Some people spend their last warm Saturdays of the year going for a walk, working in the garden or around the house, grilling out or maybe even going to a college football game. This past Saturday, I got in the car, drove 3 hours to Waterbury, CT with my brother and attended one of the best beerfest events on the east coast: Brass City Brew Fest.
In its 5th year, this event is organized by Terry Boyd, who as far as I'm concerned is the man when it comes to beer in Connecticut or even the entire northeast. He owns a small little beer and liquor shop that easily has the best beer selection I've ever seen in any store which is damn impressive considering it's stocked in an area smaller than my bedroom.
Anyway, I had the pleasure of attending this event 2 years ago when I lived in CT and had an amazing time so I figured I'd make the trip from PA this year. Although this year was not as great of an event as two years ago, I'd say it was worth the trip. Just check out this list of beer:
Virtually every quality brewery from the extended northeast and beyond was represented at this festival, which cost a measly 30 bucks. For an additional 10 bucks, you got entry to the Belgian tent and you've got to be nuts not to cough up 10 bucks for that. One of the best beers I had all day was from that tent: Lindeman's Faro, a wild-fermented wheat beer. This was a perfect balance of the sourness of a gueuze lambic with the sweetness of a fruit lambic...great stuff!
Many of the beers there were ones I've already tried so I mostly avoided them. Other stand out beers I had included both a dark and wheat beer from a Lithuanian brewery called Svyturus, a Polish Grand Imperial Porter, Captain Lawrence Double IPA and Hitachino Ancient Nipponia.
Now on to my complaints about this year's festival and the reason why it was not as good as two years ago...they ran out of beer! The festival started at 1:00 (with a VIP session starting at 12:00) and by 3:30, many tables were packing up when the festival lasted until 5:00. Saranac particularly was out of everything except their Imperial Brown when we passed their table around 2:00! As more and more tables ran out, the lines to the available beers were too long to wait in. As this festival grows out of its infancy, the crowds will just continue to get larger every year. We talked with Terry Boyd toward the end of the festival and he explained that all of the distributors here were volunteers and they donated beer for the festival, which I understand, but donate more!
My suggestion to Terry? Hike up the ticket prices and cut down the capacity in half. I believe they allowed 2,000 tickets to be sold this year. Make the tickets $45 and sell out at 1,000 people and everyone will have a better time I'm sure. Also, don't let guys bring in mugs the size of my head - enforce the standard 3-4 oz pour. You can always get a refill, people!
That said, this festival still beats out many others in terms of price and beer selection. If I were to go back, I'd definitely have to take advantage of the hour early VIP entrance. I might just have to save up money instead and go to the Great American Beer Festival next year though!