Bogrolls & Barley Wines
Columbus AleFest 2009

This was a knackering weekend.  Friday night I was with longtime fellow royal, Lord Goulet of Cape Cod up in Cleveland, watching the most excellent neo
quasi-psychedelic band in the business: seminal Aussie rockers, The Church.  Then, Saturday morning we’re heading down to Columbus just in time for me
to pick up Lord Ackery of Brentford in the royal limo as we headed off to the 4th Columbus AleFest.

Whew, I’m cream-crackered just thinking about it all!


Anyway, this was the fourth Columbus AleFest, the first for Lord Ackery.  I wondered what we’d get this year following the disappointing changes to the 2008
AleFest.  At least it wasn’t raining and a text from Lord McGinnis of Beaconsfield confirmed that he’d be joining us at some point during the Fest.

Once again, no sponsorship from Bell’s Brewery and no major presence from Dogfish Head either.  And instead of the “tasting” glass featuring a full-colour
design, this year’s model was a white design – interesting how the glasses have changed in just four years.

But, it’s all about the beer. Let us begin….

1) Great Lakes Glockenspiel (8%)
Described by Great Lakes brewing as
“A complex, plum-colored Weizenbock with spicy notes of clove and banana”, my taste buds must have been somewhat
on the numb side as I couldn’t pick out any cloves or banana.  I found Glockenspiel to be sweet, syrupy and malty.  Methinks this is a wolf in    sheep’s

2) Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier (5.5%)
The name alone sounded revolting, but this is the beauty of AleFests – you go out and try beers you wouldn’t ordinarily look at.  And, I must confess, I won’t
be looking any further at the Blackberry Wit.  A light tasting blackberry flavoured lager.  As revolting as the name suggests.

3) Sam Adams Imperial White (10.3%)
Clearly a glutton for punishment, I went back for the Imperial White. Now, this was on the right track: A mighty rich concoction; syrupy with lots of coriander
and thick lemon rinds in the taste. Big, powerful and tasty.

4) Goose Island Nightstalker Stout - served on draught – (11.7%)
Last year Goose Island created a stir with their incredible Bourbon County Stout and Matilda Ale.  Now they were back with Matilda and the Nightstalker
Stout.  I was in the mood for a stout, but not this monstrosity.  It was a creamy, rich stout with dominant flavours of coffee and intense roasted barley. To make
matters worse, there was a concentrated undercurrent of nasty hop-bitterness with a finish of liquid charcoal. In other words, I didn’t like this at all.

5) Otter Creek “Otter Mon” Jamaican Stout (ABV unknown)
There had to be a good stout here somewhere (where’s the wonderful Lion Stout when you need it?!), thus I turned to Otter Creek to provide the answer.
Their “Otter Mon” Jamaican Stout is brewed with black, caramel, and chocolate malts with raw cane sugar.  Designed to produce a flavour reminiscent of
sweet rum, I found it to be smoky and burnt in taste with the usual roasted barley notes.  With all those malts used, it explained the flavours, but once again,
this should have been renamed Liquid Plumber.  Ghastly!

6) Sierra Nevada Kellerweis (4.8%)
Only three weeks on the market, I needed something to take away the hideous taste of roasted barley.  Kellerweis did the trick admirably.  This is Sierra
Nevada’s first venture into wheat ales and things are looking good.  It had the classic cloudy look with distinct flavours of bananas and cloves.  It was a little
on the light side, but a worthy contender nevertheless.

7) Allagash Grand Cru (7.2%)
Portland, Maine’s Allagash brewery is responsible for quite possibly the finest White Ale in the history of the world (Allagash White), but their Grand Cru was a
disappointing mess.  What we had here was a rich, spicy malty beer with an undercurrent of cinnamon and caramel.  The caramel made a nuisance of itself in
the finish alongside a hideous dosing of cod liver oil in the final swallows.  Dodgy to be sure.

8) Charles Wells Banana Bread Beer (5.2%)
I’ve seen this in the stores and have always wondered about it (I won’t get into the politics of the Wells/Young’s merger).  The Banana Bread beer opened
with an intriguing aroma of bananas which was actually quite pleasant -  not your average beer aroma.  Taste-wise, it was a mild beer with subtle banana
flavours complimented with a healthy dose of cloves and spices.  It was exactly what it set out to be.  Oh, and special credit to Wells for using
Fair Trade
bananas - well done lads.

9) Goose Island Pere Jacques (9%)
Back to the Goose Island table for their Pere Jacques, a Chicago take on a Belgian Abbey Ale.  Caramel wasn’t working for me today and this offering had
lots of caramel and malty flavours throughout.  Mid-tastes gave a brown-sugary sweetness followed by a buttery caramel-vanilla finish.  In other words, a load
of shite!  

