Wicked Wine Fest and Boston Craft Beer Fest, Spring 2015

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We were lucky enough to be asked to attend the Boston Event Guide‘s Wicked Wine Fest and Craft Beer Fest for Spring 2015.
On our way to the Wicked Wine Fest we got this cool picture of the Hancock tower in Boston.

 

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When we entered both the Wicked Wine Fest and the Craft Beer Fest, we were given a map and list of all the wines/beers, as well as a small plastic cup for sampling.

 

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La Perlina Mosacato
We both liked this wine, a good sweet Mosacto.

 

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Truvee – Red Blend
This sounded like an interesting blend, and we enjoyed it.

 

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Ripe Life – Clambake
A good white wine, despite not being sweet. Described as ‘light, crisp, citrusy, unoaked Chardonnay.’

 

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ERA Organic Wines
Syrah
We really liked this, despite not being huge red wine fans. The description was right on, saying it has ‘raspberry and mocha flavors are followed by sweet cigar tobacco and a lightly oaky finish.’

Montepulciano
This was good as well, a little more body to it with notes of ‘black cherry, plum fruits, sweet oak and peppery spice.’

 

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Enjoying the tasting!

 

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Spiked Seltzer
We tried this for the first time last fall at the beer fest. Good tasting seltzer with alcohol in it. They have Lemon Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, and Cranberry for flavors. We like this, a good summer drink, goes down like a Seltzer and not overly sweet like some other summer drinks. We have heard that you can purchase it in Market Basket, so we will be on the lookout.

 

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Probably Megan’s favorite ‘tasting’ of the day, Vino Gelato! This gelato is made from wine and was delicious!

 

Other wines we liked:

Chloe-Chardonnay
Chloe-Red 249

Terlato-Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon

Ruffino-Sparkling Rose

Anderra-Carmenere

 

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Both festivals are held in the Cyclorama. It is a cool atmosphere, and a large circular room, so it works well for a tasting.

 

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The real downfall to the wine event were the sample pours were very small. At most tables we got really just one sip, so it is kind of hard to judge the wine on just a sip. Then, because of the small pours, everyone would get right back in line. So there was a lot of waiting in line and not a lot of sampling.

 

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From the Craft Beer Fest, outside of the Cyclorama, waiting in line, moved pretty quickly.

 

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Down the Road Brewery – Pukwudgie Pale Ale
This is a new brewery in Newton, MA. They say that ‘we want our line of beers to recall the rich history of lagers and ales that is sometimes ignored or forgotten but never out of fashion.’

 

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Stella Artois – Cidre
Pretty good, very light and refreshing.

 

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Urban Farm Fermentory
Dry Cidah and Kombucha from Urban Farm. We like there stuff as well, fresh and mostly dryer ciders.

 

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Megan and Mark at the tasting.

 

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Downeast Cider House
This is our favorite cider we have had. It’s like real apple cider, not a sugary light version.

 

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Cape Ann Brewing Company was there as well!

 

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By Sam Adams, The Vixen and 26.2 were both beers we haven’t had before, they were both pretty good.

 

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Curious Traveler is one of Megan’s favorite summer beers, but we hadn’t tried all that the Travleler Beer Company had made. Now was our opportunity! We tried both Illusive (grapefruit) and Forbidden (apple). Megan liked the Illusive!

 

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Foolproof Brewing Company
We learned about Foolproof at the last tasting, we liked all their beers. They are in Rhode Island, so we can’t wait to visit.

 

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Taylor and Megan enjoying the tasting.

 

 

IMG_2782Iron Duke Brewing- also local! Can’t wait to try them out!

These we just some of the beers we tasted. This was a good event, not too crowded, the lines weren’t very long, a good variety of breweries and beers.

 

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Taylor came in second place in the dance contest. We got a free round of pictures in the photo booth.

 

Want to go next Fall or Spring? Check out Boston Event Guide’s site! They always have something fun going on, including tastings, booze cruises, trips and more! Check them out! Hope to see you there next time!

