Sunday, August 7, 2011

7th Annual Blues & Brews Event Recap

On Saturday, August 6th my fiancee and I attended the 7th Annual Blues & Brews event at Lock 3 in Akron Ohio. As we arrived we found a parking garage with free parking right next to Lock 3.  This already was good start, close parking that is free is always a plus!   At noon the gates opened and the check in process was very quick.  By 12:15pm I had my first sip of beer in hand and the fun could begin!

There were two large tents set up on either side of the stage area.  One tent was the "Ohio" tent and the other one had all of the other featured brewers.   There were also a few individual tents set up by Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Sam Adams and Left Hand. I thought the spacing and set up of the event was great.  Even with a large crowd of people there was still plenty of space to move around.  We had no problems finding the beers we wanted and the longest wait of the day was no more than 5 minutes.  I also thought that each brewer had a good variety of beer to offer.  Every style was represented well and each brewer had at least 3 brews to try, some had upwards of 8 different beers!!
Thirsty Dog  Brewing
The volunteers and brewers that were pouring the beers were fun and friendly.  You can tell they liked what they were doing and were passionate about craft beer.  I do wish that more of the actual brewers were in attendance, especially out of the breweries that were from Ohio.  Craft beer lovers always enjoy a chance to chat it up with a brewer.  Today I had the pleasure of talking with the Rick & Thomas from Willoughby Brewing, Dave of Cellar Rats and a few more area brewers.  Getting to know the people behind the beer is important, and I hope to see more brewers make it to these types of events. 
Old Leghumper Porter being poured over coffee beans.
Many members of the craft beer community met up right from the start and for the most part, walked around together all day trying different beers and talking about our experience.  This growing population of craft beer lovers really makes these events a lot of fun.   In fact, there were a few members who have been active online who finally got to attend there first event!
Thanks Paul for making me a "Hop Bunny" for the day!
Now as smoothly as this day went, there were just a few hiccups along the way.  Many brewers circle attendees were looking forward to starting their day with Jackie O's selections.  Unfortunately, due to mix-ups they were not ready to pour when the gates opened.  Thanks to some quick thinking by the staff, and some help from Bobby Likes Beer, the beer eventually started flowing and we were able to try what they had to offer.
Another thing that disappointed a few people was that a crowd favorite, Fat Heads, ran out of beer at 3:30pm. (The event went until 6pm.)  I was lucky enough to snag a fresh Hop JuJu before they ran out, but for the people who had regular tickets with an admission time of 2pm I think running out of beer that soon just shouldn't happen.
The final hiccup actually turned into the best part of our day.  Maumee Bay Brewing had two beers scheduled to be on tap that we all really were looking forward to trying, a Breakfast Stout and an IPA.  As you can see in the picture below they never were tapped, they simply sat on ice all day!   Finally around 5pm myself and another craft beer community member, Bill, decided to ask if we could tap and pour the beer for the public to try.   We were given the go ahead by John Najeway of Thirsty Dog and Christine Montague, who helped put this event together.  After searching for taps, we finally got some major help from Buckeye Brewing and we were able to tap into the breakfast stout which ended being a great beer.  This was the highlight of my day, and I see why the volunteers love what they are doing!  Pouring beer for the public was so much fun!
Overall this event is going to go down as a success.  There was a great selection of beer to drink for all types of craft beer heads.  The food provided by Winking Lizard hit the spot, and the blues music set a great mood for all!  If you didn't get a chance to attend this year's event, I highly recommend that you attend next year, you will not be disappointed!
The Winking Lizard Food tent.  Sausage Sandwiches and Burgers paired perfectly with the cold beer!
So, what did I manage to sample....A lot of great beers that I've never tried before! No, I didn't get to try all 37 beers that I previewed, but I did get to have a fair amount (some more than once because I really liked them).  These were NOT full beers, they were 3oz samples!

  1. Big Vic Imperial Mogabi by Elevator Brewing Company--Simply an excellent Imperial Wheat IPA, maybe the best beer I've had from Elevator Brewing
  2. Hopjam by Willoughby Brewing--One of my favorite Black IPAs, so I had to have one!
  3. Cafe DORIS by Hoppin Frog Brewery--Strong, bold coffee flavor on top of a double imperial stout makes me a happy man.
  4. Rye of the Tiger by Great Lakes Brewing Company--A Solid Rye, but nothing mind blowing.
  5. Cafe Old leghumper by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.--A Porter but poured directly over a large amount of coffee beans. (See the picture above.) Fresh, smooth and simply amazing.
  6. Grand Cru by Great Lakes Brewing Company--This brew actually came off a little sour which was not normal.
  7. India Pale Ale by Meantime Brewing Company--I was not a fan of this IPA at all! Sweet malt and a funky yeast.
  8. Hop Strike Black Rye IPA by Tommyknocker Brewery--I was really impressed by how smooth, yet hop forward this was.
  9. Misery Bay IPA by Erie Brewing Co.--Didn't care for this, way to much malt sweetness throughout for an IPA.
  10. Fore Smoked Stout by Dark Horse Brewing Co.--A solid smoked stout.
  11. Dark Apparition by Jackie O's Pub & Brewery --This beer was rich, thick, smooth and full of roasted flavor.  I really liked it!
  12. Bourbon barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout by Weasel Boy-- Mild Bourbon flavor for being barrel aged, but still delicious.
  13. Bitter Sable Imperial Black IPA by Weasel Boy--This beer suffered because of the tap. The carbonation was gone by the time I tried it which made it not very good.
  14. Hop JuJu Imperial IPA by Fat Heads Brewery--Super hoppy from start to finish. Maybe the best version of JuJu I've ever had.  I love this beer!
  15. Maple Porter by Chardon BrewWorks--Maple sugar sweetness on top of a solid porter, I was a fan.
  16. Hogwash by Jackie O's Pub & Brewery--Everyone seemed to like this but me.
  17. The Piper India Pale Ale by Cellar Rats--A new recipe means a much hoppier and smoother tasting IPA, an improvement over what was already a good IPA.
  18. White Rajah IPA by The Brew Kettle--One of the finest IPAs you'll find anywhere in the country.
  19. Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA (Simcoe IPA) by Sam Adams--I liked the Simcoe hop version of this.
  20. Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA (Hallertau Mittelfrueh IPA) by Sam Adams--Didn't like this at all, just tasted too funky.
  21. Pitch Black IPA by Widmer Brothers Brewing Company--Fresh, boldly hopped with a solid roasted malt backbone...I liked it a lot.
  22. Total Eclipse Breakfast Stout by Maumee Bay Brewing--Thank goodness we tapped this for them because it was a very good breakfast stout filled with chocolate and coffee!
Finally, a few more pictures my fiancee and I took!  Cheers!
Disclosure:  I was provided 2 tickets to giveaway on my site, and 2 tickets to attend the event.  I helped Blues N Brews promote their event as well, but was not paid for this.   The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

1 comment:

  1. Really wanted to try the Pitch Black, but didn't get around to it. I was a volunteer server and really enjoyed it. I guess the law says that out of state brewers are not allowed to pour their own beer. I was situated near the DogfishHead beers--the indian brown was great. The Black & Red--eh, not my thing.



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