Lauren Murphy | Asst. Photo EditorPulp
Feelin’ brew: With more than 50 breweries available, Syracuse Beer Festival pours up eclectic samples
For college students whose typical beer selection ranges from Keystone to Pabst Blue Ribbon, this weekend’s Beer Festival was a chance to live the dream for an afternoon.
The first-ever Syracuse Beer Festival was held Saturday afternoon at Alliance Bank Stadium. Event-goers were treated to a beautiful day as well as more than 100 beers from 50 breweries, representing a wide variety of styles and brewing traditions. There were several local favorites present, such as Middle Ages, Saranac, Empire Brewing Co. and Cortland Beer Co.
That’s in addition to some breweries from further away like Great Lakes (Ohio), Great Divide (Colo.), Anchor Steam (Calif.) and Harpoon (Mass.). The breweries lined up along the infield and lower deck of the stadium and the crowd filled in the spaces. Everyone received a small tasting glass, the perfect size to sample while waiting in line for the next beer. Live music from Tribal Revival, Driftwood and local group Los Blancos provided the soundtrack for budding beer aficionados. As was expected, there were a fair number of adults getting a little rowdy.
The Salt City Brew Club had a table at the festival with some examples of the equipment used in home brewing. It meets on the second Tuesday of every month to promote the appreciation of unique beers. Each meeting starts with a lecture on a technique or equipment related to brewing, a highlight of a specific style of beer that concludes with a tasting of a mix of commercially and home-brewed examples of that style.
Chris Sack, the president of the organization, described a Dragon Porter that he was currently brewing. This style of porter comes from a Jamaican tradition and uses lager yeast instead of ale yeast for the fermentation.
On the other hand, Dogfish Head created a recipe based on ancient Egyptian traditions to create the wheat ale, Ta Henket. The brewers traveled toCairoto collect the rare saccharomyces yeast strain that is endemic toEgypt. In addition to the yeast, the palette contains chamomile and sweet fruit accents. There is only the slightest hint of bitterness to this beer, making it drinkable and refreshing. The ale is 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. This limited release can be purchased in 750-mililiter bottles at Wegmans for under $10. Dogfish Head also brought another limited-release beer called Namaste: a Belgian-style white wheat beer.
Middle Ages Brewing Co. is a local brewery inspired by the medieval brewing traditions of England. It doesn’t use any computers in its brewing process, and imports all its malts and hops fromSuffolk,England. Wailing Wench is a strongly flavored American-style ale bursting at the seams with hops. The bottle pictures a saucy bar wench, but the body of this brew is fit for work in the fields — it’s strong. It was a dark ale, but still bitter. At 8 percent ABV, it’s nothing to sneeze at and probably isn’t the best choice to drink all night. I recommend picking up a 22-ounce bottle from Wegmans. Better yet, take a trip down to the brewery to start your night off with a bold, flavorful beer that will get the job done and done right.
Middle Ages also sampled its ImPaled Ale, a quality India Pale Ale with a complex and rich palette.
Like the Wailing Wench, the main flavor is the characteristic bitterness of IPAs. ImPaled Ale stood out as one of the better IPAs. At 6.5 percent ABV, this brew is not as boozy as some other IPAs, but still comes highly recommended. Take a trip down to the tasting room at the brewery and give its family of beers a try. Grab a growler for the road while you’re down there.
The real highlight of the festival, though, was Yeti from the Great Divide Brewing Co., a brewery based in Denver. This imperial stout is so powerful it could probably steal your purse on the subway. If this beer had a daughter, you would be afraid to ask her out. It contains all of the classic elements of a stout. Yeti has a rich, dark color with a simple but overwhelming flavor palette.
The taste is highlighted by caramel and toffee that has a delectable roasted quality to it. Imperial stouts are traditionally the strongest member of a family of beers and, at 9.5 percent ABV, Yeti is no exception.
I strongly recommend this brew and it is available at Wegmans in 750-mililiter bottles for under $10. The price is a little steep, but Yeti is worth it. Great Divide has capitalized on the success of Yeti with several limited-release variations, such as Oak Aged Yeti and Belgian Style Yeti.
Contact Dylan: firstname.lastname@example.org
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