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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Balls Out in Boston: NorCal Brewers at the 2011 Extreme Beer Fest

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 7:48 AM

click to enlarge Sierra Nevada showed up with a Saison brewed with Jelly Bellys. - JASON HENRY
  • Jason Henry
  • Sierra Nevada showed up with a Saison brewed with Jelly Bellys.

The trend toward boundary-pushing extreme beer has gained momentum in recent years, as shelves continue to swell with brews featuring unique ingredients and brewing methods.

If there's one festival that champions this movement, it's Beeradvocate's Extreme Beer Fest in Boston, held Mar. 11-12. This year's ticket sales were indicative of extreme beer's popularity ― while sales typically limp along for a few weeks, every session of this year's event sold out within 8 hours.

Every year, more and more beer geeks brave the Boston winter to explore one of the largest collections of unique beers served under one roof. How about a bourbon barrel-aged IPA with tobacco leaves and smoked tea, meant to replicate the experience of simultaneously indulging in beer, liquor, and a cigar? Why not. Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron ale pulled through a chamber of bacon? Sure. A cream ale brewed with baby formula and served from a modified breast pump? Umm, check.

click to enlarge Dogfish Head's Randall the Enamel Animal drew beer over chunks of bacon. - JASON HENRY
  • Jason Henry
  • Dogfish Head's Randall the Enamel Animal drew beer over chunks of bacon.

This year in Boston, two local breweries represented the Bay Area's brewing talent:

Shmaltz Brewing Co.:

• Origin on Rye: Imperial amber pomegranate ale aged in 6-year-old Sazerac rye barrels

• Meadusa: Albino Python spiced white lager, blended with Redstone mead

• Rejewvenator: Year of the Grape: Hybrid of Doppelbock and Belgian Dubbel styles with Concord grapes

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.:

• Agave Charlie, Fred and Ken's Bock: Helles Bock aged in tequila barrels

• Vintage Bigfoot Barleywine (1996): This style-defining American barleywine is still kicking after 15 years

• Peach Pit: Ale brewed with peach-ginger tea

• Saison de Haricot: Farmhouse saison brewed with Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Like all the extreme brews on display in Boston, this one is best kept out of reach of the kids. Not to mention the faint of heart.

Follow Jason Henry on Twitter @ JasonHenrySF . Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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