Tree House and EBF- Part 1 of Beer-Fest 2015

This past weekend Mags and I went on our first real “beer” trip together and to be honest, it worked out even better than i could have imagined.

tree house

Friday

The original plan was to head to Tree House Friday afternoon, get some growlers, and then head to Boston. I decided to call an audible early Friday morning when I noticed there was only Green can available. Then at 8:50 am this all changed when Good Morning showed up on their tap list.

I have been on a maple syrup kick a little over a year now, ever since I tried Mornin Delight at last year’s EBF. The beer absolutely blew me away, and of course it’s next to impossible to score a bottle, so since then, I have unsuccessfully been searching for substitute. I have even tried adding maple syrup, maple extract, and fenugreek seeds, and aging a beer overnight but nothing even close. It had gotten to the point where I had been researching, and reaching out to Tree House, Funky Buddha, Lawsons, and Kane so I would know what to do for a collaboration beer with my brewing buddies Andrew and Matt.

We arrived at Tree House about 3 hours early to see cars were already lined up. When the snow began to fall, I was a little worried about our chances to make it the full three hours. We hadn’t eaten lunch, were in the middle of nowhere, and I was worried about leaving would cause us to lose our place inline and miss out. We were able to stick it out though as 5pm came soon enough, and we were able to get in and our quickly with our Good Morning growler and Green cans…on to Boston.

We arrived in Boston late Friday night, and went quickly to dinner at a place called “Gather.” Hungry we devoured our meals, only to soon figure out we had been eating bacon, a food which neither of us ever eat. This was followed but us walking around Boston after dinner, thinking we were going to be sick, and then us getting lost and walking in circles.

Saturday

Saturday came soon enough, as we ready for our 2015 EBF experience. The festival ran extremely smoothly, and you would never know there were 3,000 people inside the Seaport convention center. Some beers that stood out included:

  1. Tree House- Good Morning (100/100) – Yes I know, we have a growler, but this was my first stop and my favorite beer at the festival. It is as close to Mornin Delight as you’re going to get. The beer needs to warm a little, providing a coffee forward taste, with a sweet maple syrup taste on the back-end, perfectly balanced.
  2. 4 Hands- Madagascar (98/100) – This beer was the best vanilla beer I’ve had.This was the biggest surprise for me for EBF. There was nobody by the 4 Hands booth. I am assuming that people know the beer, but not the brewery, so when you see 4 Hands, its not synonymous with Madagascar, otherwise this would be a completely different story.
  3. Finback- BA BQE (95/100) – I am hitting myself for not grabbing a bottle of this when I saw it at my local whole foods. This is right up there with the best BA non-adjust beers I’ve had.
  4. Kane- ANTEAD with Coffee (97/100) This was a surprise, I thought they were going to be pouring only the regular ANTEAD, and stumbled upon this as a mistake going for Sunday Brunch. This was right on the same level as the Vanilla, maybe even better which is a lot considering my love for Vanilla adjunct beers.
  5. Kane- Sunday Brunch (96/100) This beer I had been searching for along with GM since Mornin Delight made me fall in love with maple forward beers. I didn’t know this was actually a milk porter, which was my first. The maple flavor was a little more subdued than I would expect, but to be expected with a milk porter as opposed to a stout.

Biggest disappointments of the festival:

1. Framinghammer with Maple Syrup (don’t know if I even spelled that right). I had email JA about six months before about brewing this beer and got crickets. The beer was too sweet, I didn’t taste the maple, it just tasted like sugar. I don’t know whether it was the cask system at NERAX, but something needs to change for this beer because the regular BA Fram is too damn good for this one to be that bad.

2. Breweries that ran out of beer really quickly or tried to play games… I’m looking at you Cigar City and Green Man. Huna ran out in like 15 minutes of the start of the session. i have had Huna before, so not the biggest deal, but for those that haven’t it was a little pathetic when breweries like Funky Buddha had lines that rapped around multiple times, and made it through an hour or two before kicking anything. Then the Green Man Snozzberry. If you are going to put a beer on your list, pour it, don’t play games. I went to their booth twice to ask about Snozzberry, which they listed on BA, but not at their booth. Then about 30 minutes after my second visit, my buddy texts me “They only pour Snozzberry when the woman is wearing a pink shirt.” If you are going to advertise your beer on the list, pour it. People paid money to go and try this beer because it is supposed to be something really good, don’t play games, if you do, don’t put it on the official list.

After the festival we hit up two of the local yet very different bars, Row34 and Meadhall. Row34 was fancy, with top-notch beers and a raw seafood bar. Meadhall was much more low-key, with a large number of beers on tap, and more affordable food options. Overall, it was an awesome weekend. Next up New Hampshire!

photo 2

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