Monday, August 3, 2009

BCTC 2009

I took my first trip to Cooperstown this past weekend, but it had nothing to do with the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead, I went to savor the many fine beers that were being shared at Ommegang Brewery's "Belgium Comes to Cooperstown" festival. This was my first time, and I shared the experience with fellow BFD members Jeff and Pam, and Lyn and Mary Alice. You can see some of Jeff's photos here.

The setting was amazing: tents and campers spread across a big farmers field, all full of beer and beer lovers! A couple thousand strong, we came from all over to share our love of fine beer and to enjoy the August weather. This was sort of a "Beerstock" event, where old acquaintances were renewed and new ones made. The place was full of beer literati, appreciators and homebrewers like me. It was a great opportunity to mix and mingle, and I had breakfast with the editor of Yankee Brew News and shared homebrew at the campfire with Tom of Monks Cafe in Philly, and beer reps and brewers from several breweries. Where else can you do that?

There was actually an organized festival here, and Ommegang did a nice job of it. The main event was a 4 hour beer tasting with great beer from the US, Canada and Belgium. Some of the high points for me:
  • Sly Fox Black Raspberry Reserve - a very nice wheat ale that used fruit puree so the sweetness fermented out and you got a nice, slightly tart fruit flavor over the base beer.
  • Keegan Ales had a really interesting coffee stout, which tasted like coffee. Possibly too sweet for many, I enjoyed it.
  • Allagash Interlude - what can I say--worth the trip!
  • Duvel Green - A very pleasnt Belgian Golden Ale.
The only downside of the event was that a number of the breweries ran out well before the four hour period was up-before half-time! Attendees at BCTC know their beer, and evidently swarmed their favorites, because beers like Kwak, Nostradamus, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and Victory Abbey 6 and Wild Devil were gone, gone, gone!

After the tasting event, things really moved on. Troegs' crew was smoking a pig all day, and that came out and was shared all around. Campfires were lit and beer was poured and shared. I met a group of the folks in the Philly beer scene: Tracy and Whitney from Victory, Susie (the beer lass) from Sly Fox and all sorts of others. It was a really magical evening, and I look forward to doing it again in 2010!

So, those of you that love beer, this is a festival to put on your calendar! I'll see you there!

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