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Extreme Beer Fest: Night of the Barrels

So I am back from a long weekend in Boston to which I attended the Extreme Beer Fest with a number of friends.  I haven’t been on a trip like this since probably 2010 when I went to Colorado for Great American Beer Festival, so suffice to say I was quite excited.  The trip was planned way in advance.  It probably was decided right when Funky Buddha Brewery announced they had received an invitation to the event.  We decided we absolutely had to make the voyage and support our friends and try some new beers while we were at it.

So last Thursday we headed up to New England to begin the trip and I will talk about more of the details with reviews of specific places we went at a later time.  I wanted to talk now about day one of the festival and that is Night of the Barrels.  This was a night specifically for breweries to showcase their barrel aging skills with beers.

The event took places in the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts on both nights.  As we waited outside in the cold we attempted greatly to keep blood flow going through our feet while continually hearing locals tell us about how it was not as cold as normal for the time of year.  Regardless of where you are from sub 30 degrees is cold and last I checked words of encouragement don’t have true body warming qualities.

Once inside the small venue we had our plan of attack and started hitting the numerous breweries.  All the breweries were around the outside of the walls while the middle had tables and chairs all over.  Right away we noticed the line at Funky Buddha as the longest.  Their Morning Wood (Wide Awake it’s Morning aged in a whiskey barrel) was seemingly the must have straight of the bat for many.  And within 45 minutes it was gone, the first of the night.  We did luckily have it and I must say that the barrel comes through wonderfully.  It doesn’t overpower things but instead leaves some nice subtle sweetness and oak notes.

My top beers of the night are as follows.

  • Cambridge – Honey Badger
  • Funky BuddhaMorning Wood
  • AllagashGhoulship
  • Dark HorseKing of the Forest
  • LagunitasBourbon Barrel Imperial Stout with Brett and Raspberries

In the chaos and small quarters it may be easy to lose your inhibitions and get yourself in trouble early at a fest like this.  A key we found was staying in a group.  If a brewery had multiple beers we would each get one when we got to the table and then share between us.  That way we all got to try them without having to have a whole sample.

Also eat and drink water.  There was free food there all night so we continually grabbed mini grilled cheeses and pretzels to nibble on.  And the water stations aren’t just for rinsing your glasses.  After rinsing pour yourself a cup to drink.  It keeps you hydrated through things.

I was pretty happy that we hit up everything we wanted to try in about 2 hours.  It was that time we decided to beat the crowds and head off.  There was a small pizza joint across that street that had our names on it.

Now just a couple things that I didn’t really like.  The venue was small.  It was fine for the Night of the Barrels as there were less breweries and less people.  But as I will mention tomorrow, Saturday’s session was much more cramped.

Next was the sampling cups.  I’ve been to numerous beer fests and in many different states and this is the first time I have ever gotten a little disposable plastic cup.  We paid a good amount of money for these events and sure they were great but you would think a nicer cup would be given for the amount spent.  Preferably one you could take home as a memento of the occasion.  I mean I paid less money for the GABF Members Only session and I got an actual glass sampling cup.  I know it’s a little thing but someone said that those usually go a long way.

But all in all it was a great event.  We enjoyed the beers we had and the company we had along with us.  It is definitely an event I think every beer geek should do at least once.

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