Extreme Beer Fest
We’re not sure when everyone started using the word “extreme” to describe everything, but it had to be sometime after 1990 when Vanilla Ice told us that he’ll “glow to the extreme, rock the mic like a vandal.”
Either way, they were all wrong, including poor Mr. Ice. There’s only one thing that can be properly classified as “extreme”, and that’s BeerAdvocate’s Extreme Beer Fest, February 1st and 2nd in Boston.
“It’s an honor to be a part of Extreme Beer Fest and considered the elite of the elite of craft brewers,” says Events Coordinator Randi Friel. “We’ve worked really hard to get here and it’s great to be noticed on a national level at a festival like this.”
There are 126 brewers expected to attend, with 482 beers in tow, including a few of our New Jersey friends as well as breweries from Norway and Canada.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the brewery shine,” says Sales Manager Erin Gale, who will be attending the festival. “Fans and customers here in the Jersey and Philly area know how good we are, and it’s exciting to put us on a national stage with the best of the best.”
Innovation Director Brian Hink will be making the trip, as well. This is his first time at the festival, and he’s looking forward to it.
“I’ve always heard it’s one of the best out there,” he says. “I’ve checked out the brewery list a few times, and there’s an absurd number that I can’t wait to try, chat with fellow brewers, make some new acquaintances.”
Festivals such as these are a good chance for him to catch up with some of his friends throughout the industry, and he’s looking forward to seeing the guys from Great Notion. We collaborated with them last year on a strawberry vanilla salt water taffy IPA.
“You can’t get their stuff outside of their brewery in Portland,” he says, “and their beer is incredible. I can’t wait to try some of their beers again and catch up with James and the crew.”
It doesn’t hurt that this festival is in Boston. Granted, in the South Jersey area, we’re partial to Philly and New York, but we gotta give Boston its due. Boston’s a great town. In fact, Randi lived in Southie a few years ago and is looking forward to heading back to her old stomping grounds.
“And it’s my birthday!” she says. “I get to spend it trying all the great beers that will be in this festival.”
Randi and Brian will be making the trip up together.
“We’ll just talk about cats for the 6-hour drive,” he says, “so I’m definitely looking forward to that, and I’m hoping we have time for a stop or two along the way. There are a ton of really awesome breweries on the route that I’m always eager to check out.”
Ultimately, Extreme Beerfest is a great stage to unveil some new beers. In fact, this year, the organizers gave brewers two challenges: to bring at least one sessionable beer of 5% ABV or lower and to bring at least one beer that will make its debut at the festival — either the world premiere of a new beer or an exciting twist on an existing extreme beer.
So, we’ve got some cool tricks up our sleeve.
“Brian and production came up with some really epic beers specifically for this event,” Randi says. “I’m excited to unveil them to some of the biggest beer geeks out there. I’m stoked to see what other breweries are doing and coming up with, too.”
So, what, exactly, is an “extreme beer”?
“Extreme brewing isn’t new,” says BeerAdvocate on their website. “At its core, extreme brewing is the pursuit of exceptionally creative ales and lagers via unexpected or innovative ingredients, techniques, and methods. Extreme brewing embodies the possibilities of what beer can be.”
Innovation Director Brian Hink put together a killer selection of beers. We’re bringing two beers that we’ll be debuting at the festival, Beer Name: Eminently Drinkable and a new, Imperial version of Tiny Drink Umbrella with pomegranates, black currants, and dark cherries; as well as Last Hurrah and New Year’s Resolution.
For a festival termed “extreme”, Last Hurrah seemed like an obvious choice.
“It’s the biggest beer we’ve ever made,” Brian said, “coming in at 15%. It’s just a big, delicious, roasty, chocolaty monster of a stout.”
New Year’s Resolution might seem like an odd choice for an “extreme” beer festival as a Brut pilsner at only 4.2%, but the organizers asked for a session brew.
“I’ve been to a number of pretty extreme fests and I find myself always looking for an easy-drinking lager to have as an in-between beer to help reset the palate,” he says. “It really helps you appreciate the extreme beers that much more, so I pushed hard out of the gate to bring New Year’s Resolution.”
Tiny Drink Umbrella — our answer to the smoothie beer trend that’s been making waves in the beer world — is our most extreme version in this series.
“It’s 10% ABV, but literally drinks like your morning smoothie,” he says. “The texture feels like a smoothie: thick, viscous, chewy almost. It really makes you ask the question, ‘Is this even beer?’ The high ABV is completely hidden — there’s not a trace of alcohol heat, and it literally goes down like juice. We chose pomegranate, black currant, and dark cherry, with the pomegranate being the focal fruit, and the other two being complementary.”
But Brian is most excited about Beer Name: Eminently Drinkable.
“Here we have a 13% ABV IPA brewed with an amazingly unique Kveik yeast strain, dry-hopped at 10 pounds-per-barrel with super fresh and delicious Cashmere and Azacca hops,” he says. “This thing drinks like a fruit cocktail: toss out any tropical/citrusy/melony fruit combination you can think of, and this beer goes that direction. It has a pleasant sweetness that plays up the fruity character, and the hops pair perfectly off each other while complimenting the yeast in the best way possible. It is without a doubt the most absurdly drinkable beer at this ABV I’ve ever had. Without knowing the ABV, you’d easily mistake it for being a 6-7% IPA. It’s extremely dangerous.”
Before the festival, we’ll be taking part in a few events on Thursday night. At City Tap Boston, we’ll be joining a celebration of the innovative brewers at Extreme Beerfest and pouring Aiding & A’Bretting. We’ll also be part of the Extreme Tap Takeover at Brewer’s Tap & Table, pouring Temporarily Permanent and Snag & Drop.
So, if you happen to be in Boston next weekend, be sure to check us out at this killer festival or at any of those great events. See you soon!