Monday, September 29, 2008

Northern Virginia Brewfest

On Sunday I took a drive up to Centreville, VA to attend the Northern Virginia Brewfest. Yes, that's two beer festivals in one weekend. What can I say, except that I have an understanding family. As I arrived at Bull Run Park, there were large dark clouds off in the distance, but it was, at the moment, clear and quite warm.

There were 50+ breweries in attendance, along with many food vendors, and a few miscellaneous merchandise booths. I enjoyed a number of very good beers during the course of the afternoon, but I will mention just a few that stood out. My first stop was the Mad Fox Brewing / Vintage 50 tent to see what beers Bill Madden was making available. I opted to start with the Wee Heavy. I returned to the same tent later, after I heard murmurs of a "stealth beer", and acquired a sample of a very enjoyable Altbier. (I understand that there was a Saison in the stealth tap on Saturday.)

Another beer I enjoyed was a Pumpkin Ale from New Holland Brewing. The beer is made with real pumpkin, in addition to the usual spices. The beer had a very pleasant pumpkin flavor that was not overpowered by spices.

Eventually the dark clouds moved in and we got a brief, but heavy rain. I grabbed a glass of Starr Hill Festie and a bowl of chili from Hard Times Cafe and waited out the rain under one of the tents provided.

In looking for new beers to try, I stuck with more "moderate" beers rather than big, high ABV beers, given I did have a long drive home. Another new-to-me beer that I enjoyed was Wolaver's Brown Ale from Otter Creek. This is a well balanced brown ale with a moderate hop bite.

The beers are always nice, but I especially look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones when I go to a beer fest. I had good conversations with Tom Cizauskas of Yours For Good Fermentables. Tom works for Select Wines and was representing eight breweries this weekend. The New Holland Brewery representative Joel also blogs at The Grain Bill and it was a pleasure to meet a fellow beer blogger. I also had an interesting chat with Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso. Jim told me that Flying Dog's move to Maryland has been a success and the beers are doing well in the east.

I had a very enjoyable afternoon at the Northern Virginia Brewfest. Both this event and its sister event, the Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest in Leesburg, are extremely well-organized. The focus is on good beer in a family-friendly venue and indeed I saw lots of families in attendance. Despite the rains the crowd was still growing as I left for home. The organizers, volunteers, and the breweries, are to be congratulated on a successful and fun event. I look forward to the next one.

I was having so much fun focusing on beer and people I neglected to take many pictures. I have uploaded a few here.

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