Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Craftsteak (Mashantucket, CT/Foxwoods Resort Casino)

I was really excited to try Craftsteak, one of the Craft family of restaurants owned by celebrity chef (and "head judge" of Bravo's Top Chef franchise) Tom Colicchio, and arguably the flagship restaurant of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods; sadly, I ended up a little disappointed by the food.  That is not to say that the food was bad, or even mediocre; in fact, it was quite good, but when eating at a restaurant owned by someone who is supposed to be among the masters of the steak world, I really expected something transcendent.

The bar at Craftsteak
I sat at the bar, which, while dimly lit, is a pretty decent atmosphere to grab a drink or a bite to eat if you do not feel it necessary to sit in a fancy dining room; there is a flat screen television in the middle of it that was playing the Red Sox game, and the chairs are relatively comfortable.  The darkness wasn't a huge problem for me,  but if you don't have good eyes, it probably would be a bit too dark to easily read the menu; I can guarantee that my grandparents would not be able to read in that light.

Spinach salad with bacon and blue cheese
I went with the prix fixe menu, which includes a salad, a choice of two entrees, and a choice of two desserts.  The salad, consisting primarily of spinach, was the highlight of the meal, with cubes of crispy bacon a centimeter across, some Bayley Hazen blue cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, and some kind of delicious dressing that I could not quite identify.  The bacon was spectacular, salty and succulent, and the cheese was great, with a sweeter taste than most blues, but with that classic flavor you associate with the variety.  There were also balls of what I think may have been confit pearl onions, which were pretty tasty, as well as some hard-boiled egg that did not really add anything.  This was a good example of what a salad can be; not something you eat just because you need some green vegetables, but a legitimately good, major part of a meal.  With the salad came a small skillet of "Parker House" rolls, which are pretty boring with the exception of the fleur de sel sprinkled over the top.

The entrees were a Scottish Salmon with spring garlic and fava beans or a Filet Mignon with black garlic and confit potatoes.  Figuring it was a steakhouse, I went with the filet; it was a pretty big
Filet Mignon with black garlic and confit potatoes
piece, considering the $45 price of the prix fixe, and it was reasonably well cooked, but for some reason, they slice it for you!  I do not get this; why would you take a beautiful piece of meat and cut it into pieces?  It makes the filet look terrible on the plate, like it has been mangled, and does not add anything to it as far as enjoying the meal.  That said, it tasted fine, though it was a little chewy for a filet; I do not know if this is an issue with the quality of the meat or what, but it was nowhere near as good texturally as the filet at David Burke Prime.  The potatoes were great, as was that black sauce you can see drizzled around the plate, but that was not enough to make up for the fact that the filet was lacking.

Raspberry Rosé and Mango sorbets
The dessert options are a Chocolate Espresso Tart or two scoops of your selection from a dozen or so ice creams or sorbets.  I went with the Raspberry Rosé and Mango sorbets, which were both good, but the mango far, far outstripped the raspberry.  The raspberry was a little bit too tart, giving me a pretty nasty canker sore, but the mango was spectacular, probably the best sorbet I have had in many years, and equal to most ice creams.  It was similar in texture to a good gelato, though clearly without the same level of fat content, which was fine with me.

Mystic Bridge IPA
With the meal I had the Mystic Bridge IPA, one of four beers on tap, from Cottrell Brewing Company, a Connecticut brewery that has some pretty well regarded beers on BeerAdvocate, including this one.  I was not paying a huge amount of attention to the beer, quite honestly, focusing more on the food, but it was quite good, a really solid IPA, though admittedly it did not stand out to me.  I would love to pick up a six pack of it to really get a better idea of where its strong and weak points are.

Overall, it seems like the restaurant makes an effort to keep things relatively local where they can, including the beers, the cheese, and some other produce.  This is a distinct positive in my mind, but at the same time, if they cannot make the overall quality of the meal stand up to that of the ingredients, then it is a waste.  I would absolutely choose Burke Prime over Craftsteak if I were eating at Foxwoods, and it would not be a difficult decision at all.


