Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brewing Report: Tasting Notes from the Cajun Cafe Beer Festival

In mid-November, my husband and I headed to the Cajun Café Beer Festival. Cajun Café is a great restaurant in St. Petersburg with fantastic food and great location. We were really impressed with this festival. It is unique because the owner doesn’t use one particular distributor and spends the year stockpiling interesting micro-brews. He also invites some of the local Home brewing clubs.

The festival was well laid out. Each table had six to fifteen beers to taste. The tickets also included a fruit and cheese plate and a Taste of Cajun Café plate – gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish cornbread. Yum! Plus the band was so fun!

The beer festival highlighted a few of the beer trends:

- Super hoppy beers: I think this trend may be ending – thankfully, but it seems like breweries were completing to see how much they could out-hop each other.

- High alcohol – We had trouble deciphering between the 13% beers. They all had a very sweet, alcohol taste.

- Aging in a bourbon barrel – The fest had two bourbon barrel ales – Windmere Reserve and a local home brewer’s version. The Widmere Reserve has nice flavor, but we were impressed with how the home brewer was able to produce a very balanced smooth beer.

- Sour beers – I hadn’t tasted a sour beer before and the Festival had a couple stunners. It reminded me of sitting back in the back of bus on the way to Washington DC eating sour balls until we burned the insides of our mouth. The highlights were Zuur and the Cascade Creek Northwest Style Sour Ale. The Cascade Creek was the best at the Festival. It was smooth, full bodied and a great palette cleanser.

We picked up the best tip – a pretzel necklace. A lot of the beers had very strong flavors – sour, hops, and powerful stouts. We definitely needed a palate cleanser after some of those.

We will definitely go again.

Here are some of our tasting notes:

Red Hook Expedition 8-4-1: A nut brown ale with malty flavor on a strong background of hops.

Cuvee 2: Oak Aged, deep flavor, very smooth

Starr Hill The Love Wheat: Crisp, fruity with a slight note of sour

Ommegang 3 Philosophers Quadruple Belgium Style Ale: Tartness of the cherries helps to offset the sweet from the high alcohol content.

Ommegang Witte: Very refreshing wheat with great citrus notes

Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter: A great porter base with a smokey flavor that delivers on the promise.

Ommegang Cup of Kindness Limited Edition: A scotch ale that delivers on its promise.

Mike’s Homebrew Pumpkin Spice: A great balance of both pumpkin and spice flavors. The only pumpkin beer Angie has ever liked.

Dunedin Brewers’ Guild Belgium Double Chocolate Stout: This stout made by a local home brewer was so decadent. It was delicious, velvety and super-sized chocolate flavor.

Dunedin Brewers’ Guild Petit Saison: A solid saison. Light fruity, but still had the body of a beer.

Red Brick Vanilla Gorilla: Smooth vanilla dark ale that reminded us of cream soda.

Fort Collins Brewery Common Ground: Coffee flavor but not dark. It is a really good and unusual beer.

Dunedin Apricot Wheat: This beer delivers a wheat background with apricot flavors and nose.

Dogfish Chicory Stout: What a great combination! The flavors of chicory meld nicely with the solid stout background.

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter: Definitely had vanilla flavor, but avoided being overly sweet. A solid porter.

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