Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pints for Pachyderms

Last Friday I was invited by some friends to attend a fundraiser at a local zoo called "Pints for Pachyderms."  Lured by the thought of mutually inebriating elephants and myself, I went and had one heckuva time.

First off, the midwest is currently in the grip of a heatwave and Friday was no different.  I don't know the exact temperature, but it was enough to give me a pronounced 'V' down the front of my shirt.  Gross, I know, but also motivating to down some cold ones.  I'll give some general narration, but then try to give as many quick beer synopses as I can.  Also, in this article if I list a beer as "did not try," it's not because I didn't want to or was playing the part of the beer snob.  They were only giving out one sample at a time though often times you could ask for two.  If it's listed as "did not try," it is because I didn't feel like waiting in line any more.

First Tent:
Wild Blue: 8% ABV.  Tastes like blueberry juice, sugar, vanilla.  Not beer.
Shocktop Raspberry Wheat:  Complimentary, non-overwhelming raspberry.  I could get behind this as a very refreshing (yet sweet) summer beer.
They also had Margaritaville drinks, but I did not have any.

This first tent also had complimentary peanuts in shell, pretzles, and potato chips.  At first I thought the peanuts were just because of the event's name, but they're also pretty standard bar chow and something to change up on the palate from one beer to the next.  Turns out they had them at every table.  Walking to the next tent we were able to walk by some primate habitats.

Primates outside the primate exhibit.

Line for second tasting.
The second tasting area was for Mexican beers.  Given the hot temps it was no surprise that the lines for this tent were a little longer as people waiting for their cool, lighter-bodied beers.  These servers were probably some the nicer ones as well.  The guy promised me, not knowing that I am into craft beer, that the beers get stronger and more "craft-like" as we go.  The girl asked me what I wanted to drink.  I looked at the beers.  She said, "Do you want this one because it's cold and in my hand?"  Me: "You're good, you."

Second Tent: Mexican Beer
Modelo: Light pilsner in a can.  About what you'd expect.
Negro Modelo:  Pretty universal.  Do I need to touch on this one?
Victoria:  Light pilsner with the slight skunk of Mexican beer.
Pacifico:  All of the above (but no can).

You can't take some people anywhere.
 The next station was rather several things all under a larger tent: Potosi table, radio DJ, pints for sale, food, Summit table, and lots of thirsty fest-goers.

Food set up was nice.  Even the plastic wear made it seem more formal!

Thank goodness these were on sale.  Those samples weren't going to hold me.
 I actually visited the Summit table first and was thirsty enough to dive into their EPA.  Not that their EPA is bad, far from it, but IPA, EPA, BPA, etc, are not usually my first choice.

(Out of order) Fourth Tent: Summit
EPA: 4/5 Stars.  Not real bitter.  Very refreshing.  I probably drank this too fast.
Red Ale:  Very hoppy for a red.  Not very malty.
Hefe:  Did not try.
The Summit selections

Hard-workin' men from Summit.
 In this tent, and strategically placed throughout the zoo, were zoo employees with some of the zoo's animals. How cool!  This bird was in the main tent.

Third Tent: Potosi
Steamboat Shandy: Lots of citrus (duh), peach, and even apple.  They ran out of this later.
Snake Hollow IPA: citrus hops with a light bitter finish.  Perfect for the day.  I bought a pint of this later.
Good old Potosi: Did not try
Pure Malt Cave Ale: Did not try

This snake was en route to the fifth tent.
 The fifth station was a true taste of the local scene.  Great River Brewery is a brewery that recently moved across Iowa to our area.  Mississippi River Distillery started in LeClaire, IA (current home of TV show "American Pickers").  Irish Dog solely makes Bloody Mary Mix that used to be concocted right in their kitchen (they inform me they have since moved out of the kitchen).

