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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

East Nashville Beer Festival 2014

A review of the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
The Old Red Boots group: Steve, Lauren, Justin (who made all the pretzel necklaces), Jen and Donnie 
This past Saturday was the East Nashville Beer Festival, one of my favorite days of the year. This festival marks the beginning of spring, when locals emerge from their houses, put on their sunglasses and step outside to mingle. The festival officially started at noon, but we arrived a half hour early so we could get our IDs checked and get in quickly. Gate entry was really efficient this year with teams of two checking IDs and scanning tickets at the same time. This prevented any entry backup and as soon as the festival was open we sauntered right through the gate.
Calfkiller beer at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
I made my way right to the Tennessee tent to try out some of my local favorites. Calfkiller always provides some of my favorite beers (not to mention that their set-up is always super cool). The first beer I tried was the Trail Ale, which was a granola flavored beer. It had a full nutty sweetness with the signature Calfkiller yeast flavor. I also got to sample the Pear Smoke Treat that had a subtle smokiness about it and a nice sweetness from the pear. Their Dark Earth Stout was thick and heavy but not overly sweet with chocolate or coffee notes. Honestly, you can never go wrong with anything the Sergio brothers put out.
Cool Springs Brewery at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Cool Springs Brewery got my vote for favorite new brewery, but it also won the "place where I'm most embarrassed to order" award. Everything was a dick joke from the team at CSB. While I thought the blow-up sex doll and dildo tap pull were a little over the top, the beer was some of the best of the day. The Mango IPA (which had the least creative name) was a standout. I normally don't enjoy IPAs, but everyone I talked to, no matter what their preference, loved this beer. The mango made the beer so sweet and fruity that I didn't even notice the bitterness that the hops added, creating just a solid flavorful drink. I also sampled the From the Window orange blossom saison, which was light and sweet but wasn't super impressive. While I didn't get to try it, The Sweet Peachy Balls also received favorable reviews.
Turtle Anarchy at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Turtle Anarchy is another local favorite that just keeps putting out solid beer. I tired their special of the day, a peanut butter stout made with PB2. I have never had a peanut butter beer and I was excited to try this. I was surprised by how subtle the peanut butter flavor was. I was kind of happy that it didn't taste like I was drinking a jar of Skippy. The beer reminded me of a snickers bar soaked in dark beer, which is actually a lot better than it sounds. Keep up the creative work Turtle Anarchy!
Yazoo at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Yazoo is the granddaddy of Nashville beer and they always go all-out at local festivals. I went for the special, a 2013 Berliner Weisse filtered through pink grapefruit and pineapples. This is the MOST PERFECT BREAKFAST BEER EVER DEVISED. All we could talk about is how we want this beer for some Manmosas.
Straight to Ale at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Oh Straight to Ale, how I love your space age quirkiness, clever names, and tasty libations. I tried the Sand Island Lighthouse Kolsch and quite enjoyed it. It was a light and enjoyable summertime beer that would be great for beach hangouts or porch hangs and day drinking. Since I'm not a fan of hops I let Steve try the Helle Rye IPA filtered though fresh citra hops. He said it was "glorious" and "amazing" with a very nice aroma.
Flat 12  at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Unfortunately, the consensus was that Flat 12 brought along some of the least tasty options of the day. The Briar Pinko, a barrel aged raspberry stout was the most divisive offering of the day. Two of my friends loved it and thought it was a good mix of sweet and sour, while others thought it reminded them of Robitussin. I'm more inclined to lean with the medicine folks, as I couldn't drink it without having flu flashbacks. Their Tequila aged saison, Reposado Saison du Flat reminded most of my group of Italian salad dressing with everyone dumping this one out. Despite the first two bummers, the Brandy Walkabout Pale Ale aged in French Brandy Barrels was enjoyed by everyone, especially Steve.
Woodland Wine Merchant at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
The folks from my favorite Eastside wine and liquor store Woodland Wine Merchant brought a staggering array of Belgian beer to taste. They even brought a long a checklist of all their offerings and after looking at that list I knew there was no way I could possibly try them all. Upon recommendation from my friend Holland who said that this beer "made him question every life decision up until this point" I had to try the Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge. This was a refreshingly tart and very wine-like sour beer.
Schmaltz brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival

