Mohave County Beer Festival – Year Five

We arrived at Mohave Count Fairgrounds punctually.  The sun shades were placed on the dash and windows rolled down fractionally as our group debouched from the car.  The sun was far from shy on this hot Saturday afternoon.  With temperature was in the mid to low 90s we were anticipating a few hours of good beer.  It didn’t take long to present our admission tickets and get our sampling tickets and then we were inside the Fairgrounds for the fifth Mohave County Beer Festival.

There were six of us.  A variety of perspectives. A variety of tastes. Alas for you, readers, you only get mine.

My imbibing began at the Black Bridge booth. Because local.

Poppin’ Cherries. Black Bridge Brewery
This is Stout Chocula with cherry extract added.  It’s dark and, surprisingly, seemed undercarbonated.   A function of temp?  Ah, well, it did not adversely impact the beer.  The cherry flavor is not domineering making this a sessionable stout, I feel, that doesn’t completely fill you up.   I would be back to the B3 tent throughout the afternoon.

Cucumber Sour. 10 Barrel Brewing
10 Barrel had two beers available, both sours.  I am not sure what drew me to the cucumber rather than the raspberry.  The beer is like a vegan tart.  The cucumber flavor hits right away,  and then the sour chases it off like a jaded spouse.  It’s not picklish, as one might suspect (it’s a thought I harbored, briefly).  It’s a salad with an attitude. Very refreshing for the summer, actually.

Redlands Red. Hangar 24
It’s red. Dry and IPA like. Bready finish.

Mariner Double IPA. College Street
This was offered at the Rickety Cricket brewery’s booth.  It is another Kingman brewery due to open in the downtown area.  Alas, they had none of their own beers to sample.  The owner mentioned that they are heavily involved in construction.  Still, I would have liked to have tried their creations.  Beer first, I told him, everything else will follow.  But I understand they are busy.  Next year they should be there.

So, on to the Mariner … it is very, very, dry with a strong malt presence and no hops aroma evident.  Interesting for an IPA.  I was told there was apricot, but I believe a server was confused.  No apricot.  Tough beer.

Trip in the Woods. Sierra Nevada
Holy fantastic, Beerman.  So, this was not the usual Sierra Nevada conglomeration of hops.  The light brown body had caramel and vanilla from oak barrel aging.  Really good!  It’s nominated for Favorite Beer of Fest.

Breakside IPA. Breakside Brewery

Well done.  No fruit.  Straight, dankish IPA.

Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Belching Beaver
Not as weird as you might think upon first hearing the name. Peanut butter is evident but not dominant. Medium body. Worth a second round.  Nominee for Favorite Beer of Fest.

Sunbru.  Four Peaks
Kolsch.  Still good, but … AmBev.  Or AB Inbev.  Whatever that giant conglomerate is called.

Hollywood Blondie. Golden Road
Whoa.  Okay, I love Belgians (fine, their beer; I don’t personally know any Belgians).  But this version, this was hard.  Hard to drink.  It was like expired vinegar.  Old, wooden, musty, wrong.  I honestly could not drink the whole thing.

Selene Saison. Victory Brewing
Victory Brewing has been around the craft world for a while; I’ve heard the name and always associated it with good things.  They are now part of Artisanal Brewing Ventures.  So that’s private equity.  Kinda like what Dogfish Head is doing.  I do not know a great deal about the business structure but Selene Saison was utterly beautiful.  A dark, roasty saison with a little funk and a little smoke. That heavily roasted characters wraps around the rye it seems and gives it a bacon characteristic.  I don’t even like rye.  But I do for this beer.  Another nomination for Favorite Beer of Fest.

Tart Ten was another offering from Victory and it was good and all, but no Selene.

What else can be said about this year’s beer festival?  It had better music.  The Swillers were the featured band.  They have good energy and play the crowd really well. Good range of music. Their interpretations are fast and eclectic and approachable. Gotta love it.  The food was meh.  There is a lot of opportunity to improve in the food vendor arena.

It didn’t seem as populated this year, either, and last year I noted that the crowd was down from the previous year. I have no statistics to bear this out, just my impressions. I now want said stats since that seems to be a bad trend. It wasa fairly quiet crowd that did not ebb and flow in noise and population as last year.

Also, aside from the Black Bridge group it didn’t seem that there were any other brewers on site.  It was all just volunteers from the area serving bottled or canned offerings.  No kegs, no cool side-of-the-booth chinwags with other brewers.  Seems like a bad trend.

