If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the Grandview Craft Beer Alliance's High-Gravity Hullabaloo on Saturday, February 1st, you were able to bear witness to the first of what likely be many successful events.
From 7 to 11 p.m., craft beer fans were immersed in high-quality beers, danceable 70s music, blast-from-the-past arcade games like Frogger, Ms. Pac-Man, Spyhunter and Galaga, and face time with some of Ohio's veteran and novice brewmasters. The 225-lb. smoked hog brought by Barley's Smokehouse & Brewpub was demolished in under an hour, which is a testament to how well Barley's can do some smoked meat. There were other treats on hand - pies by Honeykiss Bakery, and spicy smoked ribs from ManBQue and Wolf Ridge's Polenta Cakes with BBQ pulled pork. Having filled up on the smoked hog, I only added a peanut butter pie to my beer-filled tummy and as far as peanut butter pies go, Honeykiss Bakery has the best I've ever had.
While the food did run out quickly, it wasn't the star of the show, which of course were the strong beers offered by such breweries as Seventh Son, Four String, Zauber, North High Brewing, Actual Brewing Co., Buckeye Lake Brewery, Barley's Smokehouse, Catawba Island, Zaftig, Wolf's Ridge, Marietta Brewing, Elevator and Hoof Hearted. That's quite an impressive list, folks.
North High Brewing definitely got my vote for most interesting beer. The Super Secret Firkin with Bacon was definitely one I had to have more than once. Having someone sprinkle bacon atop your brew is just heaven. Better than heaven. I should have enjoyed the taste of the beer without the benefit of a bacon bit in my mouth at the same time, but what can I say? I love bacon bits and eagerly picked a few out to give the Super Secret Firkin contents a nice, salty aftertaste.
As far as stouts, the only ones I hadn't tried before were Elevator's Mocha Plum Stout, Zaftig's Black Perle Stout and Barley's Smokehouse's St. Joan's Revenge Russian Imperial Stout. Elevator's contribution was highly enjoyable, as I appreciated the sweet plumy addition to what is already built to be a solid, flavorful beer. Both Barley's Smokehouse and Zaftig's stout also hit the nail on the head with bold, but not overpowering flavors.
I should mention that attendees were given a small tulip-stemmed glass to commemorate the event and obviously also try out the brews. I thought this was a perfect choice. One of my biggest problems with the beer festivals I attend is trying a beer, not liking it and either dumping a lot of product or feeling obligated to drink the entire thing, which ultimately ends badly. This tiny glass was the perfect size for sampling beers, and of course making sure people didn't get too drunk, too fast. To also stave off potential drunkenness, Actual Brewing Co. brewed coffee all night which surely helped a lot of people come down from the high-gravity brews. And if you wanted a break from the beer, The Ohio Taproom was on hand with some sasparilla.
The dimly-lit warehouse served as a perfect setting for this inaugural event. The space was small enough to be intimate, but large enough that people weren't bumping into one another. Lines were non-existent for the most part and the overall atmosphere was relaxed, upbeat and low-key but happening. For interested parties, there was even a spot where you could stop and talk to some folks from SODZ (Scioto Olentangy Darby Zymurgists) and learn about the process or, like me, soak up the delicious smells.
All in all, the Grandview Craft Beer Alliance put on one hell of a show, even if the smoked meats and gorgeous pies ran out quickly. After the dust settled, co-founder Laura Oldham said she and fellow co-founders Jamie Gentry and Doug Oldham were pretty happy with the event and definitely learned some good lessons to keep in mind for upcoming events. In my opinion, for a first event, I think things went swimmingly.
Thank you to all the breweries who brought us delicious beers, to the Grandview Craft Beer Alliance for working to bring microbrew marvelers closer together, and to all the others who helped all of us have a good time and enjoy some good eats. Congratulations on your first successful event!