Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fredericksburg Area Brewing and Tasting Society

I attended a meeting of The Fredericksburg Area Brewing and Tasting Society for the first time yesterday. FABTS meets once a month, alternating meetings at Bangkok Boulevard and Kybecca. FABTS was founded in 1996, but I've only recently found out about the group. I am glad I did though. It was quite an enjoyable afternoon. The theme for this meeting was Imperial Porters and Stouts. There is quite a range of flavor in those two styles. The meeting was led by Lyle who took us through each beer, frequently adding information about history, ingredients, and pointing out things we should be looking for. By my count we tasted 26 different beers. I'm not going to list them all here, but simply mention a few of my favorites.

The first two beers we tried were not porters or stouts, but seasonal treats. The first was Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I was quite surprised by this one. I've had a number of pumpkin beers this fall, and I'm just not a big fan of the style. This "big" Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale was very drinkable. It had the flavor of real pumpkin, not pumpkin pie spice alone.

The second, Avery "The Kaiser" is an Imperial Oktoberfest. A strong malt and bread aroma greats the nose. This beer takes the Märzen / Oktoberfest style up a notch. I'll watch for this one in the future.

Avery Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter was a selection that drew a line in the group; those who like smoked beers, and those who don't. (I do.) The aroma wasn't super smoky, but the smoke came out in the flavor. I would have liked to have some good smoked cheese to go with this one. I could find anything on Avery's website about this beer but it's one to seek out.

One of the "odd" beers of the day was Haandbryggeriet Dark Force. This is a wheat stout. I believe it was described as an "Extreme Double Imperial Wheat Stout", later referred to as the "adjective beer." I didn't care for this one that much. There was too much going on. It was an beer with an identity crises.

One of my favorites of the afternoon was Southern Tier Oat, an Imperial Oat Stout. When I tasted this I longed to be sitting in front of a fire with a good book on a cool evening. This is a very easy drinking stout with a hefty chocolate and coffee flavor. The 11% ABV makes this one a sipper.

Avery Brewing made another appearance with Mephistopheles' Stout. This 15% ABV monster is jet black, thick and syrupy. This is another beer to enjoy over a long relaxing evening.

The afternoon was extremely enjoyable and educational. I had to leave the meeting a little early to attend a fund raising auction for my son's school, but not before all the beers were sampled. :-) I'm looking forward to next month's FABTS meeting on December 8 at Kybecca. The theme for that day will be "Holiday Beers".

BTW, both Bangkok Boulevard and Kybecca are prime beer-stops in the area. Bangkok Boulevard has a beer menu of 150+ beers, more than half of them Belgian. Kybecca is a fine wine, beer, and cheese store with 2 locations in Fredericksburg. They stock an impressive array of craft beer. Fredericksburg area beer lovers should make a point of patronizing both these establishments.

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