Last year our first Cask Days beer festival was a revelation. So many amazing beer, at such a well-run event, made us incredulous that we’d never been to one. For the past 11.5 months we’d looked forward to the 2015 installment.
We just got home from #caskdays2015, and the fact that I can type probably tells you that it was a little less epic than last year’s. Granted, there was no post-festival Wvrst bottle tour like last year’s, but still. It wasn’t quite as epic as last year’s maiden voyage.
I mean, sure, there was great beer and excellent food, and it was almost shockingly well-run. But here was my major disappointment: they were holding back so much beer that I couldn’t try half of what I really wanted. This is what I tried, and what I tried to try:
Burdock Peach & Apricot Berliner Weisse Niagara Oast Dr. Lychee Gose Nuts Gose
- Niagara Oast Verjus Fruit Sour Ale
- Dunham Saison du Pinacle Farmhouse Ale w. Fireweed Flowers
Indie Alehouse Maple Cinnamon Belgian Wit
- Stone City Ales Devil and the Deep American Sour
- Parallel 49 Bodhisattva Dry Hopped Sour Ale
- Community Beer Works Frank APA
- Dunham APA w. Habanero Pepper
- Macleod Ale Jackie Tar Brown Stout
- Dieu Du Ciel Tamarindo German Gose
- Left Field Bricks & Mortar Porter w. Pilot Roaster Coffee
Great Lakes x Bar Hop Sweet Zombie Jesus Milk Stout w. Peanut Butter Sawdust City Damn!!!!!!! Spicy Peanut Butter Imperial Stout
- Wellington Buggin’ Out Cab Franc Barrel Aged Sour Ale
Ladyface Companie Ballista Imperial Grisette Aged in Viognier Barrels Amsterdam El Jaguar Barrel Aged Imperial Stout w. Chocolate & Chilies Howe Sound “Smoked” Pumpkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale w. Rum, Cacao & Vanilla House Ales Mezza Notte Espresso Milk Stout
So, yeah. Literally the first two beers I wanted were sold out. Or, rather, they were being “held back” for later sessions. I get that they’re trying to keep enough around for everyone, but I tried to get those two within seconds of entering the building, and I checked back a few times, so they were NEVER available for our session. That’s brutal.
Just before 5pm I went hunting for my 11th and final beer, and my last four choices were all off-limits. I gave up and ate some fried chicken instead.
So I ended up drinking a lot of sour beer on the day, which was fine, and one or two of them were tremendous (the Parallel 49 and Stone City especially), but GOD I wanted a heavy stout toward the end.
Frankly, the shot of espresso (from Boxcar Social) and fried chicken (from Brando’s fried chicken) were two of the best things I had all day, and the food program in general looked killer, so kudos to the festival for that. Also: military precision on the porta-potty line.
What I took from this, though, is that a) the Friday night session is the only good one, and everything else is a poor cousin; and b) you have to buy your way into one of the premium packages to get decent beer. I guess I’ll keep that in mind for next year, and see whether the price is justified.