Well, anyway … here’s what everyone’s been waiting for … Bottled Roger’s Favorite Beer of Fest …

Let’s recap the nominees:

  • Trip In the Woods
  • Peanut Butter Milk Stout
  • Selene Saison

The clear and unequivocal winner was … Selene Saison.


Made In the Shade Beer Festival

The wife and I arrived around noon at the Cocnino Fairgrounds in Flagstaff, AZ. It was June 22nd, a clear, warm, sunny day in Flagstaff, with a few gusts of wind – the same gusts that have been plaguing us here in Kingman. I was distressed that they followed us to our getaway. We checked in and stood around for an hour waiting for the gates to open, watching the crowd pour in and mingle like CO2 bubbles in a pint glass, smelling ribs and pulled pork being prepped. A few tents were visible from our vantage; New Belgium, Lagunitas, Four Peaks. I was antsy, ready to spend our 48 tickets and fill our 4 oz tasting cups at the Made in the Shade beer festival.

When the gates did open the crowd filed in deliberately, politely, in subdued anticipation. I kept looking for the namesake shade. It only existed under some canopies in less than strategic spots. Outside of that you were the sun’s fair game. But, whatever,there was beer everywhere.

At first I planned on making a circuitous route starting at the first station, which happened to be Four Peaks, and finishing at Lagunitas, which was the closest to the gates. I quickly discovered that there was way more beer there than even I, The Rog, could drink. So the strategy changed to finding the beers and breweries I had never sampled. I had also planned on taking tasting notes for each beer. While I did have a pen and notecards it was difficult to write while holding a beer cup and tickets. So what follows are just a few, brief highlights of my favorites.

Desert Eagle – Mesa, Arizona
A this tent I sampled Red Mountain Ale. It looked dark for a red and was very malty – like Whoppers, the candy. Strangely thick and chocolatey for a red. They did have a cool Arizona Craft Beer Road Map which lists a variety of breweries in Arizona. Good job for promoting beer!

Wanderlust – Flagstaff, Arizona
Love the breweries in Flag! Their Pan American Stout was awesome! Burnt wood, charred vanilla, one of the best stouts ever. I could have spent the entire festival drinking this. Another offering was Chateau Americana.  It is a corrupted Belgian, with hops, but still good – a little clean but some Belgian character under that pale al.

Goose Island – Chicago, IL
Yes, they were recently bought out by the evil corporate Budweiser thing. I couldn’t help myself.  The first beer I sampled was Sofie Paradisi.  It had an incredible citrus flavor.  It was four ounces of summer, like being poolside, sweltering, but enjoying every minute of the scenery and the sounds.  Then, at 2 pm they tapped Bourbon County Stout.  There’s no hint of bourbon flavor in this stout.  No, the bourbon is about all you notice, it just knocks you out.  My wife loved Sofie and the first things she said about this stout was, “Where’s the pancakes?”  Yeah, some intense sweetness in that thing.

Pints – Laughlin, Nevada
Formerly home of the Boiler Room, a brewery dear to my heart, Pints is relatively close to us. I haven’t had the heart to go sample it since the former brewery closed.  The Boiler Room took lots of my money and lots of my weekend time years ago; they had a gorgeous red for which my friends and I were insatiable.  So I was actually happy to have a chance to try their beers.  The American hefeweizen was dry, too dry.   The appearance was right but the taste left something to be desired. But man can that place make a red.  Pints offers Rehab Red a finely balanced, glistening delight.  It doesn’t match the memory of the old red, but it might be worth another trip.

Bad Water – Scottsdale, Arizona
These guys seemed a little sure of themselves – but they are from Scottsdale!  They have only one beer, which isn’t a bad way to start, I guess.  Work it to perfection.  Their experiment is a saison. I love that style so was anxious to try this one.  It seemed a little weak, kind of watery, not enough farmy spice and tang. But keep brewing!  I’ll keep tasting!

Sierra Nevada – Chico, California
I can’t stop myself from going to their tent. I know their beers, their style.  Just can’t stop.  So I tried Bigfoot again. My craft beer geek side says like it because it’s touted as the ‘greatest American barleywine’ – but I can’t.  The hops are just too much.  It’s a harsh, overstated beer.  That being said, at 2:30 I stood in line for the tapping of Hoptimum. Oh, you don’t think they had enough hops in Bigfoot and all their other beers? Well, this one makes up for it.  Monster.

We also chatted for a bit with the owners and operators of a pending brewery, Mother Bunch Brew.  Their brewery isn’t open yet (neither is the website) but they hope to be running about this time next year in Phoenix.  Hope all goes well for them – I’ll be looking for their beers at the next beer fest.