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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sweetfern Farm and Rutland Farm Day (Rutland, MA)

One of the things I love about living in rural Massachusetts is the incredible abundance of farms, most of them small and family owned.  Rutland, which is a small town northwest of Worcester in central MA, has not only a large number of farms, but also a large number of very different types of farms.  These run the gamut from a farm selling Angus beef, to an Alpaca farm, to a farm owned by Heifer International.  Every year, the town sponsors a "Rutland Farm Day," and this year, its fifth, featured 17 farms all over town.

A few lambs
I went primarily because one of the featured farms, Sweetfern Farm, is owned by a friend of mine from college (who was also one of the first readers of this blog), and the farm is a great place to spend a little time relaxing, enjoying the countryside, and of course, enjoying some adorable baby animals. Sweetfern Farm at the moment sells fresh eggs, a product that so vastly outstrips the flavor and quality of store bought eggs that it is hardly even comparable, and by the end of the year is planning to sell seasonal vegetables, broiler chickens, turkeys, yarn/fleece from their ever growing flock of Shetland sheep, and if they quit naming the lambs, hopefully some delicious, tender lamb at some point.  Fresh honey is also on the list for this fall.

One of the goats

 The animals range from hilariously loud and needy (one sheep literally would push her head through the fence every time I got near until I would pet her) to tiny and adorable (the lambs, which were as young as a couple of weeks old, are almost as cute as a puppy, though not nearly so cuddly.  I believe the current numbers are around 26 sheep (including this year's lambs), several dozen chickens, with a few dozen more chicks growing under the heat lamp, both egg layers and broilers, untold thousands of bees, and even two goats. 
Chicks under the heat lamp...adorable little future food!

One of the rams grazing in his paddock
The sheep are generally very friendly, albeit somewhat skittish in some cases, but there are a few that are attention hogs.  This was a great opportunity for kids to come out and see the animals, and even hold one of the more outgoing lambs.  Visitors ranged from locals who came by to check out the farm to one from out of town who came by because he is interested in seeing where his food comes from.  There were numerous children, which is always nice to see, since few kids these days get to experience this kind of thing; I was lucky enough to grow up across the street from a small farm, but I never really appreciated that fact until recently.  Hopefully children being exposed to farms like this will at least give them an appreciation that their food is not simply what they see in the grocery store.
Sweetfern Farm is located at 292 Pleasantdale Rd, Rutland, MA.  Check them out on Facebook for some more pictures and information!


I also visited Sassawanna Alpacas, aka Sassawanna Rabbitry, a small family owned, part time operation that includes raising and shearing alpacas, as well as making yarn from their wool, and also raising rabbits. The owners are extremely friendly and clearly passionate about their hilariously adorable charges, which are distinctly reminiscent of Dr. Seuss illustrations.  I've been a big fan of
Newly weaned alpaca
alpacas ever since I first saw one in Lincoln, MA, where the dog breeder my mom got her Chocolate Lab from was raising them.  They have somewhat disturbingly human eyes, but are adorable as babies and rather amusing as adults; additionally, thier wool is pretty amazing, making some of the warmest, most comfortable knitted items you can find, including a pair of socks that I can only wear on super cold days.  Sassawanna's flock are so friendly and docile that you can feed them out of your hand, something that a few kids took full advantage of, and most seemed to really enjoy the experience. 

