|Columbus Summer Beer Festival 2012
The news wasn't good - the 2012 Columbus Summer Beer fest had sold out. This meant hundreds of college students would converge upon the new
location of the festival at the Lifetime Pavilion, which was part inside, part outside for the Summer Beer Fest. Even though we at The Manor had VIP tickets,
I wasn't going to take a chance on arriving at the festival and then standing in a line of fellow VIP ticket holders a mile long.
No-sir-ree, I got there 90 minutes early to avoid the plebs and still ended up standing in a line a mile long. The other problem with the Columbus
Summer/Winter Beer fests is the total lack of discipline. None of the brewery vendors take tickets or are half hearted about it at best. Consequently, it's
reduced to as much beer as you can drink in four or five hours, resulting in everyone walking around tanked out of their minds.
Still, the Roberts Manor contingent played their part - after all, we were there to taste and compare different styles of beers, because WE have style! And
so, children, this is where we begin...
1) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Bodhi DIPA (8.5%)
One thing we've learnt from these Summer/Winter beer fests is that you find a brewery and if their beers look good, you stay there and taste a good
selection of what's on offer. This way, you avoid getting stuck in crowds while on walkabout and you get (in theory) a variety of tastes at the same time.
Columbus Brewing Co always brings the most interesting beers to these festivals, so we gladly held camp at their "tent".
So, to begin with, an exquisite double IPA, with a bright, smooth body, coupled with a dominant hoppy flavour alongside juicy grapefruit and citrus flavours.
The citrusy flavours continued into a tropical mango and a not-too-bitter finish. Totally refreshing in every way. Absolutely sensational. 15/10
2) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Big Frank Belgian IPA (9.25%)
Oh, here we go, another stunner from the Columbus Brewing Co. With an aroma of a Whole Foods Market fruit stand, the flavours featured more tropical
and citrus fruits, in the shape of apricots and peaches with a touch of melon lurking towards the end. Like the Bodhi, hoppy flavours held everything
together like a herbal version of super glue, with a mild bitter finish. Another stunner! 14/10
3) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Pale Ale - wet hopped with Ohio grown Cascade hops - (5.4%-ish)
Bring on them hops! Their Pale Ale has always been remarkable, but add some local wet hops and you've got something pretty noteworthy. With a nice
biscuity malt underbelly, this was definitely in East meets West Coast territory. More citrusy fruit counterbalanced the malt with shimmering fresh hop
flavours completing the picture. This was getting rather silly and quite possibly the first time we've ever ranked three beers in a row over 10/10. 14/10
4) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Barrel Aged Uncle Rusty (10%)
These beers were not for the faint hearted and at a 10% abv, Uncle Rusty (barrel aged version) was taking no prisoners. The first word I wrote in my
tasting notes was "BLIMEY...". Amidst elegantly warm and smooth bourbon flavours, we had lashings of sweet malt, which, blended together with the
bourbon gave us that perfect aged Barley Wine. Finishing with McVitie's Digestive biscuits combined with oaky bourbon, this was - dare I say - our fourth
head turner in a row. 14/10 Super, super R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the Columbus Brewing Co.
5) Lagerheads Brewing Co, Medina, Ohio.
Half-Moon Hefeweizen (5.3%)
The name of this brewing company worries me for a start, but anyway...this was the first of the indoor beers as it was so packed outside by now, that I
thought the inside must be relatively quiet. Wrong again. The inside was packed too. So, the Half-Moon Hefeweizen, being an unfiltered wheat beer,
offered the expected flavours of bananas and cloves with a very rich mouthfeel, almost to the point of being syrupy. Blood red oranges made themselves
apparent towards the finish, which featured more orangy flavours with bananas and a touch of tin (a bit odd, that). A somewhat unusual beer, but still
refreshing, nevertheless. 7/10
6) Rogue Brewing Co, Newport, Oregon.
