My review of @kellyspackage’s Craft Beer Fest – Dalton MA 8/24/13

This was my first time attending a craft beer festival in the Berkshires and it did not disappoint. Well thought out and planned, there were a lot of little things that made the day both relaxed and fun while providing an unusually diverse selection of beer. A few details about the event itself are worth noting as they relate to other tastings and festivals I’ve attended. Most importantly, I really enjoyed the beer and found several that were new to me and a few that surprised me.

The clear intent of the day was to provide patrons with a memorable tasting experience. They started things off right at the ticket booths by handing out a single printed page listing each brewer’s location, the beer they’d be pouring and a pen to make notes with. Inside the gates things were just as helpful. The tents were spacious despite the respectable crowd of people moving about. Buckets of free bottled water and cup rinsing stations were plentiful and maintained throughout the day. I thought the crowd was fairly large, mellow and after a few conversations with fellow tasters, definitely enjoying the beer. I noticed, as I strategically made my way to a dozen or so specific tables, that others were doing the same thing. More interesting however, was that each table was fairly busy, meaning there was no crowding around any particular favorite. There were in fact, a few domestic mega brewers present as well as a selection of beer-like fruit and tea concoctions. Although not to my taste and a bit controversial at this time due to the craft vs crafty debate, I was glad to see them there as not everyone is required to be a hop fiend like myself. Of course I wish you all were, so that the likes of Stone Brewing Company could displace and supplant InBev, but i digress. The one thing that did surprise me was how long the cask of Hoponius Union by Jack’s Abby lasted. It was downright delicious!  I gladly tried it a few times and never waited more than a minute or two at the table.

Now for the important stuff, the tasting of beer. In general I was surprised by what I favorited and also by some brews I know I like that really tasted off. As I already noted, the Hoponius Union was fantastic. This batch was very similar to how I remember my first sample years ago. Unfortunately, there have been a half-dozen or so off bottles in between now and then, so I’m really glad they nailed this one. My second favorite was from Shipyard. Smashed Pumpkin is a really tasty seasonal. I tend to avoid pumpkin beers and most fruit and vegetable brews in general. For some reason this drew me in and I’m very glad it did. It tastes like pumpkin pie in a bottle! Absolutely delicious and worked very well at washing away the taste of one IPA sample as I hunted down the next. Another beer that I really enjoyed was a Vanilla Java Porter by Breckenridge. The flavors really paired nicely with the style, but this could use just a little lactose to sweeten it up. The last beer of note was brewed by Westfield River. Pop’s Old Fashioned Lager it was called and the name really says it all. It has a very pronounced old school taste to it while at the same time showing quality beyond what was around prior to the craft beer revolution.

Per usual and as it should be, you just can’t love them all. There seemed to be a fair number of brewers offering very weak and wilted IPAs. Although I understand the target market exists, I wish there was some other name they could use to avoid hophead disappointment. Sadly in addition to this, a few beers I know I like were for some reason off-tasting. It was really only one or two brewers and I suspect the sun was somehow involved, but it was apparent and I do wonder how or if they didn’t notice.

If you didn’t make it to this event, why not? A very relaxed and fun environment, diverse and satisfying beer selection, helpful staff, and motivated friendly brewers! Maybe I’ll see you there next year?

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About mrhopsbeertalk
Avid homebrewer and craft beer taster. I love all the hops I can get. #hops #ipa #iipa #ipl #porter #dipa #specialtyale #saison #craftbeer western mass · mrhopsbeertalk.wordpress.com

One Response to My review of @kellyspackage’s Craft Beer Fest – Dalton MA 8/24/13

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