Raleigh Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting 2014 – Recap W/ Pics
This year’s Raleigh Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting is the event’s third year. Taking place behind Seaboard Station, near the Tyler’s Taproom in Raleigh, the event not only serves as a way for attendees to enjoy rare/vintage/great beer, it also serves as an opportunity to bring awareness to prostate cancer through the group, Pints for Prostates. Anything sold at the event serves as a direct donation to the organization, like the Samuel Adams booth selling pours of their Utopias. Besides the Sam Adams having a presence, there were 46 other breweries present with 62 beers for event-goers to sample. Among the beers present was the only keg in the country of Rodenbach Foederbier, Brooklyn Brewery’s NY Limited which is not available outside of New York, and Anchor Brewing’s Old Foghorn Barley Wine, only the second cask of Anchor beer tapped on the east coast. The event’s space is the same as last year, and tickets are limited, which definitely leads to a more enjoyable experience when compared to other beer fests. Because the beer here is more rare, more ‘nerdy’ type of people are in attendance, so no one is really there with the explicit goal of getting totally plastered. Having an Imperial level ticket is definitely worth it as Imperial ticket holders are admitted an hour before the rest of the crowd. That extra hour gives you the chance to get to the more sought after brews before any line really forms, or people get to jostle-y.
The first brewery I stopped at was Stone. I’ve been a pretty big Stone fan since I started on craft brews, so I was excited to see that they had brought a 2012 Double Bastard Ale that had been aged in chardonnay barrels. The pour came out looking like a dark apple cider, but smelled oak-y, with notes of chardonnay sweetness. It was bitter at the get-go, but gave way to a bit of ale yeastiness. The finish was overwhelmingly Bastard. I also had their Cali-Belguiqe that was aged in white whine barrels. It had a light scent, definitely smelled of white grapes. It had the bitterness of an ale, with the sweetness of grapes and Belgian yeast, with a distinctly bitter finish. My current favorite North Carolina brewry, Wicked Weed out of Asheville, NC, had some beers on tap at the event; I had the Dark Age Bourbon Stout. It’s a dark Russian stout, smelled roast-y, and like bourbon, which gave way to notes of banana. It was a delightfully smooth beer, nice and thick, with great flavors from beginning to end. Probably my favorite beer of the day was Haw River Brewing’s Ensi de Brut. It definitely smells like something one would not want to drink, incredibly funky. But tasting it takes it to a whole different level. It has been aged in chardonnay casks, which leaves it with a light, hop flavor, but imparts flavors of several different kinds of citrus fruits. It’s carbonated more than your average beer, so it has a light, crisp finish that tastes distinctly like pineapple. Six Point Brewing is new to me, and I’m glad I tried their coffee porter. It is definitely a good one. Mystery Brewing’s Obelisk II was a nice change, as well. It smells a bit sour and tart, but also sweet. It was brewed with lime and sage, which definitely come across in the flavor. It also tastes organically sweet, and has a nice light finish. Old Mecklenburg’s Mecktoberfest is their Oktoberfest aged in bourbon barrels. It has a deep scent, notes of coconut and banana are present. It tastes like an Oktoberfest up front, but gives way to bourbon flavors, followed by a light banana finish. I was happy that Raleigh Brewing Company had a table, and I sampled their Miller’s Toll an imperial oatmeal stout aged in Evan Williams honey bourbon barrels. It smells of vanilla with light bourbon notes. A full flavored, thick stout, it had a nice roasted malt finish. Highland Brewing had their Ashevilliner Weisse on tap. I didn’t know that traditionally a Berliner weisse is served with simple syrup, so this was something new. I was given ladles of a raspberry and a hot pepper syrup, followed by the beer. It smelled like a typical light Berliner weisse, but the flavor was more full. The syrup definitely thickens it up a bit and gives a bit more body to the mouth feel. It had a slight kick from the pepper syrup, and then had a nice light raspberry finish. Terrapin was also there with a few, I had a pour of their Maggies Peach Farm House Ale (made with real Georgia peaches) that had been aged in cabernet barrels. It has a sweet scent, slightly yeast-y, with a definite carbonated mouth feel. Sweet, and slightly tart, there were definite peach notes in the flavor and finish. Hardywood Brewing, from Richmond, VA, was there with their RVA IPA. It certainly smells like an IPA, quite a dank one, definitely a sweet hoppy scent. More of a bitter IPA, it tastes very organic, and has an intensely hoppy finish. Trophy Brewing was present again this year, and I had their Peach-Ginger Berliner weisse. It smelled a bit skunky, had a musky flavor that was accompanied by ginger and peach notes. With a ginger-y finish, it was all around a nice refreshing beer.
If one ever gets the opportunity, they should visit the Raleigh Rare & Vintage Beer tasting. Even though it was a brisk Saturday afternoon, it was quite comfortable under the event’s tent. Great people, great beer, great and plentiful appetizers. Everyone can find something that they like to sip on. I’d like to thank the fine folks at Tyler’s Taproom for inviting me back to cover this year’s event. I definitely enjoyed myself.