Tropical Storm Jose could not keep craft beer fans from the 2nd annual Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival! With its new location, Waban Park, and larger tent, this year’s event was a great success.
The adventure begins when you get your collectable tasting glass. Walking into the tent, there is the joyful anticipation of all the new beers to explore and discover. It’s like being a kid in a candy store.
For me, I like to do an initial loop, take in the whole scene, get the lay of the land. With this loop, I usually grab a taste from one of the breweries I am familiar with, like good ole Samuel Adams. However, this year, Sam Adams brought its A Game.
The new Harvest Hefe is like Fall in a glass. Normally, I associate a hefeweizen with Summer, think Blue Moon, but this had notes of cinnamon and spice. Truly a delight to add to my Fall beer collection.
As I explored, it was fun to see old favorites and new additions. I knew there would be no shortage of good finds. Another great thing about the festival, is seeing so many friends after such a busy Summer. Spring and Fall events can be some of the most fun on the Island.
For a number of years, Magic Hat brewery from Vermont was a big deal in the craft beer world, with it’s Number #9 a fan favorite. However, I haven’t really been smitten with any of their beers in a while until now.
Magic Hat had its first release of TFG (Taken for Granted) IPA. I think it should be called TFG – too freakin good. This IPA is awesome. There are beautiful citrus notes like orange and grapefruit, that hoppy kick, and it is very smooth. Head brewer, Christopher Rockwood (far left) has produced a noteworthy, fantastic IPA! Cheers Magic Hat, you will once again be found in my fridge (last seen about 1999).
Also, I have to mention that the crew at Magic Hat was really fun to talk with, and I loved their excitement and passion for beer.
Another fun discovery, totally different from an IPA, was the Salted Caramel Stout from Southern Tier Brewery from New York. This is definitely a dessert beer. It’s brewed with Himalayan pink sea salt and notes of caramel.
During the cooler months, I like the idea of having something like this after dinner or while sitting by the fire. I couldn’t drink a lot of it, but could sip and savor this new find in lieu of other more caloric desserts.
Southern Tier also had a noteworthy pumpkin ale, Pumking. Yes I know pumpkin beers can sometimes be gross, but this one was really nice, balancing flavorful pumpkin with a good beer base. Even my husband liked it, and he is not into pumpkin at all. How I have not had this great Fall beer that’s been around for about six years before, is a great mystery.
I have been a fan of Ballast Point beers for a couple of years. The Sculpin IPA and the Grapefruit Sculpin are two of my go to beers. When I saw the Sour Wench Blackberry Ale, my interest was piqued, but not for long. Whoa was it sour, and boy, did it make me pucker up. Glad to try it, but not going to buy it. However if you’re a sour beer fan, this is for you.
While there is a lot of beer, there are also some other finds, like cider and sparkling beverages. Little did I know that I would find something so crisp and bubbly and perfect from, of all places, Ohio. Rhinegeist, which brews ciders and beers, brought this little gem, Cidergeist Rosé Ale. Where was this in my life this Summer? A cider made with apple, peach and cranberry, creating the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and bubbly. Also probably a healthier alternative, since ciders are gluten free.
It was also fun to try the cider from Lookout Farm Brewing Co. Now brewing beer too, which was premiered for the first time off the farm, at the festival, there was quite the selection to try. I decided to go for the Barnburner which is a cider with jalapeño peppers. It was sweet like a cider but had a definite kick to it, yeah hah.
I could go on and on about the beers. It is so much fun to have over 50 breweries in one place. Each year, I discover new finds and reaffirm some of my favorites, like the Blue Lobster Belgian strong ale from Offshore. This is one of my favorite beers ever, luckily, it usually only makes an appearance during the Summer months.
Beer, like wine, is so subjective. You like what you like, and tend to stay in your comfort zone. An event like this, really allows you to experiment, break out without buyer’s remorse.
More Than Beer
In addition to all the beers, there was lots more food to be found! The Midnight Train Food Truck, Pizza di Napoli and El Gato Taco were definitely busy feeding hungry festival goers.
There were also some games to play at this year’s event, like corn hole. Live music in the background, the ocean in the distance, and glorious beers, the Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival is a lot fun. Well, if you’re a beer fan.
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