Bill and Mike’s Excellent Beerventure. After a beautiful drive we arrived in Augusta about 1:30 and the festival was in full swing. We paid for our entry, got our glassware and were on our way. A total of 15 breweries were distributing samples in 3 different tents.
We made our way over to Augusta Brewing first. Bill and I were very excited about them bottling their beers so we wanted to get a fresh taste. I started off with the tripel. It had a bit of a funky (in a good way) aroma; it turns out they use a saison yeast which can really help give it that farmhouse flavor that they’re looking for.
Luckily Augusta’s booth was right next to the food tent. I hadn’t eaten all day, which could have spelled bad news for someone at a beer festival. So I picked up a Hop Harvest IPA, also from Augusta, and made a beeline for a brat. I took a quick whiff of the Hop Harvest. It had a wonderful, fruity fresh hop aroma; it paired well with my brat. (You’ll notice there is no picture of the brat, I’ll leave that one for Bill.)
After finishing our food and listening to a bit of the Chia Band we decided to make the rounds. Our first stop was at the Schlafly booth. I was surprised to see Chief Brewer Stephen Hale there, since this weekend was the St. Louis Scottish Games, but both he and his kilted legs (which you can see in the picture to the left) were there to greet us. We also got a look at the new Biere de Garde 750ml bottle, which should be in stores by the end of October. I had the Pumpkin Ale (I can never pass it up) and everyone else had their Hop Harvest Ale. Irene and Ellie loved the Hop Harvest Ale, they said it had a tangerine hop aroma which paired well with the sweet malt backbone.
We made our way past the AB booth (I’ll be honest I didn’t even see it there) and walked down to the Power Plant Brewery booth. Unfortunately all of the beers listed in the beer guide for The Power Plant were incorrect as we were wanting to try their Nut Brown beer. I decided to try their Rye Pale Ale while everyone else tried their Wheat beer. The consensus was that the beer seemed a bit thin. The Rye had a subtle spice to it, but I agree that the beer lacked a bit of mouth-feel.
Immediately to The Power Plant’s right was Morgan Street Brewery. The gentleman slinging beers is Drew. He’s a homebrewer that just made the jump to professional. Morgan Street just hired him on as their new cellar man. I had the pleasure of trying Morgan Street’s Vienna lager at the St. Louis Brews meeting (and it was fantastic) so I decided to give their Honey Wheat a go. It provided a nice change of pace from the previous beers as the record heat in October was getting a bit unbearable under the tents.
Just to the right of Morgan Street was Boulevard. They had, by far, the biggest booth of the festival and also by far the busiest. We skipped it for the time being and headed for the O’Fallon booth. Boulevard may have had the biggest booth, but O’Fallon had the best decorated one. They were serving their pumpkin ale out of a pumpkin, it was clever and very eye catching:
Even more impressive to me was O’Fallon’s selection of beers. Not only did they have their Gold, Wheat and 5 Day IPA, but they were also serving their Smoked Porter and a cask of the 5 Day IPA. While having the Smoked Porter on draught was an unexpected surprise, the hit of the festival for me was getting cask poured 5 Day IPA. It just had this really citrusy hop aroma and this perfect mouth-feel; it was just one of those amazing beer experiences that kept leading me back to their tent. (If you didn’t make it to the festival and you want to try cask 5 Day, make your way down to Iron Barley. They’re the only place in St. Louis to serve it.)
As transfixed as I was with the 5 Day, we forged on and moved into the third tent and stopped first at Tin Mill Brewery’s booth. They may not be located in St. Louis, but if you’re a German beer fan you may want to make your way out to Hermann, Missouri to give these guys a try. I had their Maibock and Dopplebock; both were very clean lagers that were almost picture perfect for the style.
Alandale was our next stop and I was happy to see Daran Churovich the chief brewer at Alandale pouring samples. Since I was unable to attend their Fall Harvest Festival I didn’t get a chance to try their two new beers until now. Irene tried the Pumpkin while I tried the Chocolate Stout. I found that the stout was pleasantly bitter with a subtle chocolate aftertaste, I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to trying it again when it’s not 90 degrees out. I tried a bit of Irene’s Pumpkin sample and I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. While on the whole I find that a lot of pumpkin beers are too thick, this one seemed a bit too thin and the spicing also seemed to be a bit too over the top.
I’ll be honest, after that, things got a bit more hazy. Maybe it was the heat or the few dozen samples I had at that point but pictures became a lot less frequent as well as tasting notes. I know I tried the Charleville Half Wit Wheat (very tasty), the Square One Single Malt Scotch Ale (I wasn’t a fan) and the Square One Spicy Blonde (it was made with ginger which I found a bit too pungent, though Bill really liked it.) But eventually we just set up some chairs and sat back and enjoyed the festival. Sometimes when you get involved in trying to review these events you forget that you need to just sit back and have fun. Plus who wants to try and brave all of these people to get into the Boulevard tent?
OK, I’ll admit I did brave all of those people when I found out that Boulevard was serving a new Double IPA and it was well worth it.
I found this to be a very fun event, not overly crowded but enough to keep it lively. One of my few complaints (outside of Mother Nature) was that I wandered back over to the Schlafly tent around 4PM to try Hop Harvest for myself only to find all of the beer gone and no one to be found. C’mon guys, you’re probably the best brewery in St. Louis. Don’t let us down!
I urge you to make the trip out to Augusta next October. All of the people I met (like Derek and Drew) are passionate about beer and events like this give them the opportunity to show off the best of their passion. If anything, the drive alone is almost worth it.
Here’s an (almost) full list of beers at the event:
||The Power Plant Restaurant and Brewery