Wednesday, May 9, 2012

14th Annual Manayunk Brewfest

The last Saturday in April has come and gone which means the annual Manayunk Brewfest occurred! For me, this was actually my 9th in a row which I think is a pretty good run. For the past few years, they've also been doing a theme (though it's more or less only followed by the really small breweries) and this year's was Wild Ales. Considering I hadn't ever seen Manayunk brew a wild ale, I was really curious what they were going to offer.

Like every year, the Septa trains out to Manayunk were timed terribly so we arrived about an hour early. However, this year we were actually the first people in line which was pretty surprising. Here's my friends and wife waiting on the front of the line.
People also gave us a wide berth in the front but I think it was because they were smoking and not because they thought we were weird. Or I hope that was the reason.

After waiting an hour, we were finally let into the brewery. The first place we stopped was the Evil Genius Brewery, a new one from Ohio or so. And, in fact, here's the first sample!
Beer! Woo? But yeah that was the first of many samples as we wandered through the different areas of the brewery. Here's a decent shot of the outside before it was crowded with tons of people.
And here's a shot of the guys from the Harvest Moon Brewpub (out of New Brunswick, NJ) hanging about their booth.
There were four or five of them so at least they had themselves to keep each other company. I do believe the coffee porter from them was one of my buddies favorite beers of the day. Mine was probably the Berliner Weiss from Iron Hill Chestnut Hill which you can actually see in the left corner here.

As the day wore on, the place filled up quite a bit. The main issue this year was that Manayunk placed almost all of the breweries into the downstairs area instead of spreading out like usual. For example, unlike previous years, they didn't have anyone on the upstairs deck and barely had anyone in the upstairs room. This meant even though it probably wasn't as busy as last year, it felt more crowded. I'm not sure what breweries were missing (other than Forrest & Main) but Jo and I didn't like the layout as much. Maybe they did it to make it look more crowded but hopefully they reconsider next year.

The one funny thing was the Sly Fox booth decided to bring along some growlers to open at 4pm exactly. This meant their booth was slightly swarmed with people trying to get a taste of the special beer. Just hands and glasses reaching out for a sip.
All in all, it was a pretty fun day except for the layout issues I mentioned and even that wasn't too big a deal. It felt like there were less breweries this year but since I couldn't really think of any missing, I'm not sure I'm right. Regardless, Manayunk had some pretty good special beers including a Double IPA made with brett (this was their wild entry I guess) which had an interesting contrast to the normal version and a decent Flanders Red that was on their regular tap list. The latter could have used a bit more complexity but it was only aged with oak spirals and probably not for a long time so one can only get so much out of that. For other breweries, the Berliner Weiss I mentioned was nice and tart and McKenzie's had a pretty good raspberry saison. Even with the negatives, Jo and I will almost definitely go next year. I mean, it'll be 10 years next time! How could I not go?

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