Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Foam Fest 2012: Beer Drinking Report

After Mass last night, we left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and raced off to attend Foam Fest 2012 at the Colorado State Fair.  This was the second year in a row that we've gone to this beer festival, and it will likely earn a permanent spot on the calendar.  While Pueblo only has one Microbrewery that comes to mind, the Festival brings in brewers from around the State.  For thirty dollars (plus the $10 gate admission), you can sample around 60 different beers from about 25 different brewers.  And while they do provide free hot dogs and chips inside the beer garden, a better bet is to head  out to the main fairgrounds and indulge from a very large variety of food (Funnel Cakes and Nachos anyone?).
During the last 12 months since I last attended the festival, my knowledge and appreciation for beer has grown.  This is due in large part to my own experiences brewing beer with Mr. Beer, (it may be the easy-bake oven of home brewing, but it's still a lot of fun) and my acquired taste for Hops laden beers.  I now know more about the brewing process, the different ingredients, etc. At any rate, I came to the festival with the intention of sampling the beers in a more sophisticated manner.  That lasted at least twenty minutes.  Here are some thoughts from this year's festival including a list of my favorites.
Don't drop your cup!
The "dropped cup" correlation-  Don't drop your commemorative plastic cup at Foam Fest! Whenever a cup hits the ground, the whole place erupts in a collective groan (I'm pleased to say that I have not dropped my cup at this event).  There is an interesting correlation between the number of dropped cups and the lateness of the hour.  In the beginning, you might hear a cup drop every 20-30 minutes.  Near the end of the night, it happens in  one to two minute intervals.
You will grossly underestimate how much you've had to drink- Just because the "pours" you get are small (about 3-4 oz), doesn't mean you aren't drinking a lot of beer.  Consider that you might sample 3 to 4 beers during a 10 to 15 minute period (and that's if you are taking your time).  At that point you've had anywhere from 9 to 16 oz. of beer.  Over the course of an hour, you've now had 36 to 64 oz. (3 to 5 beers).  Foam Fest lasts four hours, so I think you get the point.  Plus,  you are not drinking Bud Light.  Most of the beers at the festival are at least 5% ABV.
Fair Food will help with the above- Nachos, Indian Tacos, Gyros, Deep Fried Twinkies, Giant Turkey Legs, Funnel Cakes, Deep Fried Snickers Bars, etc. will absorb some of the effects of all that beer drinking, just don't get sick!
Zora Pale- My personal favorite
The Best Beers of the Night- I had one "hands down" favorite last night, and several that I enjoyed a great deal.  The Best sample last night was the Zora Rosemary Oatmeal Pale from Strange Brewing Company.  The beer had an almost rich buttery taste and while you could taste the Rosemary, it didn't overpower the rest of the beer.  This beer was a little more full bodied than a typical pale ale, and it had an incredibly smooth finish.   They also had a Cherry Kriek Beer that won gold in 2011, and while I'm not a fan of the "fruit beer," this one was enjoyable, Melisa's favorite of the night.  More tart than sweet. 
The Oskar Blues Brewery won a Gold Medal last night for their Deviant Dale's IPA (8% ABV, 85 IBU's).  What can I say, I like those bitter, hoppy beers, not something I would have said a year ago! They also had the best selection of bumper stickers and were even giving away beer "cozies."  (We discovered that these cozies wound up in receiving larger pours, as they obstructed the view of the person pouring the beer).
At the Del Norte Brewing Company they had a Mexican theme going.  Craft beers in the Mexican style are remarkably rare, which is surprising given the long history of quality beer coming from that country.  Their Manana Lager was a Mexican Amber of excellent quality, and I'll give them extra credit for brewing something unique from many of the other breweries that were present.
Honorable mentions go to Amica's Green Chile Ale, the beers from Pateros Creek Brewing, and the Vanilla Cream Ale from San Luis Valley Brewing Company.
Mmm . . . Not so much- I generally find the beer at Shamrock to be quite enjoyable, and I did like the White IPA that they poured last night.  Not quite as enjoyable was their Pilsner which was a little bit of a let down.  I had tried to order it last week while having dinner, but they had stopped serving it at that point.  I was excited that I was getting a chance to try it again, but    there seemed to be just a slight skunky aroma that I didn't agree with.  For me, the standard on Pilsner beer is set by O'Dells Double Pilsner, and Left Hand's Polestar Pilsner.  However, the Shamrock Brewery produces many great beers.  Their seasonal 3rd Street Stout (made with coffee from Solar Roast down the block) is a fine, fine beer.
Elk Mountain Brewery in Parker won a medal for one of their beers last night, but I doubt it was their Kolsch.  This beer had a very disagreeable taste.  It was in fact, the only beer that I "dumped" last night.  I won't condemn all of their beers however (they did win something last night after all).
This morning, as I write this, I'm nursing a bit of a hangover, which is something I haven't experienced in quite some time.  For the most part, I'm ready for bed after a couple of beers.  I guess it's just part of the territory when it comes to Foam Fest.  And who knows, maybe by the time dinner rolls around, I'll be ready for a fresh brew.  Cheers!

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