Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stoudts Microfest 2011 (20th Anniversary)

by Matt Cathcart
Contributing Writer / Friend of Bears

Stoudts Brewing Company just wrapped up their 2011 installment of the infamous Microfest on the weekend of October 15th. I’d never been to a beer festival, and since Stoudts was just a stone’s throw away, (okay, a little more than that) and the cheapest festival I’d encountered thus far (at $35 a pop), I had decided to treat myself to an early birthday present and check it out. At the very least I figured that I could write it off as an important part of my beer journey.

The brewery lineup was a good mix of primarily Pennsylvania and Ohio companies with the occasional stray brewery that had been invited in from the cold: Yard’s, Lancaster Brewing, Intercourse Brewing, Weyerbacher, Rock Bottom, Thirsty Dog, Fat Heads, Frosty Knuckles, River Horse, Boxcar, and of course Stoudts. The typical format of the beers being served seemed to be one flagship beer, and one special offering, although there were a few that either offered all flagships (Intercourse, boo. I asked to try your pilsner, not your light pilsner) or all special brews (Stoudts displayed their rauchbier and vanilla almond porter, Thirsty Dog was giving out their RIS and a very good saison, and River
Horse sampled their Hop-A-Lot-Amus Triple IPA and their dunkleweizen).

A couple of breweries and their respective beers really took the cake. Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA turned out to be the best IPA I’ve ever had, and very well may be the best beer I have ever had (Editors Note: Derek has never had nor seen this beer, and is thus unable to verify such wild claims.) Fat Head's pumpkin ale was standard fare, but still very good, and their chocolate pumpkin stout, which was only unveiled halfway through the session, was gone before I even got to try it. Yard’s pale ale had an incredible aroma and a crisp bitter finish to back it up. Thirsty Dog’s RIS was a punch in the face of licorice and coffee flavors, and Stoudts’ vanilla almond porter was also quite good.

Ed Stoudt knows how to throw a party, my friends. Included in admission was a buffet lunch, which I can only quote one of my favorite movies in order to describe: “The spread was beautiful.” About a half hour after arriving, the man of the hour — Ed Stoudt himself, decked out in red wool knit socks and lederhosen — said a few words to encourage everyone to eat something: “We put the food out for a very important reason, and that is so that you don’t get shitfaced.” Kielbasa, sauerkraut, artisan bread, double IPA hummus, pretzels... Pretty much everything you’d expect at an event created and hosted at the Black Angus.

So what did I take away from it all? Well, I learned that I apparently really like Simcoe hops. I discovered that I need to make a road trip to Ohio to visit Fat Heads and Thirsty Dog. I found out that I really don’t want to try anything else by Intercourse Brewery. If you’re in the area next year, I strongly recommend going. It’s a great day. I’ll be there, Derek had better be there. So show up and we can all watch Ed Stoudt sing a parody of “What a Wonderful World” rewritten to be about delicious, wholesome beer together.

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