Choosing the right horse requires a lot of luck and a certain willingness to watch your already mentally-spent earnings fail to materialize. That's why I took a different gamble at Turf Paradise Race Track this weekend and thought I'd try my luck with a bunch of micro brew enthusiasts instead of horse gamblers.
Packed into Turf Paradise's club house on Saturday, June 20, 2009 were a united force of brewers from around the country and a few hundred of their biggest (and thirstiest) fans ready to celebrate the Draft Magazine Craft Brew Festival.
Draft teamed up with Dogfish Head Brewing to throw the event which benefited PBS Channel 8 in Phoenix. A Draft Magazine representative was nice enough to inform me that the event was meant to be a little different from your average beer-guzzling festival to reflect the intelligent content broadcasted by PBS. Yes, there was still a lot of drinking but it was done with an emphasis on learning how to pair beer with certain foods and appreciating the incredible flavor variations of craft brews.
And what a selection! On tap were such rare brews as Lost Abbey's Bourbon Angels Share; a beer aged in bourbon barrels and normally available only at the Lost Abbey brewery. Drinking it made me realize what Bourbon County was going for. It was absolutely exquisite.
Also on tap was a new brew from Dogfish Head called "Sahtea" which is brewed with black chai and juniper berries. By the time I got to the Dogfish Head booth, there wasn't a drop left, but Dogfish Head Arizona Sales Manager Louis Dolgoff assured me it would be available at Whole Food and AJ's Fine Foods soon. Instead, I had a tiny mug of the Dogfish Head 120 I.P.A., a beer that is twenty percent alcohol by volume. I tell you that so you'll understand that I may still be under its influence when I say that if you haven't had this beer yet, you need to stick a bottle of it down your gob now.
Another brew I had the pleasure of sampling that you should check out: Stone Brewing's Smoked Porter. Utilizing peat-smoked malts this brew has a dry taste to it that I'm told goes very well when paired with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. Beer floats? Yes.
Expect a bit more beer-fueled silliness from the Draft Magazine Craft Beer Festival in this week's Brew Review.