Tasting notes from Capital Starkbierfest

Leave it to me to post about a German beer festival on St. Patty’s Day(?).

Last Saturday I attended the Capital Brewery’s first Starkbierfest. Starkbier (strong beer) festivals occur in Bavaria in March and were originally started by monks at the Paulaner brewery centuries ago. The fine folks at Capital decided to give this concept a try: expanding the concept to both strong and sour beers. Several local/regional breweries participated.

It was fun to see a few folks (and seemingly more as the afternoon wore on) don monkish robes and regale in Saturday’s chilly weather at the Capital Beer Garten. It was a fun festival that was really well run and I look forward to the Parched Eagle hopefully participating next year! I did spread the Parched Eagle word to several locals in attendance: the response was positive! On to tasting notes…,

…here are my top five tastes from Starkbierfest:

1)Barrel aged Toil & Trouble from Sweet Mullets.

This is a collaboration beer from Sweet Mullets and Vintage Brewery. I had the Vintage non barrel-aged version at the Mason Lounge last year and was duly impressed. The Sweet Mullets’ whiskey barrel aged version was even better! Toil & Trouble is a gruit: an ancient style of ale that traditionally used a variety of herbs and spices that pre-date the use of hops in beer. Toil & Trouble has heather and mugwort in it.

Another aspect of ancient styles of beer is an intrinsic sour character as brewers of yesteryear did not engage in proper sanitation methods. Toil & Trouble has a wonderful sour character that is pretty similar to a Belgian Flemish Red ale. I think the reason why I liked Sweet Mullets’ better is not the fact that it’s barrel aged, but rather that the sour character has developed wonderfully over the past several months since I had the Vintage version. So nice I went back twice!

2)Potosi Brewery Barleywine.

Holy crap what a sublime huge caramel malt slap across the face! Wonderfully complex throughout in terms of sweetness, toasted malts, alcohol, and dark fruity esters. All of these were balanced out just enough by hop bitterness and (very little) hop flavor and aroma. Very well done effort at an English barleywine and the 12% abv was actually fairly well masked. So nice I went back twice!

3)Vintage Trompe Le Monde.

Not only possibly named after a Pixies album, also a damn interesting and tasty beer! Part Imperial IPA and part Saison, the marriage of French Saison yeast (one of my favorite strains that will be used for all of the Parched Eagle’s saisons) with tropical citrusy hops totally works! Wicked at 9.5% abv. I think this hybrid works because Saison is one of the hoppier Belgian styles: the yeast works really well with significant hop bitterness as well as flavor and aroma.

4)Next Door Brewery Heather Sent Wee Heavy.

The use of heather tips lends a really interesting earthy flavor to this big (9.3% abv) scotch ale. It starts earthy and finishes caramel malty: nice!

5)House of Brews Strong Ale brewed with honey.

The honey lent an almost mead-like flavor that nonetheless finished dry rather than sweet with some nice balancing bitterness. Nice!

IF the Parched Eagle participates next year we’ll have a lot of fun thinking about our beers to offer. The possibilities are many. Hmm, maybe Geronimo with Verily and Brookie’s Sour Brown?


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