Monday, March 26, 2012

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival 2012

After years of finding creative ways not to make it to the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Fest, I finally found myself in the kingdom of booze and swine this past weekend. To put it succinctly, it was one hell of a good time.

I was a little worried as I headed over to the state fairgrounds. The weather was overcast and rainy and I was expecting the event to be held underneath the grandstands of the horse track like the Oktoberfest was held in this past fall. Fortunately, the event was held inside one of the buildings that holds cows and whatnot during the fair. Seems like an even trade....dairy cows for dead pigs and bourbon fueled visitors.
The dead pigs were tasting delicious. I decided to try out Kloby's Smokehouse pulled pork and potato salad. What a winner! The pork was extremely tender and had an awesome bark on the outside that was full of smoky flavor. It was good enough to eat just like that, but being the condiment crackhead I am, I couldn't leave well enough alone and doused it with their Carolina BBQ sauce. It was AWESOME. It had that vinegary and tangy flavor of you expect from Carolina BBQ. My only regret was not pouring more on my sandwich. The potato salad was equally spectacular. I was worried it would be over dressed mayo soup or just nasty in some way due to them having to make everything in bulk, but it was really tasty. When I dream of potato salad (which is frequent) this is the kind of potato salad I dream of. The whole meal was so good (the Carolina BBQ in particular) that I plan on making a special trip to Kloby's in Laurel at some point this summer.

The bourbon offerings were plentiful. There were a ton I've never heard of (I'm not much of a liquor drinker) and a lot of the usual suspects like Makers Mark, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam. Due to the fact that I have no idea how to pace myself when it comes to drinking bourbon, I decided to take it easy and limited myself to only 2 bourbons. My girlfriend wanted to try the Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon and so we did. It was what the french call yucky. Actually, it was more confusing than anything. The initial hit was sweet tea and you're thinking "hey, this is good". But then you swallow and you're left with a very strong alcohol/bourbon burn in your throat. I wasn't digging the juxtaposition.

The only other bourbon I tried was Makers Mark 46. That was actually very good and something I could actually see myself sipping on the rocks or mixed with coke. They say this isn't a taste you have to "acquire" and I believe them. My girlfriend, Deana, who is no fan of liquor even enjoyed this one.

Speaking of Makers Mark, they had someone there who would "wax" your sampling glass. I thought that was extremely cool but I missed out on getting my glass waxed. I thought they were going to do be doing it throughout the day not realizing they had a limited amount of wax. Oh year!

But now to my favorite part of the event. Beer. I went in with the expectation that this was going to be limited to all local beers like the Oktoberfest that I mentioned earlier was. No, they had EVERYTHING there and then some. Below is everything I tried, with the standouts in bold and italics.

  • Oskar Blues Mamas Lil Yella Pils
  • Shiner Bock Dortmunder
  • Sam Adams Summer Lager
  • The Raven
  • Tommy Knocker Maple Nut Brown
  • 16 Mile Responders
  • Lancaster Amish 4 Grain
  • Dogfish Head Aprihop
  • Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout
  • Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale
  • Chick Beer
  • Stoudts Pils
  • Sprecher Maibock
  • Yards Pale Ale
  • Spaten Franziskaner (this was the winner by far)
  • Duclaw Euphoria
  • Harpoon Summer Beer
  • Moosehead Lite Lime
  • Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
If you've never made it to the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ fest make it a priority next year. It's a great time. 2012 isn't all that old yet, but this was probably the highlight of the year so far for me. Without a doubt I will be returning next year and the year after.....

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