Sunday, May 22, 2011

Omaha Beer Fest Recap

If you build it they will come.  No not a baseball field, a beer fest!  This Friday and Saturday was Omaha's Beer Fest at the Lewis and Clark Landing.  The Mrs and I made the pilgrimage north for the weekend to wrap up this weeks Craft Beer Week festivities.  And what a way to do it than with 31 breweries on the banks of the Missouri River.

The trip started out a little soggy.  Rain accompanied us all the way up I-29.  When we arrived the rain dissipated to a sprinkle and then to nothing.  Was this the beer gods watching over the FatCat?  We made the decision to hit the festival on Friday night to hopefully avoid any huge crowds.  We found the location and parked.  Three steps outside and it was clear the rain gods had kicked the beer gods' ass.  It started pouring.  We were hunkered together under a single umbrella and ventured on.  Needless to say the number of people willing to endure the monsoon were few.  There was immediate access to 31 breweries and their brew.  So if you overlook the fact we were the equivalent of drowned rats, this was awesome.  I mentioned in my recap of the Parkville festival I was glad the Mrs had a tasting glass so I could try more beers in the huge crowds.  Well this time it backfired.  After we got to the third tent in short order, the Mrs threw in the towel.  This left me two tasting glasses and 28 more breweries to sample.  Sounds great in theory but quickly became a daunting task.  I marched onward and with careful planning I was able to exit the festival under my own power.

The brew was outstanding.  One of my favorites was Crabtree Brewing Company out of Greeley, Colorado.  They have a delicious oatmeal stout that is sweet with hints of molasses.  It was my favorite of the festival and I went back to get seconds.  The Mrs liked their Ginger Bee Blonde Ale.  They also had a mixed beer of 50% Ginger Bee and 50% Twisted Creek Wheat which they deemed the "Killer Bee".  It had a unique taste which was crisp and refreshing.  With this being my favorite brewery and their Oatmeal Stout being one of the best stouts I have tried, I was disappointed.  Dissappointed in the fact that this small brewery doesn't distribute to the KC area, or so I thought.  The day after the festival while perusing the internet I discovered to my surprise that Crabtree distributes in Kansas City.  Yesssssssss!  Of course this didn't keep me from going to Hy Vee in Omaha and buying every bottle of Crabtree Oatmeal Stout they had.

Other brews of note were Empyrean Dark Side Vanilla Porter and Goose Island's Peres Jacques.  There were a couple oak and/or barrel aged beers at the festival that intrigued me.  These wood aged beers were sour, which I have not experienced before.  I didn't really care for them but they were interesting. 

If you are keeping score, this is my second beer festival.  The first being the Parkville Beer festival last month.  My thoughts on how the festivals compare are as follows.  The Parkville festival was better overall in my opinion.  Omaha's Beer fest was $35.00 per ticket and you got a cheesy plastic tasting glass.  The printed tasting guide in Omaha was full of advertisements and didn't list the beers the breweries were pouring.  The breweries in Omaha didn't bring anything special to pour.  It was just their everyday brews.  In Parkville several of the breweries had special brews, even though they ran out by the time we got to them.  I did like how Omaha's festival was two days, which I hope Parkeville would consider in the future.

One of our stops outstide of the beer fest was Stella's.  That cheeseburger was legendary.  And yes that is a Summer Shandy in the picture.  It felt like a summer day Saturday and the Shandy felt right.  It's a brew I usually buy once a summer as a tradition.  If you have not tried the Summer Shandy I recommend at least trying it.  I was "tricked" into buying it the first time.  I didn't realize it's beer mixed with lemonade, which I would normally not be a fan of, until after I bought it.  But I was pleasantly surprised and it has become one of my summer beers. 

Danger... Rant ahead!
(those with weak stomachs please look away)

Our hotel was in the downtown Old Market area of Omaha and our room was right off one of the main streets.  During the day Omaha has many parks and recreation areas that are beautiful.  But when the light fades "they" come out.  Apparently when the hotel we stayed in was constructed, windows made of tissue paper were within specifications.  I say this because you could hear everything from the street in our room.  When it came to 2:30AM we were blessed with the bars closing and people walking down the street.  What would posses an adult to spontaneously yell WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! while walking down a street at 2:30AM is beyond me.  And then it was like a mating call because several other douchebags would answer the first douchebags' love call.  Perhaps the combination of the street light glinting off of foil tiger shirts and the breeze blowing through their faux-hawks is so much stimulation that they must make douchebag mating calls.  Just a guess. With all the talk of the Rapture this weekend I figured I could turn to prayer to help me out with this overabundant douchebaggery.  I began to pray, prayed for Steve Buscemi with a sniper rifle or that M.Night Shyamalan's movie The Happening had some shred of truth in it and trees could really kill people.  Amen.  Nothing, damn maybe I should have prayed to Joe Pesci. 


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