Schmaltz brewing always brings some of my favorites to the festival. Besides their really good beer, I'm a fan of their design and packaging. We tried the Rejewvinator, a mix of a belgian style dubbel ale and a dopplebock European lager brewed with merlot grapes. It wast tasty but not overly sweet or sour from the grapes. We gave this beer a gold star and would be remiss if we also didn't decide that this beer would be a solid deck-drinking beer. Steve enjoyed their R.I.P.A. on Rye, a rye double india pale ale aged in whisky barrels. It had that alcoholic flavor and a bit of a throat burn, but in a good way. It was hoppy with a dash of sweet that made this beer stand out.
Deschutes Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Deschutes had some really impressive offerings. My favorite was the Mirror Mirror barleywine. This was one of my favorites, being so sweet and easy to drink. There is no overpowering alcoholic feeling, so it's deceptively easy to drink for something with such a high alcohol content. You could drink a whole bottle of this and not know how strong it was before it's too late. A few of us (including me) went back for seconds on this one. Another favorite from Deschutes was their Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
Black Abbey Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Black Abbey is one of Nashville newest breweries. I went to their taproom a few weeks ago and loved it. The atmosphere is nice, the staff is friendly (Hi Carl!) and the beer is downright awesome. I tried their Crossroads Cream Ale which was new to me. It was light and sessionable. They also had the And The Bandit Smokey Rye IPA. The smoke was subtle but blended nicely with the level of hops, and didn't get lost in all the other flavors that were going on.
Jackalope Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
All the folks walking around with antlers must have stopped by the Jackalope booth. Their Bearwalker is always a good go-to drink for me. At the festival I was able to try something different, the Snowman Stout made with mocha. It wasn't my favorite stout of the day, but it was solid and definitely something I would order from their taproom next winter.
Little Harpeth Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Little Harpeth Brewing is another newcomer to Nashville (Can I just say that I'm excited about all these new breweries in the past few years?). I tried their Chicken Scratch, an American Pilsner made with corn. It was light and drinkable, a perfect beer to bring when you are floating down a river in the summer.
Schalfty Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
I've been a fan of St. Louis's Schlafly beer since a trip to the city about 4 years ago. If you ever make it to STL, you have to stop in for some food and drink at their taproom. I had their special pumpkin ale which was amazing. It tasted just like drinking a pumpkin pie. Granted, it was the wrong weather for this type of beer, but when you have something so good that tastes like nutmeg and cinnamon, you can't go wrong. Their Irish Stout was the best stout of the day, being well balanced and robust without any of the bitterness from the roasted grains and hops.
New Belgium Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
New Belgium is always a fan favorite, putting out tasty beer, having an awesome corporate culture and putting on the super-awesome Tour de Fat all over the country. Steve tried their Wild Dubbel- it was pretty amazing according to Steve. It was made using a wild yeast strain, but the most impressive thing about it was all the earthy herbal notes. I think the wonder of this beer left Steve speechless. I was able to try a Gruit beer, a beer made with other herbs instead of hops. This type of beer was new to me and I had no point of reference, but it really wasn't my thing.
Left Hand Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Left Hand brewing makes a phenomenal milk stout. I was able to try their version of a nitro stout, which was one of my favorite beers of the day. It was sweet, while being dark and lovely. I was also able to try the Founders Kentucky Breakfast stout which was done with a variety of coffee beans and chocolate. It was thick like a milkshake and really strong. I totally loved this beer!
Red Brick Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Red Brick and some really nice offerings including a Russian imperial stout and a bourbon barrel beer. The stout was solid and while it tasted like coffee, the texture was not very thick. The bourbon barrel ale was really smooth and sweet, but was fairly run-of-the-mill as far as barrel aged beers go.
Lagunitas Brewing at the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Lagunitas' Brown Sugga' sweet release was pretty tasty. It's a beer that caused many expletives to come out of our mouths. It was hoppy, but it had enough balancing sweetness to make me really enjoy it. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this beer. The overall consensus was that it was pretty darn amazing.
A review of the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
The nuts and bolts of the event went really smoothly this year. Like I said earlier, the quick ID check and ticket scan made waiting on line much easier. Just like last year, there were more than enough port-o-johns for everyone and there was never a line to get in (which is probably the most important thing when your event is based around continuously dumpling liquids into your body). The ticketing system through Eventbrite was easy to use and flawless. While I was excited about the new TripFriend app for the festival, I found the interface clunky and not as useful as I was hoping. Perhaps because I tend to write everything down, I was hoping that there would be a specific list of all the beers by each brewery with a spot in the app where I could take notes. I really hope that the app can become much better in future years for annoying factotums like myself.
A review of the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
Favorites:
Cool Springs Brewing: Mango IPA
Deschutes: Mirror Mirror Barleywine
Yazoo: Berliner Weisse with Pink Grapefruit and Pineapples
Founders: Kentucky Breakfast Stout
New Belgium: Wild Dubbel
Schlafly: Irish Stout
Straight To Ale: Helle Rye IPA w/ fresh Citra hops

Not So Much:
Flat 12: Briar Pinko and the Reposado Saison du Flat
New Belgium: Gruit 
A review of the 2014 East Nashville Beer festival
***A special thanks to Rhizome productions who put on this fabulous event (as well as many others) year after year. They invited me back to cover the festival and I'm so thankful that they keep taking a chance on a local blogger who just loves to eat and drink.***

3 comments:

  1. Ok. I am not at all a beer expert (in fact I have the saddest most girly taste in beer and most days would be pleased as punch to be drinking a coors light) but I always wish I were when events like this roll around. I have been the CSB before and sampled some of their beers and really remembered liking them though. I may have to check out that mango one because it sounds amazing. I am also intrigued by Black Abbey...maybe because I really like that font! It looks like a metal band.

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  2. This looks like a blast! I can't wait to start going to festivals this spring/summer! Especially the ones with lots of great beer.

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    1. Beer festivals are so much fun! I had no idea I would like them until Steve started taking me to them about three years ago! What do you have planned?!

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