Monday, June 21, 2010

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ...What More Does a Girl Need?

This weekend my husband and I attended the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival at the National Harbor in Maryland.  For the price of admission, we got a free tasting glass that allowed us to sample as much beer and bourbon as we wanted, a barbeque pork dinner, and generous tastings of roasted whole pigs.

I have to admit we were completely overwhelmed upon entry into the festival.  It seemed as though every where we turned there was food and drink we wanted to consume.  A quick lap around the perimeter helped us develop a plan and we soon settled into to enjoy ourselves for the next several hours.

It was great fun to sample beers and bourbons that we had not yet seen in any of our favorite alcohol establishments.  We made it a goal to focus our initial efforts on beverages we had never tasted before while the taste buds could still focus.  Our only complaint is that there were not more brewers or distillers on hand to answer questions or pitch their products.  We did have enjoyable conversations with Rick Wasmund from Copper Fox Distillery and Mike Kennedy from Evolution Craft Brewing.  In my mind, however, the festival staff and festival exhibitors missed a great opportunity to interact with serious booze hounds in a fun, relaxed environment.

Now for for a few tasting highlights...

Brew Dog Punk IPA - This IPA was paler in color and sweeter in taste than I expected.  It was a great thirst quencher at the hot and steamy festival.  The flavor was lemony, grassy, with maybe a hint of pineapple.  The hops are there, but not in your face.

McSorley's Pale Ale - This had a much lighter flavor than the copper color would make you believe.  Easy to drink, it has a very subtle fruity flavor and scent.  I think the dark ale is the way to go, however for more flavor.

Evolution's IPA - I thought it was the best this Delaware brewery had to offer at the festival.  Agressively hoppy and citrusy, it had a nice floral scent and a good looking amber color.  It was a great beer to pair with the spicy pork barbeque.

Russell's Reserve 10 year - This was an excellent bourbon.  Its complex toffee-like flavor was warmed by vanilla undertones and just a bit of bite and maybe a little orange.  It was a pretty amber color and was smooth on the tongue.  Both my husband and I enjoyed this a lot.

Copper Fox Rye Whiskey - A new offering from Wasmund's Copper Fox, it starts with the same fruitwood scent and flavor as his single malt, and in fact includes some of his malted barley.  Strong and earthy, we enjoyed it best with a splash of water.

Booker's - This was a lovely sipping bourbon.  Smoky vanilla and oak flavors that finished clean on the tongue.  It was a wonderful balance between strong and smooth, and had no bitterness.  An expensive bottle, I will save future glasses for special occasions.

Baker's - Another intensely flavored, but smooth bourbon.  Maybe a bit more carmel and nutty flavors than the Booker's...I think it would be great as an after-dinner drink.

We tried many, many more than this, but I no longer trusted my taste buds or my taste memory at a certain point, so for honesty's sake they are not included in this entry.  We were joined by our friends Wendy and Dave who enjoyed the festival as designated drivers.  We had fun with them and appreciated their willingness to keep us safe.

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