2012 American Craft Beer Fest Recap

To say my first American Craft Beer Festival was overwhelming would be a severe understatement. However to also say it was one of the coolest festivals I have attended would be right right on the money.

Friday June 1 I went down to Boston with Sean from @2Beerguys but since he was working the festival I found myself in my first “all alone” beer fest since I started going to them. In preparation, the night before I listed all of the beers from Brewers I have never had. After picturing myself trying that amount of samples I narrowed the list down to some heavy hitters. While that list was still to big I thought I had a pretty solid plan. Little did I know what ACBF has in store.

Let’s Do This

When the doors opened the line was easily 500 long and I was about 30th in line. I raced over to try the spiciest beer at the fest (in the world?), Twisted Pine‘s Ghost Face Killah. I love spicy food and this beer was brewed with ghost chillies so this was indeed right up my alley. After that intense beer I settled in and became one with the crowd.

I followed somewhat of a plan to begin with, hitting some breweries’ booths I haven’t tasted. As the night went on I started noticing long lines but they weren’t where I was expecting them to be. I would think in a festival that brings beers from places not available in MA that those breweries would be the ones with the long lines. No way Jose. Western, Mass brought their A-Team.

Western MA

As many of you know I hail from Belchertown, MA and out of the entire festival the thing that brought me the most joy was not the Goose Island Coffee Stout (so damn good) and was not Duck Rabbit Milk Stout (another 5 star beer), it was the amount of support being shown for the breweries of my home town area.

The longest line from what I saw on Friday and what I heard all day Saturday went to Amherst Brewing Company. They had a strong list of beers at the fest and it kept people coming back for more. I speak highly of these guys because they make good beer and they bring a ton of passion to the industry and it shows by their presence at ACBF.

It was great to see High Horse show up, who just opened up this year, as well as Brewmaster Jack from Northampton who just started brewing as well. There is no better stage for a Massachusetts brewer to showcase their beer like the ACBF.

Local Love

Once my plan went out the window I made sure to swing by my other favorite area breweries:

  • Redhook Brewing – Portsmouth, NH
    • Best booth award for their “man cave” set up. They were also showcasing their new beer, American Independence Ale.
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company – Portsmouth, NH
    • The Double-Take award goes to Smuttynose, who had Paul from the Finest Kind IPA label at the booth.
  • Rising Tide Brewing Company – Portland, ME
    • I can’t wait for their new brewery to be operational. Which is soon!
  • Throwback Brewery – Northampton, NH
    • This goes without saying. Great beer, and they brought their Bohemian Pils!
  • Bull Jagger Brewing Company – Portlan, ME
    • Another first timer to the fest and they made a big impression. Glad I got to try their newest addition to their line.
  • Peak Organic Brewery – Portland, ME
    • You can’t keep me away from their beer. Especially their Hop Noir.
  • Martha’s Exchange – Nashua, NH
    • Right next to Prodigal during the fest and really nice guys serving awesome beer. Expect to see them at the next Portsmouth Beer Week!
  • Prodigal – Effingham, NH
    • Rockstar not just of the NH brewing scene, but of the US brewing scene. Listening to his stories and experiences was on of the highlights of the night for me. Check out his interview from the fest below.

I didn’t want to make a post about every beer I tried at the fest as it’s not super valuable to you. You can make all the plans in the world for a festival but appreciating the experience and those brewers who are truly doing big things in the industry is what makes ACBF an excellent experience. There is always next ACBF to try other beers and I will definitely be attending again. For those going next year for their first ACBF experience I highly recommend bringing a fest buddy with you otherwise you may find yourself being a pinball the whole night between all of the booths. Congrats to the Alstrom brothers and all of the volunteers on organizing another excellent event!

Til next year. Cheers!