One offs, limited releases, brewery exclusives. Regardless of how such beers get their start, whether to simply mix things up for a brewpub’s more locally based customers, or whether to test run a beer for perhaps larger distribution in the future, or just for the sheer fun in it, most craft breweries are consistently coming up with beers that place somewhere well outside their usual line up. Perhaps they are simply “bigger” beers, monsters in terms of recipe and/or ingredients with an aroma and flavor to match, or perhaps they are less “popular” styles that might seem a bit risky to put to market. No matter the reason for their creation or what sorts of beers they are, these brews often generate plenty of curiosity, due to their limited availability. To try these beers, you often have to be in the right place if not also at the right time. Again, they are usually available only at the brewery’s tasting room or brewpub, and if they see any distribution at all, it is often on a very limited scale. But curiosity is a given characteristic of the true craft beer geek – trying different beers and different styles is why we all got into such beer to begin with. So to say that such limited release beers are not only on our radar, but at the very top of the list, is an understatement indeed.
Imagine then, a beer festival based solely upon featuring such brews. The idea isn’t necessarily a brand new one, as several festivals which are based around offering limited release beers have been going on annually for some time now. A few in North Carolina are reaching their fifth or so year of operation, including ones in Raleigh and Charlotte. But as mid sized cities, such as Roanoke, continue to grow in their overall craft beer appreciation, so does the curiosity for hosting their own rare beer events. Such a festival for the Star City then was perhaps always on the horizon, and simply needed enough interest and enough time to become reality. This Saturday, all the necessary forces have finally come together as Roanoke will host its first rare beer event – “For The Love of the Brew” – held inside the downtown Roanoke Market Building.
Information and details can be found on the event’s Facebook page here. Now onto the beers.
A trio of beers not to miss will be available from Harrisonburg’s Three Brothers. The first is the brewery’s Russian Imperial Stout “Resolute”, followed by their sour style Belgian blonde Savage Blonde, both of which I mentioned recently in a post here. A third will be their richly delicious Dubbel, aged in Rum barrels.
Included in the beers Nelson County’s Devils Backbone is bringing will be their “Dead Bear” Imperial Stout, usually a brewery basecamp exclusive. Dead Bear boasts a creamy mouthfeel and an extremely flavorful taste, plentiful of bittersweet chocolate and some deeply roasted coffee.
Apocalypse Ale Works is bringing a couple of new inventions, their Cenful Blonde and a taste of their collaboration with Devils Backbone’s Brewmaster Jason Oliver, a doppelsticke called Devils Secret, which I wrote up recently in an article here.
From Legend comes a couple of interesting options, the first of which being their monster of a barleywine. The second is an oyster stout called Teach’s Stout, a beer that is part of the brewery’s 2014 Urban Legend series, in which the brewery teams up with a brewer from another Virginia brewery to produce a beer to help celebrate Legend’s 20th anniversary. A good oyster stout is always a personal favorite, and usually pairs the slight briny (or even slightly sweet) flavor from the oysters used to a solid but not overwhelming, dry-ish roastiness of the stout.
Starr Hill, among others, will be offering up what looks like will be a bourbon barrel version of their Cryptical imperial stout.
Sunken City is bringing out roughly three one offs, which should include their California Common lager Steamboat (Steemboat?). I had a chance to taste this at the tap event at Cork & Crust about a week ago, and it was darn good, featuring a sturdy hop (pine? the slightest citrus?) presence that gave the beer plenty of character and a refreshingly bitter snap and a barely there fruitiness that also helped to keep things interesting.
From Victory, bottles of their Old Horizontal barleywine should be available as well as a keg of their seasonal, draft only Hop Ticket Hoppy Wheat ale.
Rare beer events often showcase the extreme in flavorful, aromatic beers. In Roanoke’s first go at such a festival, from headcount alone, it looks like several kinds of stouts will take center stage, which won’t be out of place at all if you love to pair such beers with colder weather. Take the opportunity to taste some limited run, Virginia produced beer, and perhaps most of all, come out to support what hopefully will be the first of many rare beer events for the Roanoke area. Cheers!