Temperatures fell as the afternoon wore on at the eleventh annual tasting event, but good craft beer was never in short supply. I didn't have the wallet or the stamina to sample even half of the 47 possibilities available, but that didn't keep me from picking favorites:
- Brewdog Tokyo (18.2% ABV). Call it what you will, but Tokyo packs a punch, even in small servings. Classified as an imperial stout, this nearly black liquid resembles a barleywine in some ways and has a smell that reminded me of balsamic vinegar. This may be due to the addition of jasmine and cranberries.
- Green Flash Palate Wrecker (9.4% ABV). Unless you can handle 100 IBUs, keep your distance. Pouring a bright yellow-orange with a thick, foamy white head, this creation from Green Flash is probably the hoppiest beer I've tried yet. With an intensely resiny aroma and a bold, oily flavor, I found it uniquely deserving of the title imperial IPA.
- Weyerbacher Blasphemy 2007 (11.8% ABV). A quadruple aged in oak barrels, Blasphemy is certainly a complex drink that I'd describe as buttery and intoxicating. The amber color is alluring, and yet the aroma of bourbon signals that this isn't a beer to be trifled with. Outstanding in small quantities.
- Southern Tier Imperial Mokah (10.9% ABV). Just about the closest anyone's come to Hershey's syrup in a 22-ounce bottle. If, like me, you're a drinker with a sweet tooth, then this exceptionally silky, malty stout is deserving of your hard-earned cash. Although the brewery only releases it seasonally, Mokah could easily be enjoyed year round.
- Spring House Kerplunk (8.1% ABV). Named for the sound that chocolate makes when dropped into a brew kettle, Kerplunk has the ebony color you'd expect in an imperial stout but was less dense than some versions of this style. Caramel and bitter cocoa stood out right away, as did a hint of tobacco in the finish.
- Voodoo Grand Met (10.0% ABV). Dry, deceptively strong, and the color of polished brass, Voodoo Grand Met is a nice example of a French biere de garde or maybe a Belgian spiced ale. Made in Pennsylvania with German pilsner malt, cane and beet sugar, it stood out in a field crowded with big beers.