Update 6/24/11: This post has been modified from the original after I became uncomfortable with the caustic nature of some of my criticisms. - MM
I left off my previous post heading out to try another special KC HopFest offering: Left Hand Brewing TNT
The line is short. I can see the TNT tap. I am looking forward to this. I've enjoyed many Left Hand brews: Milk Stout, Sawtooth and 400 Lb Monkey come to mind. I try to make eye-contact with the fellow behind the table and say, "Gimme shum uh dat TNT shit man!" "I'd like the TNT, please." Without looking up, the guy says, "Do you know what it is?"
I suppose the MO Bev guy was just trying to warn off an unsuspecting HopFest participant from an unpleasant craft beer experience, but I don't think his approach could be more douchey. Sadly, the guy upped the "D" quotient by only serving me about one ounce, even after I assured him I knew what I was asking for.
When I went back and said, "gimme sum fukin moar!", "Its good, can you top it up this time?" He still only gave me half a glass. All this without ever looking up. Way to show off that St. Louis charm, MO Bev!
Happily, I can say this was the only truly negative experience I had, and I can't put any blame on the hosts of the event. It was really a small incident in the grand scheme of things.
Left-Hand describes TNT as a Weizen Doppelbock. Originally, I thought I was getting a Dunkelweizen, but I did recall that Molly said it was smokey. The great revelation for me was that I REALLY liked it! The Lapsang Souchong Black Tea is the source of the smoke flavor; From Wikipedia: "lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires". The smoke is not overwhelming, it complements the roasty malts and helps to mask the 7.2% ABV.
Tickets to KC HopFest was my Father's Day present from Ms. Muddy. Thanks honey!
Arrival: I didn't have the VIP tickets, but when I arrived the crowd is still sparse. There is a big tent with chairs and tables. I like this set-up. I stake my claim to a corner chair by laying out my program and placing my Swisher Sweets and lighter on top. I meet Tom and his wife Cindy. Tom is a homebrewer from New York who likes IPA style beers. Great conversation ensues.
My first sample is Boulevard Hoppy Wheat - It is hard to find the specs for this brew. When Beer Kitchen had the Boulevard Beer Dinner back in April, the beer was described as, "high-gravity Falconer's Flight dry-hopped Unfiltered Wheat - 5.2%; a new test brew for Boulevard, sessionable wheat beer with an herbal & citrus hop character"
Falconer's Flight is a new hop released in March 2011. It is a dual use hop with a flavor profile of Tropical Fruit, Citrus, floral, lemon and Grapefruit character. The additional hops take the Boulevard Wheat into a completely different realm. The typical American wheat tartness is melded with the citrus of the hops for a very refreshing taste. Boulevard should bottle this brew. I submit my label suggestion for Boulevard Hoppy Wheat:
I finish my first sample and see that Tom and Cindy have left, but there are still plenty of chairs available so I feel confident I will not lose my place as I head out for a new sample. I look for a short line and find one on the North side at Tallgrass. This gives me a chance to get my question answered about their Halcyon wheat beer, "Is it brewed with Halcyon malt?" (no, it is not).
I go for a sample of the Tallgrass Oasis, described as an ESB/IPA hybrid or a Double ESB, which is not an existing classification. It takes some cajones to claim your beer is in a category all by itself. This 7.2% ABV, 93 IBU concoction has a strong hop and caramel aroma. The flavor of pine and citrus hops up front is subdued by bready English maltiness. While BeerAdvocate has this in the same class as Dogfish 90 and Pliny, is not anywhere near Barleywine territory. So very drinkable. Maybe it is in a class of its own?
Just as I finish the Oasis, a new group sits down at the table. A pretty redhead is raving about the Left Hand TNT.
I ask her about it and she describes a DunkelWeisen brewed with Black Tea. Will Molly and her friend protect my spot? YES! I double time it to the Left-Hand booth. This is where I run into my first unpleasant experience.
More on that in Part II, "The Douche and the Dirtwater Distributor"