The farm sells yarn they make from these incredibly vocal animals, some of it pure, some a blend with sheep's wool, and some blended with sheeps wool and angora from their rabbits (which are adorably fluffy.  Since my mom knits, I picked her up a couple skeins of it, and it is incredibly soft stuff.
Fluffy angora rabbit
I also learned some new things about alpacas from the owner, including that they, like sheep (also did not know this, but Kate, the owner of Sweetfern Farm, told me) do not have two rows of teeth, instead just having a bottom row, and a hard palate on top.  They also hum pretty regularly, which is not necessarily a sign of stress, but is simply a reflex of theirs.  They also breed pretty infrequently, with a gestational period lasting a full year, and rarely have more than one cria.  They are also only shorn (at least at this farm) only once a year, and I must admit, a freshly shorn alpaca is pretty damned funny looking, with their super puffy legs and face.

Sassawanna Alpacas is located at 14 Sassawanna Rd, Rutland, MA.


The last farm I went to was Overlook Farm, technically the Learning Center at Overlook Farm, which at one time raised animals to be distributed by Heifer International, but currently operates to sell locally and act as a teaching resource, where groups that range from elementary school to adults can come learn how the farm works and operates, as well as get a glimpse of life in the various countries that Heifer International operates within.
When I visited, they were hosting a group of about 50 students, I believe middle schoolers, from Philadelphia, PA, who may have been seeing a farm like this for the first time.  It was great to see how many of them (more than half) seemed really interested in what was going on. 
When you pull into the farm, up a long driveway, you immediately see a pen full of sheep on one side of the parking lot, and some gorgeous views to the other, beyond the main buildings.

Small garden behind the main building

The pictures to either side show the twin pillars of the archway leading to the "global village," where the farm represents small aspects of the lives of some of Heifer International's clients.  Signs at the entrance to each area
explain a little about how Heifer International operates there, and about the country or region itself.

Signs explain each
Harlan County, KY, the setting for TNT's Justified, is an extremely poor (over 30% of the population lives below the "poverty" line; I think most would agree that being just north of that line doesn't really change much) county in
southeastern Kentucky. 

Peru, with its llamas and alpacas, is an example of how Heifer International operates these days, providing locally available and appropriate animals.

Guatemala and the Tibetan region of China were also represented, with goats in Guatemala and large, shaggy oxen for Tibet.  The structures at each were also intended to be representative of how people actually live in the
countries, including a rough stone hut and a yak hair tent that instantly reminded me of the steppe people of the Mongol period of domination. 

The farm also features a gift shop, where you can purchase trinkets, promotional items, and some frozen meats from the lambs raised on the farm.  The two farm employees I met were both extremely friendly, and clearly passionate about what they have going on there.                                                                                                    Overlook Farm is located at 214 Wachusett Rd, Rutland, MA.  


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Redemption Rye Whiskey

Redemption Rye is a 95% rye, two year aged whiskey made by Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana, LLC, and the first rye whiskey I have ever purchased.  After thoroughly enjoying a glass of A.H. Hirsch 25 year old rye (an Anchor Distilling Company product) a few months ago, and at the urging of one of my more whiskey enthused coworkers, I picked up a bottle of this at the liquor store across the street from my apartment, and have been enjoying it ever since.  While not nearly as smooth as the A.H. Hirsch (not to be confused with Hirsch, which is a super high end spirit, while the A.H. Hirsch is a step below), it is a very drinkable whiskey, with a really nice oak-y flavor and a sort of spicy note that reminds me of spiced rum...except, ya know, good.  I have been drinking it both straight and as an addition to hot cider, which is my favorite non-caffeinated hot beverage.  I know this is not exactly a traditional pairing, but it actually works really well, and if you like whiskey and cider, it is a tough combination to beat.  Overall, this is a really nice whiskey, and I think I only paid about $30, if not less, for the bottle, so it is not exactly a wallet killer, unlike most of the Bourbons and Scotch whiskies I enjoy.


