Of all the days to finally get some rain (and by get some rain I mean buckets) it had to be last Saturday. The Fall Harvest Brewfest was going to taking place in Fort Collins that night. The drive up to Fort Collins cut through the heart of the torrential downpour. The blah gray sky sucked the color out of everything. Clouds were so low could almost reach up to the touch them.
Luckily, by the time I got into Fort Collins, the storm had subsided to more of just a rainy day feel. Jumping over puddles on my way to the Lincoln Center, I wondered how this weather would affect the turnout. Couldn’t be good, but then again it is a beer festival (with over a 100 beers and spirits sample) and for a great cause. In fac, it seemed as if the weather didn’t deter the beer loving crowd. It was just a slightly damp one.
The large turnout had a wide demographic starting from the legal drinking age all they way up to golden years. There were plenty of flannels (that’d be me), brewery work shirts and hats, tattoos, and bushy beards. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves quite a bit. Beer and hard liquor tend to do that especially with the live rockabilly tunes of Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene getting people of all ages to get their boogie on. (Pastine reminds me of a swing version of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.)
The layout at Lincoln Center spread out the traffic so that there wasn’t too much congestion. There was always a gathering at every table but you didn’t have to fight through a herd of people. The first floor consisted of two large rooms that were the main attractions and a terrace at one end. On the second floor you had two other smaller areas. The continuing rain kept the majority of the crowd from going outside to take a break and get some fresh air. That is, unless they wanted to hit up the food trucks (I’ll get to that later).
I would be shocked (shocked I tells ya) if anyone came away from the Fall Harvest Brewfest without falling in love with a beer or finding a new brewery to champion. There were so many styles that no matter what mood you were in, there was something to wet your lips. Several of the breweries had special beers that they would be breaking out later in the evening.
Verboten Brewing had a unique PB&J inspired ale that brought back memories snacking on wild berry PowerBars at swim meets (I don’t think they make those anymore). Rally King’s “H.I.P.” was a nice imperial pilsner where the high ABV didn’t hinder the clean pilsner taste. Achtung, Intersect Brewing’s Dusseldorf altbier (I recently reviewed a gose of theirs), had a hoppier profile than I was expecting for the style. Odell had their recently released small batch Fall Harvest Brew, which had a nice amber color and some chocolate notes. Accomplice Beer Company had a wet hop IPA that had a beautiful nose to it.
If I had to pick a favorite, and since I can be very indecisive (just ask my exes), I call it a tie between New Belgium’s Sour Saison and Loveland Aleworks’ Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. New Belgium always does an admirable job on their wild ales, and this saison is funky and earthy. The stout, which was perfect for the stormy night, was rich with dark chocolate and bourbon without being too boozy.
Did you know that the Not Your Father’s line-up had a version of Mountain Dew…excuse me, Mountain Ale? It tasted more like alcoholic Surge. At Oskar Blues’ table, they had their Moskow Mule from their SOB division. It was a little too sweet for my liking and didn’t have enough of that ginger bite.
While I tend to agree with Ron Swanson’s views on spirits, I do on occasion like to enjoy some gin. If it’s a nice one I’ll drink it straight. I found some on this night. Vapor Distillery, out of Boulder, has a gin aged in American Oak barrels. Old Elk Distillery had their Dry Town Gin, which was pleasant on the rocks but would be refreshing with some tonic. Vapor also had their small batch Boulder Bourbon. It’s smooth with a touch of heat and spice. They’ll be having a release party for it on October 22nd. Feisty Spirits’ 100% Rye would make a good introductory rye as it’s light on the spice. Their Red White & Blue Bourbon, made with red, white, and blue corn with rye and malted barley, was an interesting try.
You can’t spend several hours of drinking tastes of beer and fine spirits without munching on something. I snacked on some of MouCo’s cheese with cracker samples but needed something more nourishing. That would mean I would have to go outside for the food trucks and brave the weather. I made a dash to the first food truck. There was a group gathered around the wood fired pizzas and zero coverage from the rain. The next two weren’t as populated so I made quick read of their menus and made my decision. I don’t think I could have made a bad choice either way, but the chicken and waffles from The Waffle Lab was so damn tasty. The fried chicken was juicy and crispy and the waffles were crisp and buttery. On top of that it came with a sausage gravy and maple syrup. A heavenly sweet and savory concoction.
If I had one complaint I would have liked to have seen some dogs. Maybe a small petting room? Or train some dogs to handle the taps? Oh, how about some St. Bernard rescue dogs with those barrels of liquid courage hanging around their necks? Yeah, probably not good ideas, but dogs are awesome. The Fall Harvest Brewfest is awesome. And Animal House Rescue is awesome.