Tuesday, March 5, 2013

11th Annual Boulder Strong Ale Fest hosted by Avery Brewing.

This years Strong Ale Fest proved to be just as exceptional as years gone by. Avery Brewing crew out did themselves with 105 beers from 50 different breweries from Colorado and the West/East coast.

The Fest is a two day affair, Friday 5 -10 pm and Saturday noon -5 pm. The tickets are $45 with a commemorative glass and 15 taster tickets. It takes a rare bird to be able to use all their tickets without feeling a lot buzzed. Avery Brewing has two catering companies across the alley from them, Savory Cuisines and Front Range Catering that had food on hand in the back tent. This was the first time Avery set part of the fest in one huge tent in the back of the brewery. The rest of the beers were being poured in the taproom and barrel-aging room. My only problem with Avery Brewing is that there is one woman's bathroom (stall) inside the taproom, so off to the porta-potties that were located in the front and back of the brewery.
Outside tent

Barrel-aging Room
I used half on my tickets as I was trying to be good and not get a DUI while driving home. I wasn't as difficult as it may seem. I took my time drinking each beer while talking to some friends and new acquaintances.

Tommy Thacher from Telluride Brewing
and Terry Cekola of Elite Brands

Tasting new beers can be delightful discovery which was found at the Strong Ale Fest. I did taste a horrible beer. Yes, I really mean horrible that I dumped the whole taster of the Mountain Sun Raspberry Beret. The description sounded yummy, a honey raspberry super Saison ale, oh but it was rank. I think it was oxidized or infected which gave a cardboard aftertaste to the beer

The rest of the beers were wonderful but a few stood out for me.

Larry, Mitch, Holly(Avery employee), Max, and Dan.
Crooked Stave Brewing from Denver had a small batch of Sentience, a Belgian style wild quad aged in Leopolds' whisky barrels. It was a big beer at 11.5% ABV and had a tartness that was wonderful.

Cambridge Brewing from Massachusetts, brought Bad Knees, a barrel-aged English Mild Ale that hints of caramel, vanilla, and coconuts. It was 10.5%ABV and very delicious.

Another stand out was Pizza Port Brewing from California. They brought stuff I had never tasted before, yeah! My favorite was the barrel-aged Nightrider, an Imperial Stout aged for 9 months in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. So rich and smooth without the overwhelming bourbon flavor that is in some barrel-aged beers. It is a whopping 12%ABV.
Pizza Port's Nightrider
A friend of mine, Max, loved their Bacon & Eggs. It is a breakfast Imperial Porter that was brewed with 25 pounds of Bird Rock Coffee Roaster's Ethiopian and Sumatra blends. Max loved the rich coffee flavor with a hint of smoke.

The last stand out for me was a Frambozen from Wynkoop Brewing in Denver. It was a lovely sour raspberry strong ale that was 2 years old. At 12% ABV, it could knock you on your ass while thinking it was so smooth and light, most Frambozen's aren't usually this high in alcohol.

The 11th Strong Ale Fest is a brain child of Avery Brewing and has been a successful beer festival that the tickets sell out very fast. What's even more admirable is that all proceeds goes to charity. This years profits went to Blue Sky Bridge, a non-profit organization providing support services to victims of child abuse and neglect in Boulder County.

Adam Avery and Larry Smith
Steve Breezley and Vic Kralj (owner  of the Bistro)
Chris Asher and Tom Bliss

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