My recent brewing spree, as outlined in a series of posts, culminated in last Saturday’s tasting. Thanks to friend of the brewer Dick, I had access to a nifty, homemade beer serving station as seen the photo above. Three taps mounted into a chalk board stand provide for easy labeling. The extra large trash can held ice and three kegs, plus a 5 pound bottle of carbon dioxide. Lastly a small drip tray on top. It all worked pretty well, though my Kolsch style ale was a bit of a problem child – a little over carbonated and foamy. But we muddled through.
There were somewhere near 300 people in attendance. A number or breweries were represented: Southern Tier, Helltown, East End Brewing, Full Pint, Rivertowne, Penn Brewery and many others. In addition to the Little Boy Brewery, there two other home brewers in attendance. The guests were wonderful and very enthusiastic, but not all were completely aware of my status as a home brewer. A number asked me where I made my beer (“my garage”) and a few wanted to know where they could buy it (“you can’t”). But all were very enthusiastic.
I was overwhelmed with the response to the beers that I made. As I has noted before, my Saison recipe has always proven to be very popular. I did double the amount of coriander from 15 grams to 30 grams, which when you add it to the wort looks like quite a slug. In the past I have been surprised by how often people fail to note the coriander in a beer when I can smell it a mile away. That is what expectations can do for you. For this beer it seemed pretty strong but it did not to seem to put many people off. Several tasters showed up with their glass in hand and said they were told they should come try my saison. One lady came up to the booth and inquired about what beer she should try and so I pulled just a sip of the saison for her to try. Her eyes lit up as she tasted it and, with a big smile, requested a full pour. That reaction made my night.
I thought the wild card in my beer lineup would be the Russian Imperial Stout. When planning for this I knew I wanted something that would stand up and stand out against all of the IPAs and other strong beers from the other participants. I was happy enough with how this beer turned out, though it was a bit strong on the roast and light on the chocolate, at according to what I envisioned. It did not seem to bother anyone on Saturday night. In the end, this beer and the Saison ran neck and neck in popularity. And although this is a bit of a sexist observation, there were no shortage of the female sex coming up to try this beer. This was a pretty intense beer, and I was surprised by the wide love it found.
The afterthought beer was the Kolsch. I brewed it partially as a backup beer but in the end I brought it along. Most of the people were not aware of the heritage of the style, so it gave me a chance to do some education. There were a few that were well aware of the style, though, and I am pleased to report they gave it a thumbs up. Many other, more timid drinkers chose it as a safe alternative to other, stronger beers. Unfortunately I spent the night fighting the carbonation level – it was foamy. But we soldiered through.
It was a great night for craft beer. it was a great night for home brewing. A couple of people told me they thought the home brews were better than the commercial ones. While that might have been a bit of hyperbole, I was very happy I participated and really thrilled at the response.