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Boston Trip #2

During my trip to the 2013 American Craft Beer Fest, Sean and I stayed at Hostelling International's Boston location, which is on Stuart St in Chinatown, leading us to having a few good meals in the area.  I should also say, this was my first experience at a hostel, and it was a pretty positive one; the hostel was large, clean, and had some pretty decent amenities, including an espresso bar, lounge area, and even a kitchen space, and the rooms lock, which is fantastic, and each bed has its own locker that a padlock can secure.  The room we were in had six bunks, each of which has a small cubby space at the head of the bed, which has a reading light and a few outlets to charge your phone.  At just $50 a night per person, this is significantly better than just about any hotel in or around the city, and it is in a pretty great location, within walking distance to...well...just about anywhere in Boston.

Anyways, on to the food!  When Sean and I arrived, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel, and went to grab some food.  We spied Q Restaurant on the corner of Washington St and Beach St, a sort of pan Asian (or at least east Asian) restaurant offering sushi, Mongolian hot pot style dinners, Thai, and Chinese cuisine.  We knew were going to get some dim sum in the morning, so we went with the Mongolian hot pot, which I last had back in 2000 in the Pacific Northwest (I think in Victoria) with my dad and brother on a vacation, and which Sean had never had.  Essentially, you get a large bowl of hot broth (or in this case, broth that is heated to the point of an aggressive boil on a burner located in the middle of the table) in which you cook a variety of meats and/or vegetables.  You can pick from a number of broths, which cost anywhere between three and eight dollars (or the Basic Broth, which is free), and at least one of these is vegetarian friendly.  You can choose from combos or a la carte accompaniments for the broth, ranging from "Kobe" beef (I still have no clue why people aren't outraged that they are being asked to pay ridiculous amounts of money for a product that is not even available in the USA, and thus are being lied to) to fish balls to various vegetables.  The combinations all include assorted vegetables, such as a small piece of corn on the cob, some baby bok choy, watercress, and a couple others.  You also can choose from a few different noodle or rice options; Sean and I both went with the Udon noodles, and I had the Beef and Lamb combo, while he had just the Lamb.  We went with a bowl of the Mala broth, which the menu says is their most popular.  It was spicy, filled with chili peppers, and very, very flavorful, though the amount of time you are cooking the various items in the hot broth limits the amount of flavor transfer.  The meat, which is sliced exceptionally thin (think lunch meat) cooks very, very quickly, as do the vegetables, though they can stay in the hot liquid longer without much issue.  The noodles also did not require much of a soak, just enough to get them hot, really.  The food was pretty delicious, and we were stuffed by the time we finished; the mile and a half long walk to the Seaport World Trade Center was definitely a positive, as it gave us time to digest, and also burned off at least a few calories (that we quickly replaced with beer, of course) as we walked in the very hot sun.  I don't know how authentic the food was, but we both enjoyed it, and would go back.  The prices weren't unreasonable, either, costing us each under $25 for the meal.

After the ACBF, we were pretty tired, and slightly tipsy, but by the time we got back to the hostel, we decided we needed some more food, if only to soak up the booze.  Sean suggested finding a burger place, so with the help of my phone we found UBURGER, a small local chain with five locations throughout Boston.  We went to the 140 Tremont St. location, which should only be about a 10 minute walk, that somehow we (I?) turned into a 30 minute walk via some unfortunate directional issues, arriving half an hour before they closed.  I ordered a Cowboy Burger, which has barbeque sauce, pepper jack cheese, grilled mushrooms and bacon, and added a soda and fries, which cost me all of about $10; not bad in Boston.  The burger was decent, nothing super special, but to a slightly intoxicated person at 10:30pm, it was perfect.  Cooked a little more than I like (I don't recall being asked how I wanted it, honestly, though that could be me misremembering due to being exhausted), it was nicely salty, and the toppings were great.  The fries were spectacular, shoestring fries that were deliciously crispy, salty and just the littlest bit greasy; aka, perfect drunk food.  This is the kind of place that needs to be in the bar section of every college town in America.  Probably not the most vegetarian friendly place, they do offer a veggie patty and some salads, but it is clearly not their specialty.

