Thursday, April 25, 2013

Best of the fest: Untapped's pivotal pours

Image credit:  Paste Magazine, Lakewood Brewing Co., Community Beer Co., Oskar Blues, (512) Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co.

For reasons we don't need to get into, this past weekend was my first experience of what may become known as the Untapped phenomenon.  Lines were manageable, facilities ample and there was plenty of good beer to be had.  Outside of that, honestly, I didn't pay a lick of attention to the bands or food trucks.  All I cared about was my 24 ounce tasting card.

As such, we'll dispense with any formalities and move right on through to the pivotal pours (IMHO) of Untapped, Spring 2013.

Like shooting fish in a bourbon barrel

Barrel-aged beers were abundant. Yet, for all the talk about "white whale" beers like Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Firestone Walker Parabola and Green Flash Silva Stout, it was Oskar Blues Barrel Aged Ten Fidy that had me hooked.  Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla and a gentle, but prominent barrel character came together seamlessly in this tasteful treatment of the brewery's impy stout staple.

Rare breeds

Among casks and specialty one-offs, Stone's deeply herbal, almost minty 16th Anniversary Ale with Green Tea Leaves was a clear standout.  Another was the (512) Cabernet Tripel.  Going in, considering the full-bodied nature of the wine and the delicate balance of flavors in the base beer, I was expecting a tannic mess.  Thankfully it wasn't that way at all, as the barrel flavors proved to be a near perfect complement to the fruity esters of the Belgian yeast.  As for some others, I had high hopes, but they went up in smoke.

Hops on board

In case you haven't noticed, Mosaic and Citra hop additions are all the rage.  Community's Mosaic IPA was a nice example utilizing the first of the two, but my far and away favorite was Lakewood Till & Toil, which employed both of these hip hop varieties.  Bright grapefruit, along with earthy tropical fruits and a peppery kick from the yeast practically screamed refreshment.  Sometimes I talk about how a beer drinks like the style guidelines, but in this case Till & Toil drinks like the hop flavor profiles.  I wonder if the Hop Growers of America are looking for a spokesbeer?


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