Western Massachusetts brewers to take part in American Craft Beer Fest

Date: 5/31/2011

May 30, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

I must say that I am very excited to be able to attend this year's American Craft Beer Fest (ACBF) in Boston, sponsored by BeerAdvocate and Harpoon Brewery.

With more than 100 craft brewers featuring nearly 500 beer selections from around the country all in one location, the ACBF, which will take place at the Seaport Trade Center, offers a unique opportunity for those interested in the vastly expanding world of brewing to not only sample, but talk to those who create the beer.

What's especially exciting is the fact that several Western Massachusetts breweries will have the chance to gain further national exposure.

Among the companies west of Worcester that will be featured are a few I have done columns on in the past, including Opa Opa Steakhouse and Brewery in Southampton, Paper City Brewery and High and Mighty Beer Company, both of Holyoke, and Berkshire Brewing Company (BBC) of South Deerfield.

Other Western Massachusetts representatives are Amherst Brewing Company, Element Brewing Company of Millers Falls, Pioneer Brewing Company of Sturbridge and Wandering Star Brewing Company of Pittsfield.

It's a truly exciting time for craft brewers, as the ACBF comes on the heels of American Craft Beer Week, which was from May 16 to 22 and featured a multitude of events across the country.

The ACBF will feature three sessions — June 3 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.; June 4 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and from 6 to 9:30 p.m. — at which attendees will be able to try two-ounce samples from breweries from Maine to California and learn more about what makes each one unique.

Tickets are $45 — cash only — and may be purchased at the door. Unfortunately, there are currently no local ticket outlets for the event. However, if you happen to be in the Boston area, you can purchase tickets at three Boston locales — The Harpoon Brewery's tasting room on Northern Avenue, The Lower Depths on Commonwealth Avenue, and Bukowski Tavern on Dalton Street — as well as the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont and Kappy's Fine Wine & Spirits in Malden.

For more information and a complete list of participating breweries, check the ACBF Web site, http://beer advocate.com/acbf.

In honor of this event, I decided to sample a beer from one of the local breweries that will be at the ACBF, so I picked up a BBC bottle that I had never tried before — the Saint of Circumstance India Pale Ale (IPA).

Unfortunately, it does not appear that this is one of the beers BBC will be taking to the ACBF, as it is a limited release that, according to their blog, is "something that if we even tried we could not perfectly duplicate."

The label claimed that this was a brew they put together in an attempt to simulate what an IPA would have been like in the 1800s.

Well, let's just say that if they're right, I'd like to find a time machine post haste.

The Saint of Circumstance is a very attractive beer to look at when poured into a glass with a beautiful amber color and a light, white head. When you bring it to your lips you can smell what is almost a flowery scent, mixed with a bit of citrus.

Unlike a lot of IPAs, which are chocked so full of hops that you almost feel like your tongue is getting punched with bitterness, the Saint of Circumstance offers a more subtle dose of hoppy bitterness, coupled with some citrus and a grassy taste and texture that adds a great deal of character. On the back end, it finishes crisp and clean.

At 5.7 percent alcohol by volume, this beer proved to find great balance all the way around. Great hops without being too overpowering, grassy undertones without tasting gristly and the perfect amount of alcohol.

What's more, I was able to pick up two 22-ounce bottles of this beer for a mere $8 after bottle deposit. This one won't be around long and may never be seen again, so make sure to grab one now. Or you can start helping me look for that time machine.

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