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Visit #90! Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

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Our third stop on our most recent trip through Portland with Jason and Maureen was Allagash Brewing. They are right across the street from Bissel Brothers, Foundation, and Austin Street Brewing or should we say they all moved in right across the street from Allagash.

 

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If you want to go for a tour, you need to book it ahead of time. The tours book up quickly, and they try to keep them a fair size- so everyone can see and hear the tour guide. The tour is free, but you have to plan ahead. We booked our tour about two weeks in advance, and booked it for four people- not yet knowing who the other two people would be! We booked for the only time slot that had spots for four people, knowing we would have company. We didn’t want the others to not be able to go. The tour includes a private tasting as well.

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Cool bar in the tap room

 

If you find that you aren’t able to book a tour, you can go to their tasting room and try some there! We were unaware that they had a tap room prior to our visit, but now know we can go anytime we are in the area!

 

Our tour guide was Thadius, a local college student, which he reminded us of several times. His fun loving personality made the tour entertaining but he was also quite knowledgeable about the brewery and was able to answer questions people had.

 

We learned a lot about Allagash while on the tour. They told us what makes them special and different, not just the typical story on how beer is made, so we liked that. We learned that 80% of what they produce is Allagash White. They are the 32nd largest brewery in the US, and still a craft brewery. Their biggest markets are LA, then Chicago and Boston.

 

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They operate a 70 barrel system right now. They expanded 2 years ago, and now they are planning to add more fermenters.

This is inside of the newest part of the brewery. This was the old exterior wall, and they left the old Allagash Brewing Company sign up.

They have a custom BrauKon system for producing as much White and Saison as they can.

 

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This newer system is more computerized, but you still need the brewer to check on things and know how to work the system. They brew 5 days a week, 24 hours a day. They have 15 brewers and over 80 employees.
How are they working to be even more eco-friendly?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
*Their spent grain goes to a local farmer, Norm, to feed to his cows.
*They also use steam energy.
*Just last year, they added a beehive on premise to use the honey in the beer. They are using the most local honey they can, and are helping the honey bee population! Another cool fact about the honey- their Accountant is the bee keeper!
*They have the least water usage of breweries, and use local water coming from Sebago Lake (just over 10miles away)

 

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Old system with Thadius

 

They still use an old 15 barrel system that Rob Tod started with back in 1995. They use this older system for their more experimental brews.

 

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They use Microstar kegs, a co-op program so when they ship full kegs to somewhere like LA, a local brewery reuses instead of shipping empty kegs back to Maine, which not only makes it easier for them, but also is more eco-friendly.

Fun fact- about 60% of their production is put into kegs. This is a lot for a brewery of this size.

 

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barrels in their barrel room. Each has the beer’s name or a code name on it.

 

An interesting sounding beer we heard about in the barrel room was the Koelschip series. The Koelschip series are sour and/or funky beers. They use wild yeast to get the sour flavor, and it takes 3-4 years to actively ferment. Megan really likes sour beers, so we will be on the lookout for any Koelschip series releases!

 

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The oldest barrel we saw.

 

These barrels were in a separate temperature controlled building to age.

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large barrels and fermenting beer

 

Allagash has a pilot system in which employees can submit recipes for brewing. Like their Saison? You can thank an employee for that! The Saison is not their first new year round beer in just about twelve years.

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a little view into how large they actually are…

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empty barrels, ready to be filled

 

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the private tasting area in the barrel room

 

Our tasting:

White – 5.2%
The first Allagash beer. We have all had this before and we have liked it. Maureen thought it was light, Megan and Mark order it out at the bar sometimes.

 

Saison – 6.1%
Recommended to have with spicy food. Light and citrusy with orange and coriander taste. Maureen said it was a titch spicy on the back of the tongue. We all liked this as well.

 

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the Saison mmmmmm

 

 

Four – Quad – 10%
Takes four months to make, uses 4 yeast and is complicated to make. Smooth and very flavorful, we all liked it. Jason liked it so much he bought a bottle there, and has bought 2 more since then.

 

Tripel – 9%
Aged in Jim Beam barrels. Light for being aged in Jim barrels. Maureen said she tasted fruit right on the tongue. Good balance of beer, flavor and fruit. Mark bought a bottle of this.