Sunday morning we woke up, incredibly sans hangover, and met my friends Forrest and Molly at China Pearl for dim sum.  Few things appeal to me more as a breakfast food than dim sum, which consists of a variety of steamed buns, rolls, and rice dishes, among others, that are brought to the table on steam-table carts.  There are a couple problems with this, as a non-Cantonese speaking individual:  first off, I honestly have little to no clue what I am getting most of the time, as the wait staff for the most part spoke little to no English, and so I was left to guess what they were offering us several times; and second, I had no clue how much anything cost, since they just marked up the card on the table with stamps of Chinese characters.  Despite these difficulties, we had some pretty good food, though it could have better.  I loved the pork steamed buns (char siu bau), which were somehow both light and dense at the same time, and the sticky rice was great, filled with some variety of poultry.  The steamed meatballs were less of a hit, though they were not bad by any means.  The sweet buns filled with pork were great, a perfect combination of sweet and savory, though only Sean and I enjoyed them; neither Forrest nor Molly are big pork fans, as it turns out.  We had a few other dishes, and I do not think anyone left hungry, though I suspect that I enjoyed the meal more than the rest of the group.  We were each out exactly $10 at the end, so the fact that we had no clue what we were paying for individual dishes turned out not to be a problem at all; this was, in fact, remarkably cheap.  China Pearl is one of two highly recommended Chinatown restaurants to get dim sum, with the other being Hei La Moon; I look forward to trying that restaurant as well in the future.  I do not believe that this is a particularly vegetarian friendly type of meal, at least unless you are fluent in Cantonese and can converse with the waiters pushing the carts, as you may end up getting more than you bargained for otherwise.


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Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 American Craft Beer Fest (Boston, MA)


Harpoon Brewery©


Everyone has days they look forward to all year; for most, it is a birthday, an anniversary, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any of a myriad of other major holidays and events.  For me, the American Craft Beer Fest is one of those days.  Sponsored by BeerAdvocate and Harpoon Brewery, this is the third year I have attended, and it has gotten bigger and better each time.  Held in the gigantic Seaport World Trade Center in Boston's Harborside, each of the three sessions, held over the course of two days, has the capacity for 5,000 guests, plus a couple hundred staff and somewhere close to 1,000 brewery workers from over 140 different craft breweries.  I went with my friend Sean, who also came with me last year.  You can find my review of last year's event here.

Last year, I was disorganized, and because of that, I missed out on a few things; this year, I planned ahead, checking out the list of beers that would be at the festival and determining which were the ones I most wanted to try.  This list consisted of 22 beers from 19 different breweries, which are located all over the country, from Maine to California.  I tasted all but two of these beers (the missing beers were the Jack's Abby Smoked Maple Lager, because I forgot what I wanted, and Stone Imperial Russian Stout, which they were out of), and when I was done with my list I found a couple more to try as well.  Overall, this was a great trip, and I had some delicious beers, as well as a few mediocre ones and even one or two that were just plain awful.  Virtually all of them were new to me beers, though I had a couple of old favorites as well.  My descriptions are going to be pretty short, just some quick observations.  Without further ado, in the order that I tried them:

Brewery Ommegang
Brewery Ommegang's Rare Vos (Belgian Pale Ale, 6.5%)--The first beer of the night, this was a light, citrusy beer packed with flavor; a great option for a warm day.

Brooklyn Brewery's Silver Anniversary Lager (Doppelbock, 9%)--A medium bodied, hoppy beer, it was drinkable but not their best.  I wish I had tried something else.

Oskar Blues Brewery's Mama's Little Yella Pils (Czech Pilsener, 5.3%)--One of my favorites of the night, this was a light, flavorful, delicious beer, perfect as a session beer or on a hot day while grilling.  This has a lot more flavor than your average Czech style pilsener.  Just what I expect from this company, a fine beer that is the equal of the previously reviewed Old Chub.  These guys are a definite leader in the movement of great beers packaged in cans rather than bottles.

