Expect another one of these soon-ish, as I'm going to another fest in a few weeks.
My 3rd year in a row attending this fest, and I had even posted about it last year. Unfortunately, many of my recommendations were rendered useless with the change of venue this year.
The Event: Hosted by Beeradvocate and Dogfish Head, which merged with Sam Adams since the last one of these. This fest has been going strong for 17 years. This year, they moved back to their original location at the Cyclorama in Boston, a much smaller venue than the last few years at the Seaport World Trade Center. I'm interested to see what happens next year with the recent merger of BeerAdvocate and Untappd. Some of the more extreme ones can be weird at best, but this year there really weren't many that I'd even consider 'extreme'. Stouts, IPA's, and sours dominated the docket this year. Despite the small venue, there were still a few breweries you just don't see in Boston.
My Experience: This year I decided to go to the Friday session to get first crack at the good stuff. Like last year, the beer list was available in advance, so I looked that up. Since there were only 30-ish breweries, I knew I'd try more than 1 at some of them, which changed my plan. I picked 2 breweries that I had to go to, another 15 or so I really wanted to go to, and like 5-6 that I decided were skip-able. I again printed out a map and color-coded it to optimize performance. I managed to try 33 different samples, which was 5 fewer than 2019, but many were extremely high alcohol. Because of the smaller venue, even the longest lines were reasonable (looking at you Kane, which I skipped last year due to the line).
The Beers: The best one I had was Kane A Night To End All Dawns - Banana, Peanut Butter & Granola (stout), which was incredible, though not as good as the star from last year. Other beers that were notably good: The Lost Abbey Peach Afternoon (sour), Dogfish Head Bourbon Barrel Aged World Wide Stout (stout), WeldWerks Hot Sauce Barrel-Aged Taco Gose (sour - definitely wins most unique), Aardwolf Snickerdoodle White Russian (stout), Definitive Double Fruited Portals (sour/fruit), and Bolero Snort Dirty Snowbull Fights (IPA). Shout out to WeldWerks for being the only brewery to make the list 2 years in a row (though I assume Kane would have if I had waited in their ridiculous line last year). Weirdest (other than the taco beer) was The North Frosty Fry-day, a Wendy's-inspired beer that probably shouldn't be served to humans.
Recommendations: The smaller venue made for fewer options, but almost everything is amazing, there are quite a few beers brewed specifically for this festival, and it's totally reasonable to hit all the breweries. With the smaller festival, I really only have 2 recommendations:
- Pick 5 or so beers that you must try, and get those within your first 10 beers to make sure they don't run out. Honestly, very few beers ran out this year (maybe 10 or so out of 120), so that was nice.
- Don't get anything if it doesn't sound good to you. If you're at a brewery, and nothing sounds good, just skip it (unless you feel the need to hit them all, and trust me, I get that).
Also, If you've got good drinking stamina, the last 45-75 minutes you will have plenty of options with no lines.
I'll be back next year for sure.