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Cooler full of brewery only beers as well as beers you will find elsewhere!

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Special Release! Midnight Brett Ale

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Midnight Brett Ale:
Megan opted to purchase this one, despite having not tried it. She understood that Brett Ales can be on the tart side, and loves trying beers like that. It had the flavor and aroma of berries and sour cherries. She was very happy to have bought two bottles. Mark had hoped for a bit more tartness.

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the tap room bar, inside the retail store

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t-shirts galore!

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have a kegerator at home?

 

We enjoyed our visit to Allagash, and liked how the tour was- it wasn’t just the “here’s how we make beer,” but what actually makes them who they are. We will certainly be back, especially to see what special releases they have!

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Want to visit?
HOURS: Monday – Saturday: 10am-5pm.
Last tour at 4pm, taps close at 4:45pm

Check their website or their facebook for any changes.

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************************************
In the area? Besides going across the street to Bissel Brothers,
Foundation and Austin Street, take the drive to:
Urban Farm Fermentory
Shipyard Brewing Co.

New England Distilling, Portland, ME

 

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New England Distilling is located in Portland, ME. This was our first stop on our most recent trip to Portland. We went up with Mark’s brother Jason and his fiancée Maureen.

 

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New England Distilling was started in 2011 and in 2012 started releasing Gin, Rum and Rye Whiskey. They are working on a Bourbon Whiskey now, but that will not be ready for at least a year and a half.

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Ned is the owner and distiller at New England Distilling, NED for short. He is a 6th generation distiller with family history in distilling going back 150 years to Sherwood Whiskey being made in Maryland.

 

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Original Sherwood Whiskey bottle…

 

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with a prescription on the back! This was used during Prohibition.

 

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Old pictures and bottle from the family history.

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Matt explaining the distilling process

 

The whiskey and gin are both grain based, and are first made into a distillers beer. They take special care in this process, it is where the flavor starts. The rum is made from a sugar water base.

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Rum fermenting

 

Each batch size is about 450 – 500 gallons. They ferment on the grains, which is not done while making beer because it can spoil or alter the flavor.

 

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Grain shaker machine

 

They give all the spent grains to a local farmer to feed the cows.

 

The still they use is not a super high efficient still, but it keeps more of the flavor.

 

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They have 2 copper stills

 

They run the whiskey and rum through the still 2 times at different temperatures. They run the gin through a third time with extra botanicals added for flavor.

 

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They use charred, white American oak barrels. They can only use them once, by law, to make American whiskey. A lot of the flavor comes from the barrel, and the charring in particular. The charring helps to release natural flavors and sugars from the wood.

 

They are considering making a non-American style whiskey so they don’t have to turn over barrels so quickly.

 

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Maureen tasting the rum

 

Eight Bells Rum
This is a New England style rum. It starts with molasses, instead of sugar cane which is used in Caribbean rums. The rum is aged in the barrels for 22 months.

The name Eight Bells comes from the bells rung during a duty period upon a ship. The bell was run at every half hour interval for a four hour duty period. Once the eighth bell pattern was complete, your duty was. End of duty meant time for your rum portion!

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The Eight Bells logo is a Winslow Homer painting. They were given permission to use it from the Museum of Art in Portland.

 

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Gunpowder Rye Whiskey
This is a Maryland style rye whiskey, there is no corn used to make this.

 

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It is aged in the barrels for 12 – 15 months in the smaller barrels, 2 years in the 53 gallon barrels.

 

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Grains in the whiskey

 

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Mark and Megan tasting

 

 

Ingenium Gin
The Gin has a floral smell and a floral taste, along with the gin taste. Good balances of flavor, not too much juniper. Both Jason and Megan purchased a bottle of gin!

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Gin

 

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Jason and Maureen having fun

 

 

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Hand bottling ‘machine’

 

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Candle holder made from wine barrel staves

 

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Want to visit?

 

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 12-4
Saturday 10-4
Tours on the hour

Check out their facebook page for more information!

Other places we have visited in Portland:

Urban Farm Fermentory

Shipyard Brewing Company