Monday, October 21, 2013

Fredericksburg Brew Fest

The first Fredericksburg Brew Fest took place this past Saturday at the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. I picked up a couple friends early and we arrived to claim our place near the start of the line before the gates opened. Once in, we picked up our shaker pint festival glass and list of breweries. Even though the pours were officially set at two ounces, it was nice to be drinking from a proper size glass. For those who wanted more than a sample of a particular brew, tickets were available for purchasing full pours too.

Sixteen breweries were offering some 40 different beers. The admission price included 24 beer samples. In addition to the breweries, a distillery and a local winery were in attendance, as well as assorted food vendors. The first tent we stopped at was that of The Traveler Beer Company from Vermont. They were pouring their seasonal Jacko Traveler Shandy. I don't drink too many pumpkin beers, typically l I find them to be either too sweet, or too rich in pumpkin pie spices and lacking in actual pumpkin. This was not the case with the Jacko. The beer is brewed with real pumpkin and it shows in the flavor. The accompanying spices are present but subtle. Despite my pre-tasting doubts, I enjoyed the Jacko Traveler beer quite a bit. In fact, it was the only beer at the festival that I went back for seconds on. Apparently others enjoyed it as well, when I passed by the booth later in the afternoon, I noticed they were out of the beer.

Throughout the afternoon we wondered the festival enjoying the beer and conversation. Sofie and Matilda Lambicus from Goose Island, Sierra Nevada Flipside Red IPA, Widmer Marionberry Hibiscus Gose, and Highland Thunderstruck Coffee Porter were among some of the new-to-me beers I enjoyed. Of course, I would partake in many old favorites as well.

Crowds, but no waiting.

The Bowman Distillery was also pouring samples of two of their small batch whiskeys, though these samples would cost you two of your beer tickets. Master Distiller, Brian Prewitt was on hand to talk about the samples being poured. I tried both beverages of the offerings. One of these was a 7 year old bourbon that spent some time in oak barrels in which Richmond's Hardywood Brewery had aged one of their beers. The brewery - distillery collaboration produced a remarkably smooth and flavorful whiskey. Something tells me I'm going to have to finally make the time to take that distillery tour.

The festival drew a large crowd, and by late afternoon there were constant crowds at the booths, but the lines moved quickly and very little time was spent waiting for your next sample. A brief rain shower did nothing to dampen spirits or keep folks away. This first-time event for Fredericksburg was well-organized and made for a very enjoyable afternoon. I am looking forward to it becoming an annual event.

2 comments:

  1. Just to let you know I'm not a complete sourpuss:

    I really enjoy your posts about the local craft brewery scene in the Fredericksburg area. I was hoping to go to this event but real life intervened. So your summary of how it went is very interesting. It sounds like the beerfest was a success. I hope I can make it next year.

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  2. Glad, you enjoy the local beer scene. F'burg has come a long way in recent years.

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