With our embryonic, traveling pub kit, we managed to go through a couple of firkins of ale in a festival that has never witnessed the utilization of shive-and-keystone firkins tugged through a couple of beer engines. Temperature control became an issue, as active, swirling bodies elevated the ambient temperature of the exhibit hall seemingly past the intended capabilities of the HVAC system. Wet towels and ice bags lowered our ale temperature to an almost satisfactory 14° C, but I would've preferred a couple degrees lower.
Pouring remained steady throughout the festival. The first guy who wandered by put on what I believe to be a genuine happy face. I had brought down two firkins each of Cumbrian Moor, a porter, ABV 3.2%, and our usual unusual IPA, the Union Dew, at 5.5%.
I haven't gone to this particular brewfest in years, as a participant of course. The principal unfortunate feature of this festival, and many like it in this country, is that the individuals serving the beer generally don't have any knowledge of what they are pouring. It is disappointing to taste a beer or cider and then be denied further enlightenment. After a wrangle with one of the festival monitors as to whether I could, myself, as owner and brewer, and with a valid service permit, draw one of my own beers, I did manage to spend a bit of time behind my own pumps. Otherwise, Dave did a splendid job fortifying the little gray punter cells. We received a slew of compliments from surprised festival participants with our ability to speak intelligently and coherently about what we are about and why.
At a dollar for a 3 oz. taste, I managed to try some interesting brews. Unfortunately I didn't take any notes, and it is too long after the festival to have many name recollections. Predominantly featured are big beers; seems like subtlety is sadly lost on the American palette. I would like to see more bitters, milds, casks; but alas I'll have to draw on my memories of some nice British festivals. The West Coast IPA is everywhere, with little variation as the battle for IBU's and ABV's continues to wage. There were a few foreign beers, including Belhaven Scottish and Youngs Double Chocolate Stout, both of which would've been nice on cask and a bit warmer. The Youngs did win best of show, which I find interesting given its cold fizziness. With my enthusiasm for heat, I was quite delighted with the Calapooia Chili Beer. Now there's a beer best served cold on the keg.
I'm not sure what festival to have a go at next. There is a firkin fest in Portland in March and the Blooms and Brews up near Salem in April sounds interesting. Money is still an issue with us, as we attempt to work through our first year of business in a slow economy.
And for all you sharp-eyed bar towel spotters, I just also noticed that the English flag had been surreptitiously inverted.