It seems that spring has arrived at last, which means a whole new crop of fun outdoor activities! We kicked off festival season with the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival in downtown Harrisonburg last weekend.
Rocktown featured three fun bands, local food vendors, and beer from 30 breweries! The weather was a little chilly, but we quickly forgot once the beer started flowin.’
The $35 ticket included a tasting glass-sized beer mug, ten 4 oz pours, and (we thought) the ability to sample any of the 65+ craft beers. After the first two stalls acted weird about tasting the beers before committing to a full pour, we stopped asking to sample. Most of us ordered the Jade IPA from Foothills Brewing Company (Winston-Salem, NC) for our first pour. The Jade is unlike any IPA we’ve ever tried, and honestly, it’s hard to describe. The tropical hops are so present that this beer goes right to edge of being too pungent. Where it stops, however, results in perfection. FIND THIS BEER AND TRY IT; our description cannot do it justice.
Our next stand-out pour came from Blue Mountain (Afton, VA). A Hopwork Orange was a brew that we Barley Babes had never heard of, and what a pleasant surprise it was. Usually the citrus presence in IPAs is more grapefruity, which can lead to pretty bitter beers (although we still love them). However, the sweetness of the orange perfectly balanced the hops, making this beer easy drankin’. If orange IPAs are a new trend, the babes FULLY support it!
We had a one-track mind for IPAs at Rocktown, which is why we had to try Heavy Seas’ (Baltimore, MD) Riptide White IPA. This is a stellar IPA, y’all. It has the malt body of a Belgian-style wit, but is hopped like an IPA. A creamy, smooth, mouth feel, a big citrus nose, and the perfect balance of hops and wheat…you can’t beat it.
Our final noteworthy find was the Bear Republic (Healdsburg, CA) Apex. Fans of the Racer 5 IPA will be happy to know that the Apex, Bear Republic’s “Special” (aka Double/Imperial) IPA is even more flavorful and delicious. Its full body, perfectly balanced hop-malt ratio, and hint of booziness left us DIPA lovers wanting a full pint of this baby.
This was our first true beer festival experience and we had a spectacular afternoon. However, a journalistic commitment to truth-telling requires us to report a few complaints. As previously mentioned, the Rocktown website said that the ticket price included the ability to sample of any of the beers at the festival, which turned out to be a false promise. We enjoyed each beer we chose, but there were so many more that we wanted to at least try. After finishing your ten pours there was the option to buy four more for $5, but this brings us to our second complaint: At 5, halfway through the festival, many of the breweries had already run out of one of their beers! We hadn’t even finished our first ten at this point because we were really taking our time to savor and discuss each one. (We also might have been briefly sidetracked by application of temporary tattoos, but that’s beside the point.) It’s understandable to run out of beer when the festival is winding down at 7-7:30, but not with three more hours to go!!
Whew–glad to get the griping out of the way. Tipsy and happy, we closed out the festival getting down to the groovy tunes of the Kelly Bell Band. These guys were almost as good as the beer! Almost.