Fifth Tent: LOCAL BREWS!
Mississippi River Distillery: This gin was phenomenal.  It tasted more peppermint, than true juniper, but allowed for a more mellow experience.  Also elements of simple syrup with very little burn on the way down.  There was a flavor I could not place, but eventually I determined it was "that minty spice in Thai food."  A friend in the group said, "That's right!  Lemongrass!  She DID say they used lemongrass."  Tastebuds: 1, Mystery Flavor: 0  I will be buying this when looking for gin.
Irish Dog Bloddy Mary:  Wow!  This is spicy meat-a-ball-a!  Not painful, but definitely as spicy as you can make it with out that.  Damn tasty.  Heat didn't linger too bad either.  It probably just seemed longer because of the weather.  All it lacked was my customary dill pickle spear and it would have been perfect.  I will be buying this as well.
Great River Brewery - Redband Stout:  This infuses the exact taste of a coffee drink.  Very authentic tasting.  Lots of espresso in what I bet is a milk stout.  Chocolate as well.  Tasty.

There was lots I did not get to try at this table.
Paul, brewmaster of Great River, pouring with the best of them.

The husband and wife team that is Irish Dog.

Giraffe shower scene on the way to the next tent.

I christened these animals, "skunk monkeys," and the name seemed to stick with those around us.

After seeing some animals, we arrived at the sixth table stationed by Goose Island.  Before I go into that, this whole day is a really cool idea.  How many times are there brew festivals where you get to see giraffes and lions?  Not many, I bet.  It really combines two great activities (or dates, if one were so inclined) and makes both enjoyable.  On to the next table.

Sixth Tent:  Goose Island
The only bummer about this table is that I only got one tasting!  They had their good stuff out and I really would have liked to try another one.  Good thing the one I was able to try was....
Pere Jacques (2009):  Smells remind of apple cider.  Flavor is roasted malt, a little warmth, cider, and dates.  Light citrus bitter at the end.  This is the most complex beer I had all day.  I couldn't believe they were pouring a 2009!

Goose Island folks.

Me with an unamused "skunk monkey."

Right by the lions' area was the Woodchuck Cider table.  They had some chummy folks working there and were pouring some of their special reserve.  Now, some of you may not think much of the ciders or that they would even have a Special Reserve, but my good friend (and very competant beer drinker) Keith has been telling me about this for probably a month, so I had to try it.

Seventh Tent: Woodchuck
Special Reserve:  Similar to their 'Fall' variety (which is AMAZBALLS), but more crisp and without their abundance of fall spices.  It also had a light, light bitter toward the end.  Very impressive cider.
Summer:  It is supposed to be based in blueberries, but the first flavor I got was pear!  The blueberries did come though.  They tasted like fresh blueberries!  They were not tart, nor syrupy.

Our tasting group!
 We were starting to lose daylight so the rest of the tour increased its pace a bit.  Next was Dundee tent.  I'm not really familiar with Dundee so I was excited to taste their offerings.

Eighth Tent: Dundee
IPA: Aroma was piney and caramel malt.  Flavor was also caramel, but included cream and resin.  Light clean finish.
Kolsch:  Similar to a cream ale I had recently that also had a sweetness that reminds one of marshmallows.  This was only up front in this beer and makes me want to keep trying this style and discover its recent hype.
Bock:  Aroma that was smokey like Thanksgiving day roast.  My friend Jim found it "like bourbon... oaky," and he is right on the money.  Taste was a light caramel/molasses with a little bit of honey up front.  Very nice!

AHH!!  Twilight is falling upon us!  Quick get to the other tents.

Ninth Tent: Shiner
102: Aroma of lemon and crystal malt.  Flavor is the same.
Old Ale:  More like a lager than an ale.  Light pilsner without the hops.

The tenth tent was all the AB/InBev products.  However, since we are all familiar with them I won't review them here (but perhaps in an upcoming post).  Kudos to big beer for showing up at a small event (especially since their distributor is about 4 miles away).  They brought some of the good stuff too!  Bass, Stella Artois, Leffe, and Bodingtons

Is there anything more majestic than llamas in the moonlight?
That about sums it up kids.  5 hours, 6 friends, 10 tents, 21 beers, one spirit, and one bloody mary.  Not bad for a days work.  The only thing to make this better is if I win those Poison/Motley Crue tickets I signed up to win.  I'll keep you posted.


  1. Your Father-In-LawJuly 29, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Potosi is worth the effort. We need to take a trip up there.

  2. Done! They did all the convincing at their table.