Allagash Brewing Company's Interlude (Saison, 9.5%)--The first thing that hit me about the Interlude was that it smells like champagne as it first hits your nose, but this disappears as you taste it and are overwhelmed by the huge, classic flavor of this fantastic saison.  Wheaty, with a light body, this was among my favorites of the night as well.

Rogue Ales
Rogue Ales' OREgasmic Ale (American Pale Ale, 6%)--Boring.  That's the primary thought that was in my head after tasting this; it is mildly bitter, and not in a pleasant, IPA-ish fashion, and there just is not much else there.  I'm disappointed, I expect so much more from Rogue.

Victory Brewing Company's Prima Pils (German Pilsener, 5.3%)--This was another surprising disappointment, from another company I really have a lot of respect for.  The Prima Pils was too light, too fruity and citrusy, and had nothing special to offer.  The hops were too bitter, something that I would rarely say.

Maine Beer Company's Lunch (American IPA, 7%)--There really is not that much to say about the Lunch; it is the perfect IPA.  Try it and you will see, this is the best example of an incredible beer variety you will absolutely love.

Lagunitas Brewing Company's Imperial Stout (Russian Imperial Stout, 9.9%) and Hop Stoopid (American Double IPA, 8%)--Two very good beers from a company that has been at the forefront of California's craft beer movement for two decades.  The Imperial Stout is a spicily sweet, sharp, tart beer, with a lot of malt flavor; I absolutely loved it, but my friend Sean hated it, comparing it to a lambic, which was understandable, as the tartness was reminiscent of that.  He had the Hop Stoopid, which was a hoppily delicious IPA.

Stone Brewing Co.'s Cali-Belgique (Belgian IPA, 6.9%)--I did not write anything down for this; I'm not sure what that means.

Jack's Abby Brewery, llc.'s--Cascadian Schwarzbier (Schwarzbier, 7%)--This was a good, subtly hoppy beer, not as good as Jack's Abby's Hoponius Union, which is one of my favorite beers from Massachusetts, but this is a good option.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's Burton Baton (American Double IPA, 10%)--This was a good beer, but yet again, I am disappointed by one of my favorite breweries.  I guess I expect something equal to the 90 Minute IPA or the WorldWide Stout every time I taste a new Dogfish beer, and this did not live up.  I did enjoy it though, and it does not taste like a 10% beer, so that's something good at least.

Widmer Brothers Brewing
Widmer Brothers Brewing's Omission Pale Ale (American Pale Ale/Gluten Free, 5.8%) and Hopside Down India Style Pale Lager (American Pale Lager, 5.5%)--I don't know what I was expecting with the Omission, my first gluten free beer, but I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it. It is nothing particularly interesting, but it reminded me of Yuengling, which is never a bad thing.  The Hopside Down, which they referred to also an "IPL," was really great, one of the better beers I had all evening.

Kona Brewing Company
Kona Brewing Company's Wailua Wheat (American Pale Wheat Ale, 5.4%)--This was a bad beer, completely un-enjoyable, tasting like eating a bunch of wheat; who wants to do that?

Great Divide Brewing Company
Great Divide Brewing Company's Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti (American Double Stout, 9.5%)--This was the second best beer I had all night, just behind the Lunch.  I have some to rely on Great Divide, one of a number of spectacular Colorado breweries, for some fantastic beers, including the Claymore Scotch Ale and the Denver Pale Ale, but this is their best yet.  Smooth, chocolate-y, delicious, this heavily malted beer is incredible, and I will definitely be getting some in the future.  Great Divide is rapidly moving up my list of best breweries in the country.

The Cambridge House Brewpub's Abija Rowe IPA (English IPA, 6.9%)--This is a beer two of my coworkers have been recommending for months, so I had high expectations, and Cambridge House met them.  A wonderfully hoppy, slightly bitter beer, it is a quintessential IPA, a model beer for the variety.  It is not quite as incredible as the Lunch, or a few of Stone's offerings, but you cannot complain about anything involving this beer.

