Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What's the Buzz? Albany Craft Beer Festival 2017

A: The buzz is me and hundreds of other beer nerds on a recent Saturday afternoon at the Washington Avenue Armory attending the 2017 Albany Craft Beer Festival.
Once you're in you're in
So much beer, so little time. The Festival was only running from 100 to 400 pm on April 22, so CBM and I showed up on time ready to explore. And drink. She knows everything about beer, a real superhero in her own right, with almost 600 beers tasted on Untappd. I love my beer buddies, more with every beer, but I digress.
Not overcrowded, a casual hairy crowd of beer lovers
I wish we had planned ahead - I didn't know where to start - a few breweries we recognized but many we did not. A few ciders, lots of IPAs and double IPAs and bourbon aged beers, as well as sours, gose, scotch ales, and other delights, though not too many stouts. Many of the offerings are unavailable. Period. Except if you go to the festival or line up at the beverage store when there's a new release. And since there seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the arrangement of the space it was hard to find anything anyway. Drinking beer didn't help.
DD's get to drink excellent coffee from Stacks
And the offerings were not only heady, profound, unusual and intoxicating, they were a made for mindful consumption because, in addition, they were mostly highly alcoholic. We started with the Gogo's Shiso from Nine Pin, a light, dry cider developed in collaboration with City Beer Hall, laced with Asian mandarin, fresh shiso, and Matcha Tea from Short and Stout. That was lunch.
Gogo Shiso translates into "delicious"
The names were a hoot. Of course, being on the dating shit list for too long now, I had to try the C.H. Evans Handsome GuyPA (7.4% alkeehall).  It was handsome, hoppy, and shiny like some frog I may have to kiss to get my prince. 
Someday my prince will come
Finback (Ridgewood, NY) had Between the Sheets Dead Stout (9.5%) - it was a revelation, like tasting something amazing for the very first time, aged in bourbon barrels, it made my eyes open up and my brain say howdy, like the walking dead anyway, and I'm usually busy taking those guys out so it was interesting to feel for a moment what they feel like for a change, but again, I digress. This was a beautiful American double/imperial stout. 
The music was loud so I didn't feel like the walking dead for long
Gun Hill (Bronx, NY) was in on the barrel-aged thing as well, and their Void of Light (8.1%) was a stout for the stout at heart - cocoa, coconut, marshmallows, thick, and a subtle smokiness that always makes me happy. 

My favorite: the Schmaltz Brewing Company's Jewbelation '13, aged four years, 17 hops, 17 malts, and 17% alcohol. That little 3-oz glass suddenly made me feel all silly inside. Time to quit.
Friendly, knowledgeable brewers abound
Wait one more. Red Ale from Artisinal Brew Works (Saratoga Springs, NY). Always wonderful.
Proud of their work!
OK yeah yeah it was a $65 ticket to get in, but worth every nickel and then some. It kept the crowd serious, and kept the cheap zombies and even cheaper vampires away. It was, bar none (pun intended) the BEST beer event I've ever attended.
CBM and her little beer glass
And Zena, Goddess of Fire, was in need of quenching.

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