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Big Beer Blowout

March 29, 2018

It’s only Thursday. But dammit, I remember when the weekend used to start on Thursday night. It doesn’t seem like that long ago. However, when I stop to do the math, we’re talking decades. With an “s”.

Whatever, I’m young at heart.

Monday begins Albany Craft Beer Week! Now, there are some people who say there are too many beer weeks in the Capital Region. And they may have a point. But if you live in Albany, are you really going to drive up to Saratoga Springs or Troy to participate in their beer weeks? Maybe. But the further you have to drive, the less you’ll get to fully participate in these event.

Our area has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great places to drink craft beer. But Albany itself has such a high concentration of beer bars and retail outlets, we deserve our own beer week. And seriously, you should check out the full line up of events here, because they include a tap takeover by Hill Farmstead, a meet the brewer night with the maker of one of my favorite beers, and another brilliant beer dinner planned by one of my favorite chefs.

While there’s a lot of fun scheduled between Monday and Friday to celebrate craft beer, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the grand finale on Saturday, April 7. That would be the Albany Craft Beer Festival at the Armory.

I feel like I need a beer sherpa to help me navigate through the beer list, which is either a beer lover’s dream or total nightmare.

Here’s the question. Over the course of three hours, how many three ounce samples can one adult human reasonably be expected to taste?

An average of one sample every five minutes feels aggressive, but seems plausible. That’s twelve per hour, or thirty-six for the duration. By my calculations, that’s 108 ounces. Or the equivalent of 9 cans of beer.

Ooh. That might be too aggressive. Or maybe not. I’m a bit of a lightweight.

The point I’m trying to make here is that a festival like this is full of hard choices. Somehow the organizers of this festival have been able to assemble over 100 rare and limited release beers for our enjoyment.

From the beer list, the oldest on offer seems to be from 2004, and that is presented in contrast with the brewery’s 2017 release. But there’s a barleywine vertical flight that contains vintages from 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016. So that’s six beers there, right off the bat. Maine Beer Co. will be there with its Lunch IPA, which is a personal favorite; we rarely see New England Brewing Co. around these parts and they are bringing four beers and some brewery staff; and then there’s LambicLand which is filled with the likes of Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Tilquin & more.

The beer list is so over the top that Founders is putting its KBS through a randall of Butterfingers. Think about that for a second.

For those who have no idea what that last sentence means, let me break it down for you. KBS is a bourbon barrel aged stout that is released just once a year, and is one of the few beers to be rated 100 out of 100 on one of those reasonably reputable beer rating sites. A four pack of 12 ounce bottles sells for about $20, that is, if you happen to make it to the beer store in the one week a year it’s available.

It’s pretty special stuff.

But to make it more special, in the context of this beer festival, they are going to try and increase its chocolate notes and take off some of the barrel aged edge by commingling the beer with Butterfinger candy, and straining it so you don’t get any bits in your beer. That’s just nuts.

You can bet I’m going to be there. I’m even going to break Passover a little bit early to do it too. Judge me all you like. I’ll atone extra hard on Yom Kippur.

I’ll even be sporting my Yelp colors, which will make me easier to find. Yelp Albany signed on with the beer festival as a promotional partner for the second year in a row. That said, today is the last day you can enter to win a pair of tickets to the festival on Yelp. The deadline for the contest is 10pm tonight.

However, if you miss that deadline, $65 for a ticket to this beer extravaganza is money well spent. That’s just a bit over $20 an hour to sample some of the greatest beers assembled under one roof. It’s more than anyone could possibly drink.

With that in mind, if you check out the beer list and have any suggestions of beers I must try while I’m at the festival, I’m all ears.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    March 29, 2018 10:53 am

    New England Brewing products were readily available locally four years ago. Then Gandhi-Bot happened, and they couldn’t keep up with demand. Now, you can never find them around, which is a shame since it’s an excellent brewery.

  2. albanylandlord permalink
    March 30, 2018 1:52 am

    The most memorable experiences last year for me were the vertical flights of KBS and of Goose Island Bourbon County. I was really surprised at the effect of the aging. Parabola was my favorite last year from Firestone, but that isn’t here this year.

    • albanylandlord permalink
      March 30, 2018 2:06 am

      More thoughts: – ask for half samples. – pour out anything you didn’t like. – drink by styles in order from low hops to high hops (save the wonderfully palate wrecking DIPAs for the end). – print out the list and research and plan out most of your choices ahead of time. – have some alcohol absorbing food just before you get there or early on. – take some notes on what you liked. – 36 samples won’t be achievable, probably even with lots of half samples. Many of those are going to be high alcohol so that night be the equivalent of 14 cans of beer :) – Don’t drive home. – Don’t plan anything for afterwards.

  3. March 30, 2018 10:05 am

    Lambic is being positioned as the new IPA for the “craft” beer crowd. It’s fascinating to watch the marketing develop.

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