In celebration of American Craft Beer Week, Powers Distributing held their first Craft Beer Expo at Canterbury Village in Lake Orion on Wednesday. Now that we’re in mid-May, and the threat of snow finally seems to have dissipated, this event was a great kickoff to what will be many summer beer events.
The first place I beelined it for was the Samuel Adams table in hopes that they would have some special brews that you can’t normally find on shelves. My boyfriend and I traveled to Boston in February during freak storm Nemo and were snowed in the majority of the weekend. The storm finally settled down on our last day, allowing us to make one final stop at the Samuel Adams Brewery for a private tour. The brewery in Boston is their hub for research and development, so you get to sample a lot of beers that you wouldn’t normally find bottled. If you’re ever in Boston, the tour is definitely a must!
Most of the beers at the Samuel Adams table were iconic staples like Boston Lager, Summer Ale, etc. However, they did have a few options available from their Barrel Room Collection that I had yet to try. Word on the street is that the Barrel Room Collection may even be hitting shelves soon. Two of the tasting options were IPAs–sorry for you hop lovers, but I am not a big IPA fan so I skipped those–and the other was the 13th Hour Stout. It had a little more of a tart taste than most of the stouts I prefer, but I still enjoyed it. Overall, it had a nice flavor. On a side note, I really loved the look of the bottle. There were so many well-designed labels in the special collections at the Boston brewery, so it was fun to see that design element make it onto this bottle.
As with any beer event, you have to go in with a goal of what you want to try or you’ll never make it around to everything. After stopping at a few of my favorite Michigan breweries in the room, like Kuhnhenn, I decided to spend the rest of the evening stepping away from my preferred brewers and trying some varieties that I don’t normally drink.
My first stop was the Tommyknocker table where I sampled the Maple Nut Brown Ale. I’ve never had Tommyknocker before and the first thing I noticed about this brew was the maple syrup. The flavor was very apparent, but it wasn’t thick or an overpowering syrupy taste. I would definitely drink this again.
My next stop was the Leinenkugel table. Their Summer Shandy (which everyone was grabbing), doesn’t really do it for me, but I wanted to give them a second chance since I haven’t had many of their other varieties. I opted to try the Creamy Dark and the guy that poured it mentioned that it was a good introduction for those that haven’t had many dark beers. I think this was the perfect way to describe this beer because it was very bland. There was no particular flavor that stood out as I was drinking it and the only way I can think to describe it is to say, “Meh.”
Continuing on my goal of drinking outside of my usual selection, I decided to give in and have a hard cider since so many breweries there were serving it. I would normally steer away from hard ciders because I often find them almost sickeningly sweet. I stopped at the Woodchuck table to browse what they were carrying and the guys at their table suggested I try the Pink since most of the girls liked that. That comment had the opposite affect on me and I decided to try the Summer instead (let’s please not generalize what all girls like!). As with most hard ciders, it was very sweet, but the blueberry taste was really nice. It was a good cider, but I don’t think I could have drank more than a glass of this.
In saving the best for last, my favorite beer of the night was the Pyramid Apricot Ale. This was definitely the perfect summer beer. It was so light and refreshing and the apricot taste was apparent but didn’t have a super fruity taste. The balance of flavors was just perfect. I had never heard of Pyramid before, but I can’t wait to buy some more of this particular brew.
Besides the beer, my favorite part of the event was meeting Bobby Vedder, a certified cicerone at Powers. For those that don’t know, a cicerone is like the beer version of a sommelier. I had a great time talking to Bobby about the certification process–which includes blind tastings, a test and an essay portion. I asked him how he trained for it and he said it was almost two decades in the making; he’s loved the craft beer scene for as long as he can remember. Bobby is definitely a beer aficionado and it was fun picking his brain.
With more than 500 attendees, Powers had a great turnout for their first event. I enjoyed having the opportunity to check out some breweries that I don’t normally get a chance to sample. Hopefully, this become an annual event for Powers. American Craft Beer Week runs until May 19, so don’t forget to raise a glass to the occasion. Cheers!