Who says you can’t enjoy a Brew fest if you have a gluten intolerance?
The 2nd Annual Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest took place this past weekend at The Armory in Somerville, and it was a big success! HCB is a major annual fundraiser presented by The Boston Local Food Committee of the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) that highlights and promotes local brewers of beer, cider & mead, artisan beverage makers, home brewers, and food vendors.Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest is a unique event that not only showcases local beverage producers, but also showcases local brews incorporating local ingredients!
This event is not all about beer. There were plenty of ciders, wines, meads and other beverages to try. I was quite surprised at the number of cider breweries that were present at the event.
Downeast Cider was offering samples of their original blend and cranberry blend ciders.
The Original Blend is made from freshly pressed local apples. Downeast Cider never adds concentrate, artificial flavors or sweeteners to their ciders either. I loved the interesting twist of the cranberry blend, in fact, it was one of my favorite ciders of the night.I also enjoyed Farnum Hill Cider’s Summer Cider. It was light and refreshing. Urban Farm Fementary was also on hand, sampling their cider and kambucha teas. After speaking with UFF founder Eli last week on the phone, I was excited to finally try his stuff. The cider was tart, and I was not a fan. The kambucha on the other hand was absolutely delicious. I loved the Chaga Chai made with chaga mushrooms and ginger. I can’t wait until they start selling this in Boston (really soon!). You can read more about UFF here.
I’m not a big Mead drinker, because I find it to be too sweet, but for Mead lovers Moonlight Meadary was there for the second year in a row sampling 4 of their 26 flavors of Mead.
New this year, SBN launched their first Hyper-Local Home-Brew Showcase Night, highlighting home-brews and home-brewing with local ingredients. The Showcase, featuring a Homebrew Club Jamboree, provided a chance for aspiring brewers, brew fans and the curious minded to experiment, learn more about home brewing, interact with other aspiring brewers, as well as taste a selection of the brews.
Again, I was impressed with the number of ciders and gluten free options, including a gluten free braggot (fermented beverage) made with mead and sorghum extract instead of the traditional barley malt. The result was a surprisingly refreshing, well-balanced beverage that tastes vaguely like cider. Randy Baril of Homebrew Emporium, located in Cambridge, was the mastermind behind this drink. He also also made an Australian Shiraz. This medium bodied wine was robust and had notes of blackberries and spices. I enjoyed it a lot. There was also a Johannesburg Riesling, made by Erik Baxtrom, but as a non-riesling drinker I passed on this one.
The Northshore Brewers sampled two ciders on Friday night, one made with apples from Gould Hill Farm and the other with apples from Brooksby Farm. Made from different types of apples, these were remarkably different. Gould Hill Farm was my favorite of the two, and one of my favorites of the night.
I also tried Grown-up Soda (GuS). The ginger ale tasted like ginger ale ought to taste. The lemon flavor was very tart and not very sweet. All 4 flavors – cranberry lime, extra dry ginger ale, lemon, and grapefruit – are 100% natural, made with real juices, natural extracts and cane sugar (not corn syrup).
While having unlimited tastings from local brewers I was also able to sample, and purchase, delicious gluten food from Vermont Smoke & Cure, Q’s Nuts, and The Chicken and Rice Guys.
Vermont Smoke & Cure are makers of some of the finest sausages, bacon ham and other smoked meats. All of their products, except for the Beer Brats are made without gluten, MSG, milk products, nuts, antibiotics and preservatives. The smoked peppercorn had a great kick to it. The chipotle was too spicy for me and my low heat tolerance; I don’t know why I even tried it! Q’s nuts is a small family owned and operated nut artisan company in Somerville. Flavors include original sweet roasted cashews, peanuts, pecans, and almonds, as well as more exotic varieties including key lime ginger, Mexican chocolate, chocolate raspberry, sweet and sassy, rosemary sea salted, banana foster, and chocolate coconut. I buy these almost every week at the farmers market.
For dinner I had a plate from The Chicken and Rice Guys, that included chicken, lamb and rice. The house yogurt sauce was the only one that was known to be 100% gluten free. The BBQ sauce may or may not have been, one of the cooks did not know because they left the larger bottle in the truck. But honestly, it didn’t need the sauce because the meats were flavorful enough on their own. For those of you thinking about attending a brewfest, and if it’s worth it or not, I’d say it is. There was plenty for me to sample and taste.
The 4th annual Local Craft Brewfest at Moakley Courthouse is taking place Saturday Ocotber 12, 2013. This could be your chance to try some amazing local wines, ciders and mead!
Disclaimer: I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.