The city of Coralville’s 2nd annual BrrrFest will once again go down as a major success. It brought a smile to my face to see thousands of fellow beer lovers lining up donning different beer shirts, pretzel necklaces, and other random beer paraphernalia. Lots of smiling faces waiting in eager anticipation for the doors to Marriott Convention Center to open and the for the beer tasting to begin.
Upon entering the first thing that caught my eye was how marvelous the guys from Peace Tree Brewing (Knoxville, IA www.peacetreebrewing.com) were dressed! Looking like guys from the prohibition era trying to smuggle in some booze to the event, bravo to them! I went right up to their booth and enjoyed their imperial stout and then followed with some their Hop Sutra. Both tasty brews and a great way to start the festival.
I really wanted to get into Toppling Goliath’s (www.tgbrews.com) line before it started going out the door. Luckily, I was one of 4 people in line and got to try their Pseduo Sue/Pompeii beer, which was remarkable. After that, jumped back in for a couple Golden Nuggets and things are looking good and not too hazy yet. Finishing up with TGbrews I headed over to one of my favorites from last year, Bent River Brewing (www.bentriverbrewing.com) out of Moline, IL. I was glad to see they had their stout and jalapeño wheat with them so I got one of each of those. Pepper beers can be hit and miss with me but Bent River hits a home run with these jalapeño brew. Their stout isn’t labeled coffee, but man, intense coffee flavor making this one of my all-time favorite stouts.
From there I had to get over to Madhouse’s booth (www.madhousebeer.com) and dip into their Templeton Rye Barrel-Aged stout.
The line was pretty long, and a lot of people were going with the barrel-aged. A nice full pour and the aroma of vanilla, chocolate, and booze was immediate. I let it set for a bit to get it as close to room temperature as I could, but this wasn’t a day for waiting around, first drink, nice, smooth, vanilla flavor followed by the bourbon. Not overally strong, an easy drinking barrel-aged brew. After another one of these I followed up with a couple of Hopbursts and found my wife and friends for a bit of a breather. Now, here is when it would be great to have some local restaurants have booths with food available. I would have loved to have had a slider from Red’s Alehouse or Short’s Burgers to accompany my Hopburst, but I’m guessing this is where the Marriott has full control and only allows their vendors to have food. Hoping to see some development with this down the road.
After a nice little gathering session, one of my buddies told me I need to get over to Chefs In Black’s table (www.cibbrewery.com) because they were pouring some unique brews. A beer I went back to 3 or 4 times was their Orange Scorpion. At 7.2% ABV this beer is made with the world’s hottest chilie, the “Trinidad Scorpion”. It tasted somewhat like a really good farmhouse ale and then the chilie pepper kicked in; not too hot, just the perfect amount of heat. This beer is a real winner; loved it!
After CIB I made my way to Nebraska Brewing Company and really enjoyed their IPA. I was hoping for some of their Reserve Series, but no go there. Found Backpocket’s table and enjoyed a couple helpings of their Double IPA, Machete. Was disappointed that they weren’t going to do a bomber release of it, I think it will just be on tap. I also forgot mention Great Rivers’ booth, things were getting a little out of focus when I got to them, but their West Coast IPA and Red Band Stout were both very enjoyable.
Overall, great experience. I didn’t get to visit all the booths, so if there are things I didn’t mention here, please feel free to post a comment on what you liked/disliked. The only things I was disappointed in was the lack of food vendors and the fact I didn’t get in line quick enough to try Toppling Goliath’s Assassin pour. Everyone in the party I was in said they are already looking forward to next year. Some hits, some misses, but mostly a great time with great beer. Can’t wait until 2014!
My favorite brews: (no particular order)
*PseudoSue/Pompeii Mix from Toppling Goliath
*Golden Nugget by Toppling Goliath
*Peace Tree Hop Sutra and Imperial Stout
*Nebraska Brewing Company IPA
*CIB Orange Scorpion
*Bent River Stout and Jalapeño Wheat
*Madhouse Templeton Rye bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout + Hopburst