This year I went in with a crazy new plan: not tasting any beer I already know I like. I have to save up, right? There's only so much beer a gal can drink.
brewery, name of beer, style, description from program book, rating, notes.
Abbaye de Leffe: Leffe Blonde, Belgian pale ale. "smooth and fruity with a spicy aftertaste of bitter orange." 5. Very smooth, refreshing, akin to a Belgian white.
Abita Brewing Co.: Andygator, helles doppelbock. "dry finish with a slightly sweet flavor and subtle fruit aroma." 3. It's doppelbocky, but somehow odd.
Atwater Block Brewery: Vanilla Java Porter, robust porter. "made with chocolate malt, blended with vanilla and Java coffee beans." 4. As advertised, there's vanilla and coffee flavor. Kind of like drinking espresso with a shot of vanilla.
Aviator Brewing Co. Didn't get to try the Devil's Tramping Ground tripel because they were out. The brewery's just over in Fuquay (pronounced few-kway), so I could go try it there.
B. Nektar Meadery: a) Vanilla cinnamon mead, "light clover honey, then aged on American oak with whole vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks." 4+. I love cinnamon, and I love vanilla. This is awesome.
b) Orange blossom mead, made with orange blossom honey. 3. Kind of like orange flower water.
c) Wildberry pyment. "made with shiraz grapes, clover honey, and natural strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry flavor." 2. The wine grapes are what did this in for me. Tasted like wine, yuck.
Brasserie Lefebvre: Blanche de Bruxelles, Witbier. 5. If you like Hoegaarden, you'll like this. Very refreshing and balanced.
Breckenridge Brewery: Agave Wheat, fruit beer. "American style unfiltered wheat ... [with] Salmana Agave." 4. The fruity flavor was a bit odd, but it was still drinkable. I think I like their Vanilla Porter better.
Deschutes Brewery: Black Butte Porter. "slight hop bitterness up front enhances the distinctive chocolate and roasted finish." 2. I think I'm figuring out what I don't like in some porters, and it seems to be ones that have more hops in them.
Foothills Brewing: People's Porter. English-style robust porter. "Firm unsweetened chocolate flavor with moderate notes of caramel and toffee, an herbal hop bitterness up front." 2. See above re hoppy porters. The label art is a socialist realism homage.
Heavy Seas Beer: Yule Tide 2009. Belgian Tripel. "slightly sweet with a complex malty flavor." 4. For a tripel, it wasn't too heavy.
Huske Hardware House Brewing Co.: Sledgehammer Stout. "An imperial oatcreme stout ... finished with lactose for extra body." 3. I think this was more like a porter than I prefer.
North Coast Brewing Co.: Brother Thelonius, Belgian dark strong ale. 3. I don't remember much about this one. It was heavy. The label art depicts Thelonius Monk.
Roth Brewing: a) FoeHammer, Barleywine. "well-hopped, heavily-bodied beer ... sports hints of toffee and apricot." 2. I'm not a fan of barleywine in general. The crew wore plastic Viking hats.
b) Forgotten Hollow, cinnamon porter. I didn't try this at the festival, but I had it at the Flying Saucer the other week. 4. It's got a huge cinnamon flavor. If that appeals to you, give it a try.
Samuel Smith: Taddy Porter. "very dark porter, fairly full in body." 4. This is most of the way to a stout.
St Martin: St Martin Brune, Belgian strong ale. "Sweet caramel flavor, some molasses and fruit with Belgian spice notes." 3. I had a sip of Ben's, but I don't remember much about it.
Starr Hill Brewery: Dark Starr Stout. Dry stout. "pours like velvet and drinks like a slice of grandma's pumpernickel bread." 2. Too bitter.
Thomas Creek Brewery: Dirty Monk. Belgian porter. Not listed in the program. 2. Too hoppy.
Top of the Hill: Old Well White. 4. It's not Hoegaarden, but it'll do. [For those not in the know, TOPO is in Chapel Hill, and their beers are all named for local/University landmarks and people.]
Triangle Brewing Co.: Belgian-style Golden Ale. "complex mouthfeel, strong malt flavors, spicy hop presence and soothing alcohol warmth." 3. I think I prefer their white ale.
Unibroue Brewery: Maudite. Belgian dark strong ale. "aroma of wild spices and floral hop notes. It is spicy vinous, and deliciously complex." 4-. This was an end of the evening try. I think it was OK.
Weeping Radish: Peachy Keen, Kölsch. This wasn't listed in the program book, but the brewer told me it was a Kölsch with peach essence. I don't like the Kölsch style, but this was OK: very fruity. 4. [I wanted to try Black Radish, but they didn't have it.]
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.: Merry Monks. Belgian tripel. 4.
I look forward to next year!