I attended Stoudt’s Microfest benefit this weekend, a craft beer festival hosted by the brewery in my home town. I’ve heard about it for years, but this was the first chance I had to go. Earlier in the week, I had emailed Joe Sixpack and asked if he was covering it. He was away on vacation and said he wouldn’t be able to make so. So, I offered to write something up. He graciously accepted. Yesterday afternoon, I sent him my writeup and he posted it on his blog, Beer Radar.
You can check out the post here, or check it out after the jump. The event itself was a blast and writing about beer was a lot tougher than I was expecting. It’s hard to not come off as an arrogant critic or an alcoholic. At any rate, another huge thank you to Joe Sixpack for the opportunity.
Sampling delicious, craft microbrews for four hours is a lot harder than it sounds. It takes mental dexterity and great physical strength. Only the greatest aficionados manage to sample every beer and most still have a hard time recalling their favorite beer, or where they were, the next morning.
Stoudt’s 17th Annual Microfest Benefit continued the Adamstown microbrewery’s end-of-summer tradition, offering music, a German buffet and craft brews from 14 breweries along the East Coast. Stoudt’s hosted an afternoon and evening session. The afternoon event undoubtedly had a better selection that was more accurate to the listings ahead of time, but the evening event, that I attended, had a more appropriate nighttime drinking atmosphere and more jovial brewery reps who looked like they played a big part in kicking a lot of the afternoon’s kegs.
As with previous years’ Microfest offerings, the event really was all about the beers. The German-style buffet was plentiful and tasted good, but fairly limited in scope. It was still easy to chow down on cheese and andouille sausage after an hour or so of sampling. The Grateful Dead-plus cover band, Born Crossed Eyed, also got better four ounces at a time.
Not to be outdone at their own event, Stoudt’s offered three relatively unknown drafts. Headlining that list was the Organic Kolsch, which had a light, smooth flavor and crisp aftertaste ideal for a late-summer evening. Following that same logic, the stoudt and porter offerings were pretty slim. It makes sense – who wants to taste 30 oatmeal stoudts in one night? The exception was New Holland Brewing Company’s The Poet, which ended up being a welcome change from the onslaught of pilsners, IPAs and, surprisingly, pumpkin ales.
This was my first Microfest and my first sampling event like it. I obviously love beer and have been a huge Stoudt’s fan for a long time, but being able to talk to all types of brewers was an experience I’d never had before – if only the band would have toned it down a bit to make conversation a bit easier. It was great to compare flavorful beer after flavorful beer, without having to worry about price or switching to Lager halfway through the night.
Stoudt’s pulled in a lot of breweries from the area, including Springhouse Brewing from Conestoga, Iron Hill Brewery from Lancaster and the relative newcomer, Union Barrel Brewing from Reinholds. Union Barrel has feuded with Stoudt’s in the past and wasn’t included in the advertising list, but offered up a decent Maybock and traditional Hefeweizen anyway.
If nothing else, Microfest was a great warm-up for Stoudt’s October 16 Microfest event that features many more Philly brewers, including Yards and PBC. The Dixie Jug Band traditionally offers better, low key background music – it was pretty tough to talk about the beers over Saturday night’s music. I’ve learned my lesson going into the next event: Taste the beers you want to remember early – sample number 23 tastes a lot like sample number 24.