Yellow Snow IPA (6.2%)
We at The Manor have a bad history with Rogue. They are one of the most respected brewing companies on the planet, but I rarely find a beer of theirs
that I actually like. There were one or two that were passable that I tried at a Columbus AleFest a while back, but really, with so much choice available in the
beer world, I don't have time for Rogue.
Thus, Yellow Snow IPA - Here's some commercial blurb: "(featuring) Beeston Stout, Chariot Pils, Melanoidin & Cara Foam Malts, Amarillo Hops". End of
commercial blurb. My blurb: Aromas of stewed rhubarb, with distasteful flavours of rotting plants from Kew Gardens, branches, lots of Sage, resinous hops,
stinging nettles with a finish of Rosemary that the cat had just peed on. Absolutely hideous. 0/10 I think I'll give Rogue beers a wide berth for a while.
7) Columbus Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Rhapsody Pilsner (8%)
Yes, I know - a bit of a cop out returning to the Columbus Brewing Co, but they have more than proved themselves to my Royal self today. Soooo, with their
Rhapsody Pilsner (their take on a Czech pilsner) we had crisp flavours of spicy hops up front, herbs (a touch of Coriander), citrus, sweet malt, with a
peppery fruity finish. Thirst quenching and piquant. 10/10
8) Victory Brewing Co, Downington, Pennsylvania.
Whirlwind Witbier (5%)
We at The Manor of huge fans of Victory. We've visited their brewery in Downington twice up to now (with 23 of their own beers on tap) and really, you can
never go wrong with their beers. With unmistakable Belgian yeast leading the flavour charge, the Whirlwind also gave us spicy lemon flavours, Royal Scot
biscuits with notes of Draper's White loaf (from Bredon, Worcestershire) concluding with a refreshing, spicy finish, balanced with a touch of orange. Very
tasty indeed. 9/10
9) Victory Brewing Co, Downington, Pennsylvania.
Braumeister Pils (5.5%)
Round two of Victory gave us Braumeister Pils, a single hop Keller Pilsner with Sladek hops. This delicious unfiltered pilsner brought forth flavours of
biscuity malt and McVitie's Hobnobs, counterbalanced with grassy hops, lemons, a dash of grapefruit, with a buttery corn finish. As usual, Victory were right
on the money for this mouthwatering and refreshing beer. 9/10
10) Victory Brewing Co, Downington, Pennsylvania.
Headwaters Pale Ale (5.2%)
In case you were wondering, Victory beers are made with pure water drawn from the east branch of Brandywine Creek. And with German malts and US
hops, the classic Headwaters Pale Ale measured a caramel malt underbelly against distinctive piney hops, light fruit and brambleberry jam. Flavours of Ritz
crackers controlled a well balanced finish with light fruity hops lurking around the corner. 9/10
11) Frankenmuth Brewing Co, Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Oktoberfest (abv unknown)
At this stage, my concentration levels were diminishing at a rapid rate of knots and while I was sitting there trying to gather my vague thoughts, someone
handed me a glass of Frankenmuth's Oktoberfest. Now, I don't care for Oktoberfest beers, me, and a few sips of this Oktoberfest reminded me why. It was
extremely watery with minimal malty flavours of corn bread with Corn Flakes and malt in the finish. Weak, virtually tasteless and a total waste of time. 1/10
12) Barley's Brewing Co, Columbus, Ohio.
Centennial IPA - barrel aged - (abv unknown)
You have to end a beer festival on a good note and after that ghastly Oktoberfest, it was time to visit our old mates at Barley's. The Centennial is their
flagship IPA and a barrel aged version is just a bonus. So, we had big floral hops that assaulted your palate with a resiny grittiness, followed by a balancing
act of sweet malt and warming notes of bourbon, with a herbally hoppy and mildly bitter finish, tempered by more bourbon. A graceful and luxurious classic
of a beer. 10/10
And that drew our festival to a close. Regardless of the crowds, this was a highly successful festival for our Royal taste buds. Thankfully, James, our Royal
chauffeur was able to find our Rolls parked amongst all those student hoopdees!