Beer and Food Trucks and Glow Sticks! Oh My!

Fall is upon finally upon us. While some people lamented the end of summer, LivingSocial(you know, that company synonymous with DC) decided that the best way to send off board shorts was with a festival. But not just any festival … with a Craft Beer and Food Truck Festival!

Crowds packed — and I do mean PACKED—the Half Street Fairgrounds outside of Washington Nationals Park last weekend for the festival. While the White House Correspondents Dinner may host the “anyone who is anyone” crowd, this craft beer festival hosted the “everyone who is alive” type of crowd. Hipsters, wonks, students and more came out to sample beers from more than 50 different breweries and chow down on a selection of DC’s notoriously vast food truck scene. Festival goers were treated to a party scene befitting the end of summer and the start of fall.

The Dan Band Performing

The Dan Band–the band who notoriously made “Total Eclipse of the Heart” into a profanity laden love song in the film “Old School”—and other local artists gave people plenty of reasons to dance while they drank. I, for one, will never again be able to hear Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” without thinking about The Dan Band’s rendition. In addition to music, interactive art installations, lawn games, and other fun activities gave the festival a very strong party vibe. Heck, everyone in attendance even had access to glow sticks to accompany that vibe.

While all of the side activities were impressive, I was there on a mission. That very possible mission was to hunt down good beer and give my liver a workout worthy of my last name. With my collectible beer stein in hand, I navigated the many lines in search of suds.

First in line for me was a stop in the Star Hill brewery line for their Boxcar Pumpkin Porter. The Boxcar is a traditional English-style Brown Porter with pumpkin added to the mash. I would recommend this beer for anyone who is afraid of the stronger pumpkin beers or not used to darker beers. The aroma of pumpkin and spice is very strong (yes I was able to smell something despite many sweaty bodies around me), but the flavors do not match in terms of their power. The pumpkin taste is very subtle and the Porter is very medium bodied and smooth compared with many Porters.

Starhill’s Boxcar Pumpkin Porter

Continuing on in my suds search, I moved in “Sesame Street” letter fashion from a pumpkin Porter to Pacifico. This Mexican Pilsner-style beer is rapidly expanding its presence in the US marketplace beyond its Southern California surfer roots. While most Mexican Pilsners are not well loved by many beer geeks, I can say I would take this beer over the more well-known Corona any day of the week. Light and clean in flavor, it was the perfect beer to cleanse my palette for my next beer.

Sixpoint Brewery’s Bengali Tiger was next up in my glass, and its flavor proved to be just as ferocious as the beer’s namesake. While I am not a fan of India Pale Ales (IPAs), Sixpoint delivered a high quality IPA that is above many others out on the market. Orange-copper in color, this beer has a very hoppy aroma that foreshadows a strong piney bitterness with each sip. I give high marks to Sixpoint for balancing this bitterness with a strong bready malt taste.

My award for the most intriguing beer of the day goes to Azrael(warning: bad joke ahead), a Belgian-style Golden Ale from Devils Backbone that is so sinful you should change your name to Adam or Eve (I warned you).

Devils Backbone Brewing Company’s Azrael

This style of beer are characterized as pale to golden in color (hence the name), and packing a deceptive punch behind their light taste. Azrael fits that description, with a light and sweet flavor hiding its 7.8% ABV. I am not very familiar with this Virginia-based brewery, but I think it may be worth a trip out to rural VA to try some more of their beers. Anyone with a car for a road trip should inquire below.

All things considered, this was a great event by LivingSocial. I have great respect for anyone and any company that is willing to plan an event where around 1,000 DC denizens get together under the banner of “unlimited beer samples.” It is not an easy task that can be handled in a fun way by many, but LivingSocial did a fantastic job (just ditch the glow sticks next time).

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