After the SausageFest, I Got into Some Mischief.

It was a busy beer weekend!

I don’t normally go to multiple events in a weekend, but a desire to check out the beers of OffColor Brewing combined with an unexpected chance to meet an internet beer buddy, Jeremy of SubBeerBia and an afternoon free of any other commitments (indeed, Bill was even off to a coffee event one day!) had last weekend’s afternoons booked in dedication of beer.

Before you ask, no, I was not hungover Monday. You didn’t get a post because there were some unexpected issues in our life (like a ceiling leak suddenly getting worse). BUT! I’ll concede it’s a reasonable question.

I met Jeremy and his wife, Sadie, at SausageFest. I also lucked into meeting Lori, a very new twitter friend. Lori had a nice guy with her, I believe her husband, but (embarrassingly) I don’t recall his name. I hope to meet them again soon.

SausageFest was a beer-, cheese- and (of course) sausage-themed event at Haymarket Pub and Brewery. As you can imagine, I’m not the only one who has had some fun with the festival name! There were about 21 beers on tap, ten sausages and ten cheeses. The idea was to have fun pairing the beers with the food.

This is exactly the kind of fun I like to have. Beer is fun, food is great, but learning the magic of how they go together is the best thing.

Unfortunately, and I suspect largely because it was a first time event, the set-up was not terribly conducive to this. Haymarket cleared out the bar and their big front room of all chairs and most tables, put out a few barrels, and set up. The sausages and cheese were in the bar are on the bar itself or on high top tables across from the bar. This was a great set-up that allowed patrons to come through and queue for food pretty efficiently, as well as staff1 to through the lines to refill the food as needed. The beer was in the other room on low-top tables, and volunteers1 were pouring.

The rest of the room was largely empty of stuff. The few barrels they’d put in and the high topped tables they’d left were, of course, quickly snagged by early-arrivals2, and the three unremovable booths were all reserved3.

As there was no place to put coats, nor an obvious place for most people to set down food or beer, things started getting placed in precarious spots. And, really, that’s what it came down to. In a crowded room, there wasn’t a lot of space to move or get to specific beers or sausages easily (especially when you’re fairly short – a problem I imagine most folks won’t have) or to then consciously pair what you did manage to get at. A coat rack, honestly, would have solved a lot of my problems. Even without a place to set food and beer down, I could have managed a lot more easily if I’d had both hands free and the full range of motion in my arms.

I ended up treating SausageFest like the few other beer-only-focused events I’ve been too, catching food as I could and trying beers as I could. And socializing, in this case mostly with Jeremy and Sadie. All in all I enjoyed myself immensely, and I’m looking forward to going again next year, if it turns out to be a recurring event. I’ll just cross my fingers for a coat rack!

Oh, and a huge bonus for me? The folks at SausageFest didn’t blink or (until the very end) falter when I asked for short pours. I suspect this is a rarity, but it allows me to taste more when I’m not full and haven’t dulled my senses. Huge thanks for that.

18 March 2013 Edit: It turns out this is not SausageFest’s first year, as I say above. However, I don’t know how long it’s been going on. No more than three years, as share a birthday with their opening day, and was there for the first beers they poured back in 2010.

Mischief was wholly different for me. I’d been curious about OffColors’ beers for awhile, but this was partially because one of the brewers often has me in stitches on twitter. The fact that he seems to know everyone at the Field Museum and I don’t know why also doesn’t hurt.

I know, that’s not really relevant to his brewing skills, but something’s got to make a place stand out, and that was it for me.

Mischief was held at Black Rock, a bar which I found nice and cozy and wished I lived near. It was also incredibly crowded, but there were a lot of tables, such that my friend Jason and I got one and were able to chat over our beers.

There were four collaboration beers (OffColor Brewing + another brewery) on tap, and several guest beers. Since my focus was on checking out the OffColor brews, I made a point to try all four of them. I really can’t imagine anyone there did not4.

I truly enjoyed them all, and since I live very near Haymarket Pub, I’m hoping to get one more crack at their collaboration Halfbock, which was very crisp and had flavors I couldn’t place. Of course, it was my third beer of the afternoon, so my tastebuds were a bit muddled.

I was wary of their collaboration with 3Floyds, as I love everything I love from 3Floyds, but they make a lot that’s just too hoppy out of there for me. I was wrong to be wary. Jason called it hoppy, at first, but I disagree. I think it just had a lot of hop notes on the aroma and a faint hint of bitterness lingered on as you finished each sip. It was a beer that demanded you love and remember it.

I expected my favorite beer of the night to be the Metropolitan Brewing collaboration smoked beer, as that’s where I usually land. Indeed, I’d give a lot to be able to share this with Marty, MBBB. He is also a big fan of the smoked beer, and this isn’t your average smoked beer. Though I don’t know if he’d say “smokey” is his favorite beer adjective. (I would, though.)

However, it was the pink rice pilsner that put me over the moon. Also in collaboration with Metropolitan Brewing, this one was delightful. I couldn’t see the color well, as the place was pretty damn dark, but I hope the pink tints to it are real and not just candle-lit figments of my imagination. It had some tartness and little flavors exploded with each bubble on the tongue. But what really blew my mind was how much it reminded me of bread, and more than that, “Bread-weiser”, this beer I loved that Marty, MBBB, made on a whim out of bread5. I had to text him right a photo right away, with some comments.

I didn’t tell him that this beer is what “Bread-weiser” wanted to be when it grew up…

The last, and cutest, highlight of the night were the dinosaur s’mores they were selling. They were incredibly tasty, and very much made me wish I generally carried more cash, because I was only able to purchase one. Of course, it might be for the best, as if I’d bought three or so dinosaur s’mores, there probably would have had to have been dinosaurs fighting at my table, and that’s just not dignified6.

fn1. I cannot tell you how grateful I always am for staff and volunteers at the beer events I go to. They work hard and make it the best event they can, every time.

fn2. Usually me, but not this time. I can’t begrudge them their table. The perks of being early!

fn3. I have no idea how one got a reserved table.

fn4. That said, I did NOT make a point to try the firkin of gin and tonics possibly made by one of the brewers (unclear) or any of the other awesome cocktails wandering around. I only have so much liver, and on Sunday it was dedicated to the exploration of beer.

fn5. First, I have no idea what “out of bread” means. I’ve never managed to ask. Secondly, Marty, MBBB, is always a bit perplexed when I just LOVE one of his incredibly experimental beers. I think he deemed “Breadwiser” merely “drinkable.” Whereas I was like, “I WANT ALL THIS BEER.

fn6. Don’t care. There’s something awesome about Triceras’more fighting Tyranas’morus Rex. And then me getting to bite off both their heads.