Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Flagstaff BrewHaHa 2012

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone out in Blogland! I hope you feel loved on this most made up of holidays! I never really celebrated this day with any seriousness as an adult until I started dating BK. And since then our activities and gifts for this day have been definitely about celebrating the things we love. Whether it be food, drink, entertainment, or just expressing extra sentiments on that day, we try to embrace good quality fun and enjoyment without making it about getting the right present or the right chocolates or flowers etc. One of those fun things is a grown up event we have taken part in the past two years.

I don't think I ever blogged about it, but last year we started a tradition of attending a local event the weekend of Valentine's Day. Flagstaff BrewHaHa is a semi-formal beer tasting event featuring over 30 local, and regional breweries. All of the proceeds go towards Habitat for Humanity.

I first came across this event two or three before Christmas when I noticed a sidebar ad on Facebook. I usually never pay attention to sidebar ads but I am glad I did this time. I went through some detective work and decided this would be a half Christmas and half V-day gift. We had so much fun last year, that we did not hesitate to purchase tickets again this year.

Last year we had some pet peeves, and there were some oversights on the part of the organizers, but that can be expected for the first run of an event. Last year there were some pretty horrible brewers. Thankfully, they were not back this year and we had some better choices. Also, last year the food was served at hot stations on either side of the main ballroom. If you were there within three minutes of the food being set out, you weren't getting anything. This year the food was in the form of waiter passed appetizers. It was a much better arrangement. This year we also got some great commemorative mini pint style glasses. As far as the food went there were meat skewers, Swedish meatballs, Jalapeno Poppers and Bruschetta. There could have been other options but I don't think we had any of those. Our favorite was definitely the meatballs. Loved them! The beef skewers were my least favorite.

This year some of our favorites returned Locals included Mogollon Brewing, Flagstaff Brewing Company and Lumberyard Brewing Company. We also got to try two new brewers in town; Mother Road and Hops on Birch. Regional favorites included Oskar Blues, and New Belgium. I could go on and on about each of the beers we tasted but that would take forever. I will however talk about our favorites and the winners of the Best Brew Contest.

The winners for the Best Brew were:
1st: Kono Brewings KoKo Brown Ale
This was probably my least favorite of the top three. Described as having a nutty, toffee flavor and aroma. Although it is listed as a Nut Brown, it was deeper and thicker like a porter. It also had a distinct coffee flavor and the coconut was not very apparent.
2nd: Cocoa Molé Brew
This one is described as "spiced up ale full of cocoa and ancho, guajillo, chipotle peppers" paired with caramel and chocolate malts for a smooth and complex flavor. It is finished off with cinnamon. To be honest, this beer reminded me of a gingerbread house! It was pretty awesome. The best of the top three winners.
3rd: Crispin Craft Cider
I am not exactly sure which of their offerings won the distinction. However, I did have 3 of the 4 ciders they brought. Two were artisanal type ciders. They are less refined and had a clean yet rustic flavor to them. While the Cocoa Molé was my favorite overall, Crispin would win as something I could drink all the time, whereas the Cocoa Molé would have to be limited.

Honorable Mentions:
Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Ale- This is Berkeley's absolute favorite of the entire night. I am not a huge fan but it definitely had the deep malty flavor that is characteristic of Scotch Ales. It had a little bit of creaminess to it and a hint of smokiness. I was not a huge fan but it was one of the best dark beers I have ever had! Oskar Blues also wins for best names with Mama's Little Yella Pils the name of their pilsner in reference to The Stones' song about barbiturates.
Mogollon Brewing Mesquite Wildfire Porter- This was another great brew worth mentioning. Last year Berkeley got to sample a limited run of mesquite whiskey, their year we got to taste their mesquite porter. I think it won BK's heart with its name and that familiar smoke flavor. Personally, I felt it was good as a tasting thing, but I could not imagine drinking a whole pint of this beer. It was thick and rich.

Overall, we had a fabulous time and we are looking forward to attending this event as many times as we can in the coming years. It will be exciting to see how it grows over time.

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