Monday, September 17, 2012

Second Annual PEI Beer Fest

I make a point of calling this the second annual beer fest here, because it is. The first one was last year. This can be confusing, since the Murphy / PEI Brewing Company group are convinced that they're throwing the first one ever in less than two weeks. Maybe the new Beach Chair delivery vehicle is a DeLorean. I dunno. Anyway, if you've heard about both, and you're confused, don't feel bad. A few folks thought the first one this month wouldn't happen and did their darnedest to make sure it didn't... but it did.

How did it all go down? What were my thoughts? Well, last year, I left a few thoughts on how it could be improved this year. I had also talked with some of the organizers since, and was very pleased to see that nearly everything that was identified as an area for improvement last year was, indeed, improved. What could still be worked on is the amount / variety of beer (see the first paragraph for some ideas there), but that's about it. Everything else was much better this year - a better venue, souvenir tasting mugs, buckets to dump poor brews or rinse water out, water you could hydrate with... it goes on. I did hear a couple of people grumble about price (OK, I think it was three). It was a little pricier than last year, but it was an improved event, so maybe that's OK.

What about the beer and such? What was good? How'd it go? Well, my personal thoughts are:

  • very pleased to see À l'abri de la Tempête there, and that they brought four tasty varieties along. They were, in the Aleanders' opinion, the overall best brewery of the festival. I had recently tried seven of their varieties at home, and was glad to get to try more. I love their use of local ingredients and the distinct character their beers have. 
  • glad to see Quidi Vidi in attendance. Their 1892 had a little something that was pretty good in it, and the Iceberg beer comes in great-lookin' bottles. They don't wow, but I was glad to see NL represented.
  • I was glad to try the St. Ambroise IPA that I can never find here (a little hoppier - gladly - than I expected... I was expecting an all-English IPA). Their mustards were also delicious, and at the beginning of the night, were in the running for "best in show". I also convinced a certain Guinness fan to try their Oatmeal Stout, and they weren't disappointed.
  • It was nice to taste some brews that I hadn't in a while, like Affligem's Blonde. 
  • The two brews made by Nash at Halifax's Rockbottom were great. His Fathom IPA was chosen by the Aleanders as the best overall beer of the festival. Too bad I heard they ran out before the end of Friday's session.

I have a few good ideas for next year's fest, but I think I'll just communicate them to the organizers themselves. My main hopes for next year:
  • if there are going to be two beer fests on PEI, for frig's sake, don't put them in the same month
  • I hope the Murphy folks decide to join in the fun a little more, rather than trying to just take it over
Picking the best beers is a hard task, but... The Aleanders can handle it.