Element Brewing Company with a decent line
Element Brewing Company's 6:56 2012 Double Extra Special Oak (English Strong Ale, 15%)--At an event filled with super high ABV beers, the 6:56 was tied (with Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout) for the highest of all.  At three times the "normal" amount for a beer, aka Budweiser, this is not a gulping beer, but my lord, sipping it is wonderful.  Reminiscent of the WorldWide Stout, this smooth, sweet, malty, huge beer is just incredible.  Second best new beer for me, behind only the Yeti, and third best overall.  Points for Element also for walking around with a pitcher of Red Giant for people waiting in line.

Boston Beer Company's Samuel Adams Tetravis (Quadrupel, 10.2%)--Sam Adams is often forgotten when talking about craft beers, partially because they no longer officially qualify, since they are a publicly listed company on the NYSE, and partially because people tend to think of them as being much, much bigger than they really are.  Most of their beers are rather mundane, with a few of their regular beers being legitimately loved and respected in the beer community, but it is their special beers that show their roots and their ability.  The Tetravis is a strong, delicious beer, and while I did not take much in the way of notes and thus do not have much specifically to say about it, I can say that one word I wrote down was "spectacular."  Kudos to a company that I, and many others, do not often give enough respect to.

Banner Beer Company's American Summer (American Blonde Ale, 3.7%)--Banner is a new local brewery specializing in low ABV session beers, a nice idea, as I will admit that I do not really want to always be drinking super high alcohol brews.  The people involved seem really, really nice, and I wanted so badly to like this beer....but it just reminds me of Budweiser, and that is never, ever a positive thing.  It was just boring, and I really hope they improve, because more breweries in the area is always a good thing, especially when the people involved are so very friendly.

Olde Burnside Brewing Company's Father Christmas Highland Ale (Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy, 9.2%) and Stone of Destiny (Black and Tan, 12%)--By this point, my already poor handwriting had severely deteriorated, to the point that even I can barely read it.  This did not in any way decrease my enjoyment of the beers I was drinking, of course, but it does make my opinions slightly suspect.  That said, I thought that both of these were good beers, with the Father Christmas a nice example of a Scotch Ale; malty, slightly sweet, a good drinking beer with a nice mouth feel.  The Stone of Destiny, that rare bottled black and tan, was also a good one, a perfect example of what you're looking for in a black and tan.  This was my last scheduled stop.

Mad River Brewing Company

And on to the additional beers I tried, that were not on my original list. 

Mad River Brewing Company's Jamaica Red Ale (American Amber/Red Ale (6.5%)--I only wrote one word:  "Awful."  Cool sign though.

Otter Creek Brewing's Hop Session Ale (American Pale Ale, 4.25%)--A nice example of a session ale, light and tasty.

High Horse Brewing's Mr. White (Witbier w/ Grapefruit, 4.75%)--High Horse does some nice stuff, and this is a good witbier, with a decent, mild flavor.  Also super friendly people.  Read my review of the High Horse itself here.

All in all, this was a great success, for me personally and for BeerAdvocate and the ACBF; the event continues to be a blast for all participants, and grows year by year.  In the future, they may have to expand to offer a fourth, or even fifth session over three days.  After only six years, this event is already the largest beer festival on the east coast, one of the largest in the country, and attracts about 15,000 people over a two day period; that is distinctly impressive.  Well done BeerAdvocate, well done Harpoon, and well done to all the brewers and attendees.  Not a single fight, argument, or even disagreement seemed to break out while I was in the area, which considering the amounts of alcohol being consumed and the number of people involved is a true testament to the respect people have for this event.

View of the giant room
Another view of the giant room

Some swag from Kona

The all important guide to the ACBF
More swag, this time from Widmer Brothers

One more shot of the room...people of all ages
were there, a great event!
Long Trail and Otter Creek; two great Vermont
breweries side by side


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