Sunday, June 19, 2011

KC HopFest 2011: The Beginning

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"

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