineup of breweries and beers available for sample included:

  • Actual Brewing Double peppercorn and Ginger Eccentricity Saison: Brewmaster Chris was there to gauge reactions to his beer. Brewed with Sorachi Ace hops, it was really a delicious take on the Saison style. The Sorachi Ace hops added a nice citrus note. The peppercorns gave it some earthiness and spice, and the ginger gave it some zing. I'd definitely buy it if they put it on store shelves. 
  • Barley's Bourbon Barrel Aged Ulysses: The Ulysses red ale is one of brwemaster Angelo Signorino's best (though my favorites are his Infinity Grand Cru and Point of Origin Belgian style ales). Aged in a Kentucky oak barrel, the beer acquired some nice complexity and oaky notes.
  • Columbus Brewing Brioso Coffee Cream Ale:  This classic cream ale was infused with coffee and cacao nibs. Unfortunately I didn't get to taste it, but reactions I overheard were positive.
  • Common House Ales Pineapple Hoptopus; This hoppy pale wheat ale was infused with pineapple. As someone who's generally not a fan of hoppy or sour styles, I was actually impressed with how well the hops and pineapple balanced each other. The 70 IBUs of bitterness were offset well with the tangy pineapple flavor.
  • Four String Brewing Maple Syrup Motorbreath:  This maple syrup barrel aged Imperial Stout was one of my favorite beers in the lineup. The maple and barrel notes offset the bitterness of the Imperial Stout well, making the beer a bit sweet rather than bitter and harsh the way some Imperial Stouts can be. This is another I would buy if it were available around town.
  • Kindred Brewing Red: This imperial red ale was generously dosed with hops. I only tasted a sip of it. It was, as they said in the program for the event, "tolerable".
  • Land Grant Lychee Batch 300 IIPA: This lychee fruit infused Imperial IPA surprised me. The sweetness of the fruit offset the hoppiness of the beer well, resulting in a very drinkable IPA for someone who's not generally a fan of the style. This is another I would try again.
  • North High Brewing Bourbon Java Milk Stout: This milk stout was infused with coffee beans and peanut butter. While it was an enjoyable beer, the coffee flavor dominated to the point that I couldn't pick out any Bourbon or peanut butter notes. 
  • Seventh Son Hot Pepper Jam Strong Ale: This strong ale was infused with peaches and habanero peppers. I expected it to be a very spicy hot flavor, but it wasn't really. There was definitely a hot pepper taste and warmth, but no more so than a typical chicken wing. 
  • Sideswipe Brewing Fisticuffs IPA: This version of Sideswipe's popular IPA was dry-hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Centennial hops. I didn't try it, but the person I was with is an IPA fan and really liked it.
  • Smokehouse Dreamsicle Leroy Neiman Painting: This Berliner Weisse with orange was quite different from the other offerings at the fest. The sour lemony Berliner Weisse flavor was complimented by the orange. It was a well-executed sour.
  • Weasel Boy Brewing Anastasia a la Mexico: This Russian Imperial Stout infused with cayenne pepper was one of the brews I didn't get to taste this year, so I can't comment on it except to say that it ran out before some of the others did.
  • Wolf's Ridge Tripel Whiskey: This Belgian Tripel was generously dosed with orange peel and chamomile, then aged for a year in a Watershed Bourbon Barrel. I love sweeter Tripels and Bourbon Barrel Aged beers, and this one hit a home run with me. I spent several of my tickets on samples of this one. Without question, if this was available on store shelves I would keep a six pack in my fridge at all times. A simply excellent brew.

While at the event, I had the opportunity to talk with other craft beer fans, as well as a couple of the brewmasters. Angelo Signorino of Barley's reminded me that next week is the entry deadline for their annual homebrew competition. I'm hoping to get two of my recent brews entered, and to attend the event on June 4.

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