We arrived in Ohio around noon on Saturday, just about an hour before the start of the VIP session of the second-annual Big Tap In. This was my Christmas present from Mrs. Crappy, who had heard enough good things about last year’s festival that she thought we shouldn’t miss this one.
After a quick lunch and a few minutes to check into our hotel (which, thankfully, was right next the hall), we jumped in line for the first session, which featured special beers from nearly all of the 7,365,839 breweries set up for the show.
There were some spectacular beers throughout the day, but one of the best parts of the days was finding that about half of the city of Pittsburgh made the hour drive up for the show as well.
Friends? Check. Beer? Hooboy. Between the two sessions, we tried dozens, but there were a few that stood out: a cask of Great Lakes’ Nosfaratu; the bourbon-aged Ol’ Red Cease and Desist from Erie that the SIDT boys scored for their table during the VIP session; my first tastes of two Ommegang beers, Gnomeagang and BPA; a luscious double ESB from Tall Grass Brewing in Kansas; and a firkin of The Poet from New Holland.
And there was this:
Yeah, I know. But it worked well: A swirl of coffee and chocolate up front and a subtle peanuty thread under the more prominent flavors. Wow.
When the second session ended, a pretty good number of the people walked the short distance from the hall to Vintage Estates, Boardman’s fabulous beer and wine shop which organizes the show. It didn’t take Mrs. Crappy and me long to score a table on the front patio, and from that point on we saw a steady stream of friends, flatbreads and yeah, more beer, including what probably turned out to be the best beer of the day.
Years ago, Sickpuppy picked up a gigantic bottle of Stone’s Double Bastard, and I’ve pestered him for as long as I’ve known him about finally cracking that sucker open. And with the fifth anniversary of the SIDT show coming up this month, the bottle made the trip to Boardman, where it chilled in VE’s cooler while the festival was going on .
It got passed around a bit.
Holy crap. My evening was turning a little fuzzy by the time I got a taste, but I’ll never forget it: a syrup-like consistency and carbonation that had long ago been beaten into submission, flavors ranging from a woody backbone to rich fruits and although this bottle had several years to mellow, the alcohol’s heat still lingered in the background. A spectacular beer, and definitely worthy of the occasion.
We went back to VE late this morning, after Spoon Twitpic’ed one of the breakfast flatbreads, more than enough temptation for us to stop there one more time before making the longest hour-long drive ever back to Pittsburgh.
There will be video of some of this stuff over the next few days, but I’m still beat, so I’m going to sum it up: a day full of fabulous beer, friends old and new and enough food to keep us from dying. Congratulations to VE’s Phil and Sandy for pulling off a great festival and to Doug and Brad for the impending fifth anniversary of their show. And a special thanks to Mrs. Crappy, for having the forethought in December to get us to Boardman four months later.