Fight SAD with Suds at Winter Beer Fest

By Sharon Margolis
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 9, 2011

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Winter blues be damned. There’s mass drinking to be done.

The third annual Winter Beer Fest—a tasting event featuring about 70 mostly new cold-weather craft beers—is back after a rocky start and a change of date and venue.

Bring your Seasonal Affective Disorder to the table, and sip a diverse array of spiced ales and winter warmers from each vendor, showcasing one seasonal beer and one produced year-round, during one of two extended drink sessions this Saturday, Feb. 12, from 1-5 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. Tix are $40 until Feb. 11, and $50 at the door.

Winter beers, produced for a limited time around November, offer a bigger, bolder (read: maltier, experimentally hoppy, more intoxicating) taste than rest-of-the-year brews, and give breweries a chance to fire up their creative spirits once a year.

“It keeps the master brewers interested in their craft,” says Barry Mulherin, one of the co-founders of the Beer Fest, and owner of Barry’s Homebrew Outlet.

Newcomer brews Mulherin’s particularly excited about showcasing include 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat and Black IPA, Stone’s Double Bastard from California, and Central Waters Mudpuppy porter. “I tried one of those the other day, man was that good!,” says Mulherin.

The origins of the Beer Fest, headed by rabid beer enthusiasts Mulherin and friend Troy Timpel, began when, each winter, they would chip in money with friends to buy the myriad different one-off seasonal brews available, and divide them up amongst themselves. This beer geek tradition between friends sparked the idea for the first Winter Beer Fest three years ago. It’s grown each year since.

This year, it’s being held at the Electric Factory, after a PLCB hiccup involving original venue Starlight Ballroom forced Mulherin and Timple to change the date and venue. Old printed tickets are valid for entry.

Volunteers to pour the beer at the fest are all hand-picked from Mulherin’s homebrew clientele, knowledgable beer lovers who hope to spread the new-brew gospel to potential converts from each vendor’s table.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Mulherin says. “It’s like the new wine. There are so many different flavors and so many different intricacies of the brewing process, and people get really excited by this. It’s actually a cultlike following of craft beer.”

Take a swig from the seasonal Kool-Aid, and join the craft-beer-loving masses as they toast to last-minute recoveries, bold new tastes and the joys of wintertime warmth.

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