BEER FESTIVAL REVIEW: COLUMBUS, OHIO

Happy Craft Beer Week!  Last night, Herr Direktor and I hit up the 2nd Annual Columbus (Ohio) Beer Fest.  At 210 beers, it’s a microcosm of its bigger cousins.  And there were plenty of breweries notably missing, some because they don’t distribute to Ohio, others for no apparent reason (DFH WTF?).

The atmosphere was… very Ohio.  It was in a small ballroom at the convention center.  The music was terrible.  It was a 4-1/2 hour long beer festival, yet the band took at least an hour long break in the middle–giving way to a crappy radio station.  Also, the band sucked.  It was like Smashing Pumpkins but with no talent. The food was overpriced and downright bad.  And why was the ceiling covered in red and blue neon lights?  I don’t know.

I was pumped for the beer list, though.  Most of my favorite breweries were there: Avery, Bell’s, Founders, Jolly Pumpkin, Lagunitas, North Coast, Ommegang, Southern Tier, Troeg’s, Two Brothers, and Victory.  I was disappointed with the showing from Ohio breweries, as Great Lakes had nothing on tap and Hoppin’ Frog was MIA.    All in all, though, it was well worth the $30 ticket.  Here’s a detailed list:

The Great, in order of priority:

  1. Avery Maharaja: hands down, the best beer at the festival.  That does say a lot about what wasn’t there, but at the same time, it’s tough to beat Maharaja on tap.  It’s a huge imperial IPA that tastes like a face full of bananas.  One of only three beers I had more than once.
  2. Flying Dog Raging Bitch: a distant second but still outstanding.  A Belgian IPA that’s more IPA than Belgian.  Awesome.
  3. Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale: a complex black IPA with a ridiculous hop profile and dark undertones of I-have-no-idea-because-it-was-the-15th-beer-I-drank.
  4. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout: black as death, pours like molasses, something like 11% ABV, and just generally huge.
  5. Avery New World Porter: now tied for the best porter I’ve ever had, with Victory’s Baltic Thunder (which was sadly not at the beer festival).  Delicious.
  6. Boulder Obovoid: this beer might have been higher if it wasn’t roughly the last beer 0f 20+.  It’s a super-rich oatmeal stout aged in oak barrels.  God bless America.
  7. Left Hand Milk Stout: ordinarily would not make the “great” list, but it was on the nitro tap.  May God continue to bless America.
  8. Ommegang Gnomegang: a collaboration “Belgian strong pale ale” with Chouffe.  Tremendous.
The Very Good, in no particular order:
  • Boulder Mojo IPA
  • Breckenridge Vanilla Porter: would never think to buy it in a bottle, but terrific on draft.
  • Maumee Bay Amarillo Brillo: a great DIPA from a brewery in Toledo, Ohio.
  • Ommegang BPA: Belgian pale ale.  More Belgian than pale ale.
  • Rivertown Roebling Porter: one-note but very smooth.  From Cincinnati.
  • Troeg’s Sunshine Pils: I don’t know why I got a pilsner, but it was the best I’ve had.
  • Two Brothers Cane and Ebel: just OK in a bottle but stupendous on tap.  A great rye strong ale.
  • Victory St. Victorious Doppelbock: a really, really good example of a style I typically don’t care for.
  • Victory Yakima Glory: awesome.
The Good:
  • Columbus Brewing Company Pineapple Jalapeno IPA (cask): has a kick to it, to say the least.  I don’t know why I liked it, but I did (though not nearly as much as the people lining up for seconds).  By far the best beer I’ve had from CBC.
  • Founders All Day IPA: like eating a grapefruit straight from the tree.
  • Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster: a middle-of-the-road imperial IPA.
  • North Peak Diabolical IPA: generic but good (and free).
The Terrible:
  • Great Divide Hades
  • Rogue Chatoe OREgasmic
The Regrets (i.e. for not trying them, either due to unavailability or drunkenness):
  • Barley’s Brewing Co. Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout
  • Bell’s 10,000 Batch: the beer I was most looking forward to was gone by 7:30 p.m., before I even arrived.
  • Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout: generally MIA.  I do note that you should not volunteer for a beer festival, at least not in Ohio, if you don’t know that Bell’s makes more than one stout.
  • Bluegrass Brewing Co. Jefferson Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
  • Columbus Brewing Co. Bourbon Barrel Aged Uncle Rusty: imperial red.  Emphasis on “barrel aged.”
  • Fat Heads Stone Age Imperial Stout
  • Goose Island Big John: though the real regret was that they didn’t bring anything better than Big John.
  • Goose Island Night Stalker
  • Jolly Pumpkin Maricaibo Especial: bottle only.
  • Leinenkugel Summer Shandy; just kidding.
  • North Coast Pranqster
  • North Coast Brother Thelonius: brings a new level of depth to the word “regret.”
  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere
  • Widmer Nelson Imperial IPA
I’ll close with some gripes.  Why Lagunitas came to a beer festival with nothing but its IPA and Pils is beyond me.  Ditto for Bell’s rolling in with Amber Ale, Oberon and Oarsman.  Did I mention Hoppin’ Frog wasn’t there?  Why not?!
Thanks again to Herr Direktor for rolling with me to the beer festival.  Not sure why he spent so much time making beer recommendations to middle-aged women.  (“Oh, you like Blue Moon?  Have you tried Honey Moon?”)  Good times.
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8 comments

