I've been looking forward to Surlyfest ever since I heard about it and I wasn't disappointed. Luckily Josh was available to head to the fest with me since everybody else seemed to have a prior engagement.
I kicked off the day with a Coffee Bender and when Josh showed up at my house, we had a Surly CynicAle in my bar before we took off for the brewery. I had only had a sample of this before when I took the tour and wasn't super impressed with it but after hearing good things about it I decided to give it another try and picked up a 4-pack at the Crystal Liquor Barrel when I ordered my keg. I'm not sure if there were too many other beers for it to stand out or just my "well it's no Furious" attitude but after giving it another chance it blew me away. I'm sure part of it is the fact that I've been drinking and loving a lot of wheat beers and saisons over the summer but this is one of the top that I've had. Gave it a 3.9 on Rate Beer and said:
Cloudy yellow color, foamy white head that quickly dissipated. Wheat, yeast aroma with a hint of citrus. Wheat flavor with a slight hoppy note, lingering tangy finish. I enjoyed this much more than I did at the brewery tour. It stands up much better alone than in a lineup.
The day started off with a nice bonus as we found out we got 5 drink tokens instead of the 4 that we expected and got better when we heard Tool playing until the first band got fired up.
The place was surprisingly undercrowded for a sold out event but it might have just seemed that way because I'm used to Bockfest in New Ulm. The food was very reasonably priced and pretty kickass (Josh had his first Chicago dog experience). We got at couple of minutes of chat time with Omar and met head brewer Todd as well.
Ran into Alvey from the Four Firkins and he introduced us to some very cool fellow beer lovers. I found out that it's very easy to have a discussion with random strangers at an event like that because you know that most of them probably love the same stuff that you do.
Kudos to Omar for making the call to make the socially responsible decision and limit the number of beers everyone could have instead of seeing how many he could sell in a four hour time period. I would have loved more tokens but it was nice to not have "those guys" in the crowd that are working on their fifth beer by the time you get in the gate.
I didn't do an official rating on the Surlyfest beer even though I had a couple of them but do not fear, Surlyfest made an appearance at the inaugural meeting of Beer Club (more on that to come). It was a great time and I decided that we're definitely getting a good sized group or even a small army to attend next year. You heard me, plan on it next year.