Suwanee Beer Fest 2012

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As if The Color Run wasn’t enough for a day, there follows a less exercising opportunity called the Suwanee Beer Fest, it’s second (or is it first?) “annual” appearance.  Suggested by a co-worker without a “hard sell,” the appeal of reportedly 100 Craft Breweries and over 200 beers drew my attention, especially when looking at the breweries participating.   The cost?  $35 for a four hour tasting window.  Held at Suwanee’s Town Center Park, an immaculately maintained lawn area fronting City Hall and other storefronts, it’s the perfect place to stand on a concrete path, waiting to get in.

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In fairness, the line did move quickly, the number of tickets were limited, and the feel of the festival was not one that is overcrowded.   Kudos to a City for a nice theme (below), great facility, obviously public support, and... where were the Police?  They were hardly visible, likely resting to “observe” those leaving at the festival’s end.

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This was my first beer festival of any sort, and, as usual, reality sometimes differs from expectations.  For example, I wouldn’t have expected a flock of attendees at the Pabst Blue Ribbon tent.  But, there they were.

I also expected one tent per brewery, perhaps even with someone knowledgeable about their brands.  In some cases, that was true.  In others, fairly significant brands, like Lost Abbey, Rogue, and Oskar Blues, were jointly presented in confusion fashion under single tents.  Local breweries, like Sweetwater, Terrapin, Red Brick Brewing, Jailhouse Brewing, O’Dempsey  and those below, made a good show of it.

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Attendees are given a 3 oz. “glass” made of plastic.  Given the occasional drops by patrons, the less weighty approach makes sense.  With so many options to choose from, 2 oz. would have been just fine.

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I expected music, and there was a very suitable stage and sitting area for that purpose.  I did not expect to hear good music, so that expectation was met.  I did expect to hear sonically capable music, which I did not.  The sound of drums and muddled bass became the soundtrack to the festival.  Oh well.

I sampled... it’s hard to remember, but not because I drank so many.  I’m just bad with names.  Lost Abbey’s Devotion.  I think.  Bell’s Oberon, which had a lengthy line compared with others.  I’m just not a summer beer person.  It disappointed.  Highland Brewing’s Gaelic Ale.  Very nice.  Red Hare’s Long Day Lager, a local brewer with potential, and one of only two breweries selling T-shirts.    I also had Adnams’ Broadside, pictured below, a fortunate happenstance of empty cup, no line, and appealing graphics.

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Also on the “I better take a picture or I’ll forget it” list, is the below, from Mississippi’s sole brewery.   Their Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale sounded interesting (made with whole roasted pecans) but may give evidence to why there is only one brewery in the State.  Still, I like the Southern pride and will try others in time.

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Also came across 5% alcohol Twisted Tea.  I don’t know that I would choose to drink this, but it did cleanse the palette suitably.

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I think there were a couple of others.  As I consider the $35 and divide by 3 oz. servings, I hope so.  It is definitely a great opportunity to sample beers.

And I’m not good at “reviewing” beers. Those better at it tend to discern things that are either lost to me or of which I fail to pay attention.  Such as, “It pours with a vigorous bead; honey-colored, cloudy and golden.  The head is snowy and a nitro-like tuft remained on my glass until the last swallow.  The nose had a tart, cellary yeast smell that was pure Belgian.  I got hints of citrus, mineral, and a candy undertone (perhaps from high mashing temperatures that produce high unfermentables?).” 

That’s a lot of work.  I just go by taste and generally know which styles I like.  I’d probably like the one just described.

But, I do like beer cold, preferably while sitting, and with something to accompany it.  Like a burger. Or wings.  Or nachos and salsa.  And thereby take some time with it.  Should I pass through another beer festival, I’ll have to plan accordingly:

#1:  Wear a hat.  The sun burns.  This is one step beyond bringing a hat.  I did that.  And I left it in the car because it was overcast.

#2:  Figure out how to bring in some food.  Not heaps of it – it’s not an “avoid getting inebriated” issue.  It’s just a savory break between one beer and the next.  The nibbles and bits from cooking related vendors (Big Green Egg, Kroger) just aren’t enough.

#3:  Take specific notes of those brands that fail to appear.  21st Amendment Brewing, for example.  You get your hopes up... and no show.  There were others as well.

#4:  Arrive early.  Why were the entry lines so long?  Because everyone first had to find a parking spot, and I didn’t beat them to it.

And lastly, a T-shirt that cracked me up.

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3 comments :

  1. 21st Amendment was there. There were actually 4 choices on draft. Sorry you didn't find it.

    With the mass amount of breweries present from around the country, it's difficult to get all the reps to attend.

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  3. I would expect you to be wearing that t-shirt when I eventually make it to Atlanta.

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