  1. People keep raving about the Raging Bitch- I’ve had it in bottles and wasn’t blown away. Gonna need to try it again.

    Nice list!

  2. Brooklyn chocolate stout is “big beer” but tastes bad.

  3. I’d say you got your $30 worth.
    Damn, that’s a fantastic list.

    However, those regrets could be difficult to live with.

  4. Herr Hordeum · · Reply

    Wait, smashing pumpkins had talent?

  5. Resie Rae · · Reply

    Beer Festival Review Brew Ha-Ha

    There were only half as many beer tents as was advertised- but I still managed to get soo focking drunk. The beer was so damn good & my little 5 oz glass was always full! Thanks to Fred from Fort Collins Brewery & Alex from Bristol Brewing for making sure I never had an empty glass!!

    My favorite beers of the day were:
    Fort Collins Banshee Red- a new go-to beer, so drinkable
    Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA- so good I wanted to swim in it
    -this is the beer I drank the crap out of & we killed the keg (the Banshee too) in about 3 hours.
    Odell Brewing St. Lupulin- that was a party in my mouth
    Bristol Brewing Laughing Lab- solid tasty brew & the last keg standing only cuz Alex brought 3 of them!
    Oskar Blues Dales Pale & Mama’s Little Yella- wow! I can drink the shit out of these

    The OK-But-Not-Outstanding Beers:
    San Luis Valley Brewing wheat & amber- I stayed away from the Green Chili beer
    Durango Brewing Wheat & Blueberry Wheat- why doe the fruity wheats always taste a little like seltzer water to me?

    The That-Just-Ain’t-Right Beer:
    Trinity Brewing’s Artichoke Saison- I just canno’ get my taste buds to like artichokes. Their other Saison was really good but I’ll be damned if I can remember the name of it.

    There was also Alaskan Brewing, Colorado Native & the last tent I flat out don’t remember at all. Did I drink something there?

    It was a windy bitch, the band was good but really loud, & the comedian just didn’t have a loud enough voice to be heard over the crowd. Still a solid beer fest & I had a blast! I finally saw Bert the Conqueror at the Royal Gorge Brew Pub and it looked like Will Colon & Raft Masters kicked his ass! I saw the camera guys, loaded with film, at the beer fest, so I assume they’ll put some of that in the show.

    Ok, I gotta try & work some of this hangover off & then go open the store. uuuuck. Did somebody beat the crap out of me when I wasn’t looking? I think it might’ve been that malty fella Jameson at the bar… asshole.

  6. Resie Rae · · Reply

    OOH OOH! My bad! I forgot the New Belgium tent- Somersault is really good!! Just a hint of ginger in a sea of citrus & hops. Yummy!

    But I still don’t remember what the hell the last tent was… over by Trinity.

  7. Good post, but not enough tags.

  8. […] Beer Festival Review: Columbus, Ohio (aleheads.com) […]

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