Welcome to 2015! And while my esteemed colleague has been putting together some really cool articles the past few weeks, I’ve be a little absent. Welp, that all ends this week. And what better way to get back into the swing of things than, without question, one of the most interesting and anticipated Festivals I’ve seen in a dozen years. The Big Bold Beer Fest, or #3BF as it is being lauded, can only be described as a lineup loaded with high end variety, from the rare to the ultra rare beers, to vertical tastings, to just the plain ‘Holy Grails’ of the craft beer industry. This Saturday’s event will be one to approach with guster and with caution, because as the name suggests, these are going to be heavy beers with no remorse.
The event is broken down into 3 phases if you will. The ‘VIP Session Tapping’ goes off first with 13 of the most sought after beers around the country. After that, there are 10+ ‘Replacements’ that will take over once those are kicked. Finally you have 9+ in ‘The Alternatives’ section that are of lighter fare, cause frankly, you’ll need it. So what are we looking forward too? Here are the beers we will not be passing up that are on the tasting menu.
Alewerks Lover’s Greed, Chocolate Stout, Old Mum
The defending champion of ‘The Commonwealth’s Best Beer’ is at the top of the list. Craft beer enthusiasts love Lover’s Greed and is widely considered the best American Wild Ale for states around. They will follow it up with a tasting of their Chocolate Stout and Old Mum spiced ale, showing off an amazing range of styles throughout the day.
Hardywood Rum Barrel GBS, Raspberry Stout, Pils
The GABF Gold Medal Winner Raspberry Stout highlights the 2nd session, while the Pils was one of the best Pilsners we’ve had and reviewed last year. They will also be breaking out their famous GBS aged in Rum Barrels. A great twist on a perfect beer.
Lickinghole Creek La Calavera Catrina, Twelfth Night, Short Pump Saison
Every festival I go to, these guys never disappoint. Tequila and Lime highlight the La Calavera Catrina and seasonal spices bombard their Quad in Twelfth Night. SPS is always refreshing and will be a late day addition.
Heritage Barrel Aged Kings Mountain & The Teddy
I absolutely love Wee Heavies, so Barrel Aging one for the VIP session is right up my alley. They were a delightful surprise the last time they were in Williamsburg, and I look forward to seeing them again.
St. George Imperial Stout (2009)
The Hampton boys have brought a very interesting beer to start off the day in a 2009 version of their Imperial Stout. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect, but if it is on the VIP menu, it’s there for a good reason.
Founder’s CBS, Curmudgeon, & All Day IPA, Grand Rapids, MI
It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room (or tent). This is a once in a decade tasting. To put a blunt point on it, the CBS is their KBS Coffee/Chocolate/Barrel Imperial Stout with the addition of Maple Syrup. It’s the first run since 2011, and who knows when the next one will be. 21% of this batch stays in Michigan, with very little making its way to the east coast. Go here first thing. Just do it.
Stone Red Wine Barrel Aged Cali-Belgique & Lucky Bastard, Escondido, CA
Our soon-to-be-newest addition to the Commonwealth will have 2 offerings throughout the day. The Red Wine Barrel Aged Cali-Belgique is a Belgian IPA that was kept in Cali Red Wine Barrels and Lucky Bastard is an oaked Arrogant Bastard. Welcome to VA!
Perennial Abraxas, Woodside, Saison de Lis, St. Louis, MO
It’s a brewery you don’t see much out here, but is highly sought after in the middle of the country. Abraxas is a Double/Imperial Stout, Woodside is an Abbey Tripel brewed with local honey, and Saison de Lis is a farmhouse ale with chamomile flower. Three very different beers.