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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Beer on the Bay

beer on the bayIt was glorious day to be outdoors, to be on the water, to enjoy good beer. Under 75°F and sunny skies with a light bay breeze, it was the 6th annual Virginia Beer Festival, held in downtown Norfolk's Town Point Park.

Clipper City Brewing (and I) was there with its Oxford Raspberry Wheat, Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, and Below Decks Barleywine.

I'm not certain of the festival-goer count, but as you can see from the photos, the beer fields were packed. And, if anything, I was impressed by the savy of Tidewater good beer drinkers.

Our one keg of Below Decks, a 10% barleywine (!) was our first keg to be completely drunk. In fact, this keg was from our inaugural batch, brewed in November 2005, and thus now nearly 2 years old. With wonderful notes of sherry and almost a woodiness (although not aged in oak), it had developed deliciously and was dangerously drinkable. My distributor and I discussed this, and although pleased, were puzzled that a major draft house has resisted placing it on draft!

Once the gates were opened and the taps started flowing, it was difficult to make the rounds. But I did meet up with (among many others):
Harry and I had a discussion about a review in Beer Advocate Magazine which had slapped a D- on Big Foot Barleywine. What a ridiculous, insulting, and nonsensical review it was. We had this discussion while sipping on a delicious and brawny 2006 Bigfoot. By the way, Sierra Nevada will be releasing what Harry referred to as a legacy beer in the fall: Anniversary Ale (the brewery's first commercial release was in 1981) - brewed exclusively with Cascade hops.

A few of the other beers I noticed ( and sampled!) were: Victory, Legends, Gordon-Biersch, Oskar Blues, Lancaster, Van Steenberge (Piraat), and Wittekerke.

Rick Uhler (l), GM, Legendary Distributors;
Jason Oliver (r), brewer Gordon-Biersch D.C.

As seems to be the modus operandi of more and more festivals these days, the admission fee ($25) entitled festival-goers to unlimited tasting (with thus no pogs or drink tickets and the consequent long lines in which to buy them). Patrons could, however purchase tickets for pitchers of beer. The organizer was Norfolk Fest Events, Ltd.

Thanks to Clipper City's distributor, Legendary, for doing most of the heavy lifting!

More photos here.

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