Monday, October 11, 2010

Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest

With my good friend Billy, I attended the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest Saturday afternoon. Here's my quick take on this very enjoyable event:

Beers I tried
Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company: Ninja Porter
French Broad Brewing Company: Gateway Kolsch
Yazoo Brewing Company: Summer Ale, Sue
Vino’s Brewpub: Goldcrest 51
Mid-South Malts/Memphis Homebrewers: English IPA
Abita: Andygator, SOS

Overall Thoughts
The CYRB was a pleasantly manageable size, allowing attendees to try products from all (or at least most) of the breweries represented without getting sloshed. The focus on breweries within a day’s drive of Memphis was a nice theme (that said, Sierra Nevada was represented, too; they were an obvious outlier, but I don’t think anyone complained). The afternoon on which the festival was held, however, boasted a record high temperature for the date (some 90-odd degrees); the lack of humidity meant that we were not exactly uncomfortable, but I altered my beer selection strategy to accommodate the heat (ie, more Kolsches and lighter beers, fewer dark and/or heavy ales).

Pleasant Surprises
1. Andygator, Abita’s double bock. This was the first beer I tried, and it was a hot day, so of course this one seemed extra refreshing. But I think I’d like it in a different setting as well…crisp, not watery, not bitter for the wrong reasons (ie, skunky), just refreshing and thirst-quenching.
2. Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company’s Ninja Porter. After only a few minutes at the beerfest, I knew the unseasonably warm temps would probably lead me to lean toward the lighter beers (in body and color) rather than the heftier ones that I often prefer. The Ninja Porter, though, was the right beer at the right time—a complete contrast to the others I’d tried heretofore, yet surprisingly thirst-quenching for a porter. Nice chocolate and coffee overtones, and light carbonation. Winner!
3. The Goldcrest 51. Unlike the lightweight imposter that was marketed and sold here very briefly in the mid-90s, this version of the flagship beer of the old Tennessee Brewery does indeed follow the recipe used in brewing the original. Although the new/old 51 is not a beer I'd crave, it is much more flavorful than most mass-produced beers and (like #s 1 and 2 above) proved to be eminently thirst quenching.

Yazoo’s famed Sue—wrong beer at the wrong time. I’ve been a bit turned off by rauchbiers/smoky beers (maybe it’s an acquired taste?), but I’d heard good things about Sue. Unfortunately, the smoky flavor, full-bodiedness, and high alcohol content led me to cut bait after only a few sips (for shame!). I don't really blame the beer--the taste matched the description--but I guess I'd hoped I'd be more ready for it. I wasn't.

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