10) Hoppin’ Frog Silk Porter – served on draught - (6.2%)
Hoppin’ Frog Brewery hail from Akron, Ohio and I had a rather nice chat with their owners at the AleFest . I picked up a lot of passion and desire from them to
maintain the beer flavours of a bygone age – hence we have the Silk Porter.  I should have mentioned to them that I am generally not a porter bloke, but how
could I turn it down?  Sadly, I should have turned it down, as the Silk Porter was a hideous example of everything I hate about porters: a powerful
burnt/roasted malty flavour, combined with a notable hop presence and a menacing undertow of molasses and vanilla.  A nauseating finish of sweet coffee
rounded off a ghastly brew.  I’m not sure where the “silk” comes into it – perhaps it was to explain a certain wateriness about the beer.

11) Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (7%)
With a bucketload of awards behind its name, the Racer 5 was a welcome gem amongst all the hideousness.  Brewed with both Columbus and the wonderful
Cascade hops, this was an IPA to shout from the steeples and spires about.  It began with a lovely citrusy aroma before leading into a hoppy cauldron of
grapefruit and north-western pine.  With a mildly bitter finish, this, pop-pickers, was an absolute gem.

12) Stoudt’s Double IPA (10.6%)
In for a penny, in for a pound – that’s what me Mum always used to say; so Stoudt’s Double IPA seemed a logical move after the Racer 5 IPA.  Well, “rich”
would be an understatement as this golden, smooth beauty packed a grapefruit punch worthy of ‘Enry Cooper.  It gave a lovely hoppy, clean finish with more
grapefruit to round off the taste.  Not as cloying as many of its ilk.

13) Green Flash Imperial IPA (9%)
I always say I’m going to avoid IPAs at AleFests because it’s so hard to find one that is remotely bad.  But tasting three IPAs in a row was certainly pushing the
boat out. Green Flash Brewery, from Vista, California, was a new name for me.  They also offered a Double Stout and a Hop Head Red, but it was the Imperial
IPA that took my attention.  Another of many bad choices today as the Imperial IPA was quite frankly, bizarre.  It was a thick, gooey substance tasting of
rotting grapefruit and as bitter as shite.  The bitterness intensified with some caramel flavours bopping around like a ball inside a pinball machine, before
closing with a finish of liquid coal combined with garlic gravy.  Absolutely ghastly in every sense of the word.

14) Magic Hat, Lucky Kat IPA (5.8%)
No, no, no, not another bloody IPA!!!  Honestly Squire, I need to know that Green Flash Imperial IPA is not the future of this noble style.  Magic Hat is a quirky
little brewery from Vermont and usually their beers are hit or miss.  Thankfully, their Lucky Kat IPA was a hit (overall).  It reminded me of Greene King IPA,
from the mother country, although 2.8% stronger.  What we had here was a pleasant, grassy, mild IPA with a little bit of fruitiness thrown in.  Not in the same
league as New Holland’s Mad Hatter IPA or Stone IPA, but nonetheless more palatable than what Green Flash were dishing up.

15) Magic Hat Odd Notion Belgian Blonde – served on draught – (5%)
Starting with a lovely floral aroma, the Odd Notion was refreshing distraction from my beer choices so far.  There was nothing too precocious about this beer;
simply a pleasant, light, mildly hoppy presentation, with strong lemony flavours.  Admirable in its simplicity.

16) Duvel (8.5%)
Following the royal tradition of tasting Duvel at every Columbus AleFest, this little gem was luxuriance in motion.  This Belgian classic featuring Bohemian
hops brought a new meaning to the word “carbonation”.  With this champagne effervescence came freshing, sweet, lemon and citrus flavours which danced
around the tongue, with a clear taste of alcohol at the finish.  Now, THIS is the “King of Beers”!  

17) Piraat (10.5%)
If it’s Saturday, it must be Belgium (or something like that), and Piraat was another world-beater.  Brewed by Van Steenberge, the initial aroma was of golden
nectarines.  There was tight carbonation on the palate with an orange syrup sensation, which lingered long into the beer.  This jewel was smooth and bready
with a sweet peppery finish which tingled the tongue.  Absolutely glorious!

18) Gulden Draak (10.5%)
Another offering from Van Steenberge to finish off the tastings, and my, what a horror!  With a lightly carbonated taste reminiscent of gooey treacle, this
heavily malted nightmare gave a nauseating mid-taste of beef Oxo gravy before spiraling down to a stale cherry finish.  Would be perfect as blacktop
sealant.  Ghastly!

And on that note, the 4th Columbus AleFest came to a dubious finish.  I’m not too sure where the Columbus AleFest will go from here – certainly, it follows a
similar pattern each year, although it has never been able to eclipse the 2nd AleFest which had learnt from the mistakes of the inaugural one and for that one
year had all the pieces of the puzzle in the right place.  Still, at least this year the band wasn’t too loud!
The Church, Cleveland, Ohio - night before the Columbus AleFest.
Lords McGinnis, Ackery and Roberts, at your service!
A complete TWAT!
The bloke at the Chimay table.
The owners of Hoppin' Frog Brewing Co.
The band in action - sadly, I can't remember their name!
Lord McGinnis, some bloke, Lord Seger and Lord Roberts finishing off the beer when everyone's gone.
Lords Ackery and Roberts making off with the last of the beer.