WCTE PBS Blues and Brews Craft Beer Festival 2017: Cookeville, TN
Blues and Brews
Last month, I ran for beer and Public Television (not necessarily in that order).
As a fairly new, and introverted resident of Cookeville TN, I am always excited to find events for grown-ups that will keep me involved in the community while helping me avoid my natural inclination to hide at home under the covers and plot how to collect more cats.
The WCTE Haunted Half Marathon and The Blues and Brews Craft Beer Festival were such occasions. An added bonus (or perhaps the selling point for each), was that WCTE provided a package deal in which race participants could also purchase a discounted VIP ticket to The Blues and Brews Craft Beer Festival, both events benefiting WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS. I run sometimes for health (mostly mental), and I am a craft beer enthusiast (which is arguably also for mental health), so it seemed like a good combination of events for me. I could spend the morning running, then spend all afternoon recovering from the run by filling and refilling my 3oz commemorative taster glass with delicious, guilt-free beer.
The run was great (I got 168th place), but lets get down to the beer part:
Blues & Brews started out several years ago as a small fundraiser for WCTE, the local TN Upper Cumberland PBS affiliate station. Initially, it was a small event that took place in the evening where patrons could listen to music and enjoy local food and beer pairings. However, as more and more patrons expressed interest in craft beer, and the craft beer buzz grew in the community, the event took a turn and became what has now been the 4th year as a true craft beer festival.
The Blues & Brews festival is unique in that it takes place in Cookeville’s Dogwood Park and offers a smaller, more intimate setting than many other festivals. It generates the feeling of meeting friends for a casual gathering in the park, rather than being swallowed whole by a vicious crowd monster when you enter. Once you do enter, there are a lot of beer choices, including everything from widely distributed craft beers to local home brews. In fact, The Regional HomeBrewers Association enforced WCTE’s mission to educate, inform and inspire by providing brewing demonstrations and answering any questions patrons may have.
Unfortunately, I missed this part because I was completely sucked in by the 9 featured local TN breweries. Since I was, (and still am) in TN, I decided to focus on the beers from TN, and devise a list of my top 5 favorites.
Top 5 Favorite TN Beers at the Festival
I was not able to taste all of the TN beers at the festival and remain standing, but of the many MANY beers I did taste, these were my favorites.
1. Beer Is My Weiss – Hix Farm Brewery
Beer is My Weiss is a Berliner Weiss with an ABV of 4.8% which is slightly higher than the typical Berliner Weiss ABV of 3.0%. It’s a cloudy sour with a refreshing tartness that tastes almost as if the beer were a lemonade with a hint of grapefruit. As with any other Berliner Weiss it is often served with flavored syrups, but I loved it untainted, as it was served at the festival.
2. The Trail Ale – Calfkiller
The Trail Ale is described as being inspired by granola, which coincidentally is something I am also inspired by. It is brewed with barley, oats, wheat, apples, coconut, almonds, brown sugar, local honey and then secondarily fermented with raisins, honey and more almonds. I felt like hiking, even after running 13.1 miles. People often describe unexplained inclinations as ‘something in the water’. In this case, it was something in the beer.
3. Bear Walker Maple Brown – Jackalope
Bearwalker is described as a brew that was influenced by the brew master’s Vermont roots. Pure maple syrup is infused during the conditioning phase, and is noticeable from start to finish. Chocolate malts add roasted notes to the flavor and aroma. It is also more highly hopped than most browns to create a balanced, yet complex brew.
* An added bonus tidbit of info is the namesake, which was derived from a legendary creature with the ability to shape-shift between human and bear form. I find this namesake to be almost as appealing as the beer. Almost.
4. Voodoo Heat – Theoretic Ales
Voodoo Heat was the most unique beer I tasted at the festival (or have ever tasted, for that matter). It is a spiced rum barrel aged sour made with wild green onion and smoked mortilla peppers. At first, I thought this to be a rather befuddling combination, but it came through with a hot and sour herbal bite that was surprisingly delicious. It is one of several herbal sours by Theoretic Ales. The Brewery is also releasing a golden herbal sour called Lick My Sage in Nevada this month. If you are in Nevada, keep an eye out for it!
5. The Brown Recluse – Calfkiller
Calfkiller made my list of favorites for a second time with The Brown Recluse. It is described as having flavors of dark caramel and brown sugar that crawl across the palette and finish with just a little bite from a mysterious blend of British and American hops. I don’t normally fancy the idea of any type of arachnid crawling across my palette, but I found myself making an exception for this one.
I fully intend to repeat the events of this past October, next year, at which point I will strive to achieve 157th place in the run, and spend more time in the home brew section at the festival.