I made a concerted effort to make this year’s Bonnaroo an experience loaded not only with music, but beer. I used the opportunity of 4 days of music to get more familiar with some of the nation’s more popular craft beers and a few local favorites. Here’s a list of all the varieties I managed to try over the weekend (click the links for geographical info and reviews from BeerAdvocate.com! Registration not required but useful for further searching.):
Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
Bell’s Oberon Ale
Big Boss Bad Penny Brown Ale
Brooklyn Brown Ale
Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55
Flying Dog Garde Dog
New Belgium 1554 Black Ale
New Belgium Fat Tire
New Belgium Skinny Dip Ale
Saranac Adirondack Lager
Saranac Black and Tan
Saranac Black Forest
Saranac Brown Ale
Saranac Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
Sierra Nevada Brown Saison
Starr Hill The Love Hefeweizen
Some of these were so good, I had more than one (wink)! Most of this was consumed from bottles, but the Starr Hill and Sierra Nevada selections were on tap. As far as ratings and favorites, I am absolutely in love with almost every beer I have tried from Brooklyn and New Belgium Breweries. You can make a day out of the different styles – Skinny Dip in the afternoon, Fat Tire in the evening, and 1554 at night, or a Brooklyn day of Pennant Ale and Lager followed by a Brooklyn night of Brown Ale.
The Love is one of my new favorites, and having it on tap at Bonnaroo was the icing on a fantastic weekend on all fronts. The Sierra Nevada selections were provided on tap by the very nice folks from the brewery who were camped near our home base. Bigfoot is not for the squeamish – it grabs you firmly by the throat. The Brown was simply delectable, and more of a straight-up brown (with several thrilling embellishments) than a Saison.
Bell’s is slowly becoming my favorite brewery. Oberon is becoming a universally loved drink at this point, and Two-Hearted is one of the most impressive beers I have tasted. Both beers have started to appear at more and more chain grocery stores across the nation, and it’s well-deserved recognition.
Speaking of deserving more recognition, I have to give some to Big Boss. It’s probably the best brewing outfit in my area, and Bad Penny is quickly spreading to bars in the triangle and beyond. It’s best enjoyed one or two at a time, and makes for a great nightcap, even serving as a dessert at one point during Bonnaroo. The prominent but not overwhelming chocolate flavors found in Bad Penny make it a unique local choice in North Carolina.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first Bier de Garde thanks to the Flying Dog Garde Dog, and I think I’ll be seeking out more options in that style as well. Saranac was my least favorite, but not bad and a steal at $5.99 a six-pack. It was tolerable and even enjoyable at times, especially the black and tan and Black Forest.
Well, there it is, the first food and drink post on my blog! Look for many more to come from me and – hopefully – guest writers!