From Rob Fink. Follow him on Twitter @RobDFink or email him at rob[AT]borderstan.com.
On a beautifully crisp Saturday afternoon, clear rays of sun shone over Yards Park, east of Nationals stadium. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, (owner of Borderstan’s Churchkey and Birch and Barley, and the group’s forthcoming brewery Bluejacket) picked the perfect fall day to host Snallygaster, a true beer festival.
Beer styles that exemplify the autumn season (which I’ve written about here and here and here), such as Oktoberfests, Pumpkin Ales and Fresh or wet-hop beers were free flowing. Attendees also sought to quell their hunger with items such as the standard yet extraordinary Churchkey tater tots or more unusual fare such as fried pig tail. I, however, indulged with an old-fashioned roasted turkey leg.
To say that Snallygaster provided enough competent beer choices would be a gross understatement. Because of my predisposition towards beers with substantial hop character, the inimitable Founders Harvest Ale, served on cask, was an obvious first choice. Once my hand had warmed the beer somewhat, an aroma of peach and sweet melon virtually leaped out of the glass. Couple that with the sting of pine needles washed with grapefruit (some of the world’s best hoppy beers exhibit this character) and I had the perfect accompaniment to the pleasant briskness of the autumn air; it was one of those ephemeral moments worthy of thorough enjoyment.
After my first beer, I had trouble picking my next target – this is not a bad problem to have. Fresh D.C. upstarts 3 Stars Brewing provided the other pleasant surprise in the hop category. The brand’s eponymous Harvest Ale proved to be on equal footing with the Founders example. Brewed exclusively with Citra hops, this 6.6 percent aromatic behemoth burst with tropical fruit sweetness and musky grass with a pleasingly dry finish; most definitely a beer which I would like to have more of.
As of this writing, this to-be-cherished local tipple can be found in Borderstan on draft at the venerable Pizzeria Paradiso at 2003 P Street NW. Perhaps this speaks to the quality of the event, but after making my beer selection, I had another other, equally “good” problem – that of complete relaxation.
My final beer choice transported me back to Munich. Mad Fox Brewing Company and Bluejacket had just released a collaborative Weizenbock (much in the vein of this beer, in my opinion) dubbed “Mad Jacket,” and it did not disappoint.
Tangy sourdough from the malted wheat seamlessly combined with banana-laden esters, along with just enough body and heft to help me finish out the day. Perhaps Bluejacket could make a full production run of this gem once they open in early 2013? Either way, Snallygaster was a wonderful way to spend a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon and already got me thinking about how to prepare for next year’s festivities.