Monday, August 26, 2013

Bruegala 2013: Good Beer and Good Fun!

Each August the Bloomington-Normal Jaycees put on a beer festival.  It began in the Sale Barn at the edge of town, moved to the Interstate Center on another edge of town and finally moved to the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts in Downtown Bloomington-conveniently 2 blocks from my apartment!

Since moving to the BCPA, the event has gotten bigger, added wine and better music (Red Wanting Blue!!!) and this year an array of local food trucks graced the event.  And while I love to go for the beer-this has turned into the social event of the season. 

Levi and I (as stated in the previous post) hosted a small dinner party and invited friends to come pre-game, park and eat before heading to Bruegala.  As so many dinners go-we kinda got a late start, but no one seemed to mind.  We didn't get to the Gala until 8pm-2 hours after the event started.  Needless to say, the BCPA was already packed and by the time we go inside to sample beers, we had already run into a few friends.

I'm not even sure how people can get more than a few samples-as stopping to talk is really the most popular of activities here!  My friend Natalie and I had to cut away and sneak off to get our first drink-as we had been there almost 20 minutes and couldn't get to a beer booth before running into someone!  In addition, the glasses are only about 4 oz., so it doesn't take very long to empty ones glass. 

What I like about this event is it gives you the opportunity to find a new favorite beer.  Last year, my new favorite was the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel-its not very easy to find around here, but most of the booths can tell you where to find it in town-which is nice.  Also, when you purchase your tickets, I always grab the list of beers.  This gives me a good lay-of-the-land and also helps me remember the names of the beers the next day.  

Levi's mission each year is to try every pumpkin flavored beer offered.  I'm not sure why, but its pretty entertaining to watch him go though a significant few he doesn't care for!  Every now and again he'll get a pumpkin cider by surprise.  His face is priceless-as he doesn't care for sweet.  Speaking of ciders, rarely do I find something that really puts me off, but this year I found the Woodchuck Belgium White.  I don't mind ciders, but I rarely seek them out-this was something I didn't have a lot of expectation for, but seemed like it could be fun.  It was not fun and won't ever be.  Too many flavors going on, no balance, not good, not even tolerable.  

An honorable mention will go to Left Hand Brewing Company booth.  I found myself returning to their booth a few years ago, trying the extent of their offerings and was happy with each.   I find their product to be balanced and consistently well executed.  

This year, the stand-out for me was Founder's All-Day IPA.  This specific beer was recommended to me a month ago by a friend who owns Art Mart, in Champaign.  This beer was excellent!  Mild for an IPA which makes it really easy drinking.  Also it has a lowered alcohol content (thus the 'all-day' drink-ability factor) and is easy to find locally.  I tweeted my friend and he even told me Founder's will be selling it in cans soon!  This IPA is one to watch!

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