|Tewkesbury Abbey, an 11th century masterpiece. Lady Roberts and myself enjoyed
a couple of good pints and some crisps from a pub situated just behind this shot.
|Columbus Winter Beer Fest 2013
Right, kids - You cannot believe how desperate we were for this festival to take place. We were in the throes of a hideous winter, which gave us freezing
temperatures day after day with regular heavy snowfalls appearing every few days - not to mention waking up every morning to a dreary, grey sky which
lasted for months. This was our reward for such a mild winter last year.
So, when the tickets went on sale for the Columbus Winter Beer Fest, we went running for them. As usual, we picked up VIP tickets - I mean it was bad
enough dealing with winter, let alone mixing with the cheapo ticket peasants!
It should be noted, I needed to buy some shares in an Ibuprofen company, such was the regularity I was taking them throughout the night following the Beer
Fest! I wholeheartedly throw the blame for these headaches on the Russian Imperial Stouts I was tasting with alarming regularity.
I should also add, it was a total sellout with almost 8,000 people in attendance. None of the breweries bothered accepting the tasting tickets, so for many it
was a case of drinking as much beer as you could inside 4 1/2 hours.
You know the drill....let us begin...
1) Barley's Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Sexual Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout - on cask - (9.5%).
Brewed with cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla beans, let's begin by saying that I HATE Russian Imperial Stouts, so clearly I was on a very strange and
uncharted journey for this beer fest. Not too dissimilar from Weasel Boy's magnificent Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout, the Sexual Chocolate was as smooth
as silk with flavours of vanilla and chocolate in the forefront. With a chocolate/caramel finish (think of liquid Rolo's), this was a stellar start to the festival.
Cask ale too - excellent stuff! 10/10.
2) Weasel Boy Brewing Co, Zanesville, Ohio.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout (10%).
For me, this is still the finest beer on the planet. To confirm just how good this is, the NON-bourbon barrel aged Anastasia won the Gold Medal at the 2012
Great American Beer Festival - the bourbon barrel version is even better. Being aged in Woodford Reserve whiskey barrels presents a whole new set of
flavours. Thus, the Anastasia was incredibly smooth, deceptively creamy with subtle whiskey notes. The roasty, bitter, flavours of the stout blended perfectly
with the alcoholic sweetness of the bourbon. It was a perfect match, like tea & biscuits or Laurel & Hardy or Prince Charles & Greatness or Brentford &
Relegation. As usual, this deserves the mega-score of 15/10.
3) Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, California.
Narwahl Russian Imperial Stout (10.2%).
Three Russian Imperial stouts in a row...am I going completely off my trolley? This was more like the Russian Imperial Stout I've come to hate: extremely bitter,
heavily roasted, with menthol and lemon rinds in the mix. Somewhere, there was a hop presence, but it was lost in all the charcoal bitterness. I wrote the word
"warming" in my notes...so it must have been "warming". 1/10.
4) Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, California.
Brandy Barrel Aged Ovila Quad Abbey Ale (10.1%).
The line for this was a mile long and what made it particularly annoying was the fact that the team behind Sierra Nevada were not willing to tap the Ovila until
the Narwahl barrel was empty. All well and good until we realised everyone in line had already tasted the Narwahl and we were all patiently waiting for the
Ovila. With tempers starting to fray, the Sierra Nevada blokes nervously decided to tap the Ovila.
Well folks, it was worth the bloody wait. With rich flavours of sweet brandy, sweet malt, cherry cough drops, plums, raisins and spices, this was simply an
outrageous beer. The finish was of syrupy Lyon's Treacle, crowning off this beautiful, mellow beer. DELICIOUS and a world beater!!! 14/10.
5) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Nightstick Black IPA (7.2%).
I'm not a fan of black IPAs, but I'm always ready to support this excellent brewery. However, I realised why I'm not a fan of Black IPAs as the Nightstick was
essentially a porter with some hops thrown in for good measure. Very roasty, burnt and bitter - pretty much a complete mess. 2/10.
6) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Cousin Eddie Imperial IPA (11.8%).
Right then, it was time to explore some safer territory and head into IPA-land; Imperial IPA-land to be precise. Just in time too, as I emptied the barrel with my
glass, must to the consternation of the bloke behind me! Needless to say, Cousin Eddie was a grapefruit explosion with tons of citrusy flavours and just a hint
of spice. With a finish of piney hops and more grapefruit, this was a monster thing of beauty. 10/10.
7) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio / Fat Head's Brewing Co, North Olmsted, Ohio.
Brewno Black Barley Wine (9% abv).
A collaboration from two of my favourite Ohio breweries, Brewno seemed to be the Belle of the ball with everyone raving about it. So, it should come as no
surprise that Brewno didn't work at all for me.
Smooth and silky in body, Brewno was dark, bittersweet with lashings of chocolate and coffee, before a surprising hoppy finish, supported by more bittersweet
chocolate with a few prunes thrown in for good measure. A very complex, confused beer. 3/10.
8) Finch's Beer Co, Chicago, Illinois.
Fascist Pig American Strong Ale (8%).
A new kid on the block in Ohio, Finch's came to town with a strong portfolio of beers under their belt. Here's the commercial blurb for the Fascist Pig American
Strong Ale: "A deep red malt-forward ale brewed with plenty of caramel malts and a touch of rye, brewed and dry-hopped with Palisade and Zythos hops".
Well, it all sounded interesting, but sadly the Fascist Pig was a pile of shite...pig shite, if you will. This was another confused beer with flavours of dried
sultanas, dates, lots of caramel and malt with a trace of citrusy grapefruit trying to grab some attention (and failing). Absolutely hideous and very messed up
in all departments. 1/10.
9) Finch's Beer Co, Chicago, Illinois.
Threadless IPA (6%).
You could argue that this was the first "normal" beer of the night, but in this case, "normal" equated to "boring". The caramel malts were a bit too up front for
my tastes, otherwise you had the grassy hops alternating between grapefruit and oranges flavours with a bitter grapefruit finish. A reasonably solid IPA, yet
something was missing. There are tons of excellent IPAs out there, this doesn't happen to be one of them.
10) Two Brothers Brewing Co, Warrenville, Illinois.
Northwind Russian Imperial Stout (8.5%).
I'm a huge fan of Two Brothers beers, but I have absolutely no idea how this beer ended up in my hand. So, let's conclude by saying that I HATE Russian
Imperial Stouts. Having said that, this black as coal stout was rich and deep with dark roasted malts, burnt expresso, with a mild degree of burnt malts.
Mid-flavours gave a dash of toasted toffee and malt sweetened chocolate, backed by a solid hop presence. The finish was of coal. After all that, it wasn't my
cup of tea at all, but I'm giving it 10/10 regardless, purely because Two Brothers have previously never let me down with any of their beers.
And that, kids, was it for the 2013 Columbus Winter Beer Fest. An excellent way to start the beer year and with the Columbus AleFest hot on the heels of the
Winter Beer Fest, our taste buds were suitably lubricated! Cheers!
|Winter sky for most of the world...
|...winter sky in Cowlumbus.
|Jive talking? No, mate - Jive TURKEY!
|Miller Shite - found at all good beer festivals!
|Oh yes, things are starting to heat up at the Winter Beer Fest...