I came, I saw… I tried to drink them all
Another BrauKunst Live 2015 has come and gone. Close to 100 exhibitors served 700+ different beers in the festival hall to over 8600 beer enthusiasts. This year I had the great pleasure owning a media pass and it’s debatable if that’s an advantage or disadvantage!!! Anyhow, I did prepare a little for the festival in that I created a list of the breweries that I definitely wanted to try beers from, and I tried to take the time to write them all down as I sampled… 91 different beer names are written down! WOW! It would probably blow this post if I mentioned them all. I’ll just say that there were a lot of great beers, but also quite a few that were not up my alley.
There were definitely some very unique beers that I was very impressed with that I’ll mention though. The Moll, a collaboration brew from BrauKunstKeller and Kehrwieder (all the beers they were pouring were excellent) is an extinct old German beer style and an easy drinking Rauchbier with a subtle, restrained tartness. The Monroe from Hopfenstopfer, a Single Hop Imperial Pale Ale was smooth and light with full flavors of red berries and passion fruit. Hanscraft & Co had a new brew that can only be described as dessert in a glass. Taking a sip of their Sweet Sixteen, a 16,5 ABV Barleywine Eisbock and you got a mouthful of alcohol-infused-fruit-cobbler-topped-with-vanilla-liquor as if you just bit into a pie. CRAZY sweet! Kissmeyer, a one man gypsy brewery from Denmark I’d never heard of also poured several great beers. Their Pipes & Drums Barrel Reserve, a collaboration brew with Amager Bryghus, surprised me the most. I’m usually not a Barley Wine fan but this one convinced me with it’s subtle sweetish, vinous aroma with hints of fruits and nuts. A couple steps to the left was Freigeist’s and Nogne Ø’s booth who, besides their own beers also poured brews from The Monarchy, To Øl and De Molen. Taking a sip of Nogne Ø’s #1000 had me dive into the world of the Arabian Nights. There’s an abundance of spices in both flavor and aroma with a nice malty caramel sweetness. Freigeist’s Geisterzug Rhubarb Gose and Abraxxxas Pear Lichtenhainer were brews I could drink all the time and all day long. They’re incredibly lively, characterful, and thirst-quenching and were a nice “break” between some of the stronger, heavier beers. Last but not least Ku’Damm, a Berliner Weisse and Daft, a barrel-aged Barley Wine from Urban Chestnut. The Berliner Weisse is solid and probably one of the best ones I drank in my live and surprisingly another Barley Wine, in which for the first time I experienced a umami flavor.
I also want to give props to the newcomers: Hopfmeister, a newly founded gypsy brewery from Munich who plan to open this May. Their motto, brewing beers for craft beer beginners, which are hoppy but still quaffable. And BrewAge, a young Austrian start-up brewery who tie in tradition, refine and reinterpret it.
Of the three days at BrauKunst Live, Friday was my favorite. Since Friday is the opening day, everyone is full of energy and excited to be there. Most of the brewers and brewery reps were behind their booths and all the different beers are still available. Sunday was great because it’s the least visited day and I could stroll through the hall and try beers that I haven’t already tried. Saturday was still fun, but it was a mad house plus having been there the day before and going to the “in-official” after show party at the hotel, I was tired and had moments where I was ready to go home 😉 But it’s still hard to pass up being there for all three days just to be able to soak it all in and enjoy the atmosphere.
On of the hidden gems on the festival floor were the booths from Bier Deluxe and Derer Imports! Both being craft beer importers, they gave me a little taste of “home”! Bier Deluxe had beers from four US breweries on tap [and I happily admit I was obsessed with] Ballast Point’s Sculpin and Grapefruit Sculpin, whose tart freshness of grapefruit complements the IPA’s citrusy hop character. Derer Import had a vast amount of bottles from Rogue, Smuttynose, Saugatuck, Latitude 42, Left Hand, North Coast and Epic Brewing, to only mention a few. To my surprise they had Epic Brewing’s very limited release: Brainless® on Peaches. I only had a couple little sips but it was delicious. It has 10.5% ABV, but drinks much smoother than that… dangerous!! They also had Neapolitan Milk Stout by Saugatuck Brewing, which is a perfect blend of a classic dry stout character with brilliant flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry all in one glass!