On December 1st, Starfish Junction Productions held their 8th Annual Valley Forge Beer and Cider Festival at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, located in Oaks, Pennsylvania. I am always a bit biased in favor of this festival, mostly due to the close proximity to my home, meaning I could easily Uber there in a few minutes, instead of the usual 30-40 minute drive to Philadelphia.
As with every other year, the Valley Forge Beer & Cider Festival has been partnered with the local Committee to Benefit the Children (CBC), supporting them in their efforts to improve the quality of life for children and families who face cancer, leukemia and other serious disorders and illnesses.
There were a LOT of super festive people at this festival. That’s something I have always liked about this event. Being pretty much the only beer festival so close to the holiday season, people tend to go all out. I had trouble choosing just one or two photos, so here’s a few to get a general idea:
I always love a good VIP beer section, and this one, as usual, does not disappoint. I’m still a bit on the fence with the timed pours, it’s always hard for me to remember to get back on time, but I do understand the benefit, as they don’t run out of the VIP beers that they have lower quantities of. I did manage to set an alarm this time though, and got back for the beers I wanted.
Favorite Craft Beers
Bamarillo by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
First beer I tried in the VIP section, first beer of the night as well. Poured a light gold with the slightest of haze, and strong white head. The aroma was funky and earthy, with pineapple and other tropical fruits beneath. Clearly tasted tart, juicy pineapple and other tropical fruits alongside the light earthiness, this beer had a thin mouthfeel and a rather dry finish – a fruity, dry, and immensely drinkable ale.
I looked up more about Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales after trying this one. The most interesting fact I learned, and something that really impacted the flavor of this beer specifically, is their method of fermentation. Although many brewers have used oak barrels to age their beers, the brewers at Jolly Pumpkin actually ferment in the wood, which imparts more complex and earthy flavors in their beers.
Erotolupulinophobia by Tuned Up Brewing Company
I mentioned this beer before, and I’ll be sure to mention it again. Frequently one of my top 5 at local festivals, this one really stands out (and not just because of the wild name).
Grapefruit, coriander, and a bitter hop cut, this beer really packs in the flavor. A wonderfully sweet and hoppy juice bomb, perfectly balanced for your drinking pleasure. They could brew this beer alone, and I would assume they have a successful brewery.
Universal Truths by Gun Hill Brewing Company
Another VIP beer, this had aromas of sweet sage, orange preserves, and light cinnamon. An incredibly light malt profile, with crackers, honey, and fresh-baked biscuits. Slightly bitter with a smooth body.
I’ve had a few of these Belgian-Style IPAs, and every time I find them very intriguing, even though I’m not sure I could drink any more than a glass at a time. If you like the style, this is one to check out.
Trop IPA by Crowded Castle Brewing Company
Trop IPA is a 7.7% ABV Imperial India Pale Ale from Crowded Castle Brewing Company in Phoenixville, PA. This is yet another winner from this phenomenal young brewery. Pours a dark caramel haze, light frothy head with moderate lacing.
As you bring the glass to your face you can immediately smell the grapefruit, papaya, and other tropical flavors. The taste is not far from the nose, easily enjoyable, and surprisingly crushable at nearly 8%, with a smooth, crisp finish.
Hokkaido Brewing Company
Having just started doing some consulting work for Hokkaido Brewing Company, a Japanese craft beer company, I headed into this festival fully expecting not to mention them at all in this write-up, for fear of looking like there is a conflict of interest.
I had come across Hokkaido at a few festivals in the past, their beer always leaving a lasting impression. When I approached the brewery with a request for an interview for the site, we ended up having a lot in common, and soon after, I joined the team. I will not be doing any official reviews here, but for the sake of an event recap I do have to mention that this was easily the most popular beer at the Valley Forge Beer and Cider Festival (making me feel good about the decision to get involved, of course).
With lines rivaling those for a new iPhone, people could not get enough. Many that I saw would finish their first sample, and immediately head to the back of the line to try one of the other beers. Hokkaido had more than a handful of brews available from their Happoshu fruit beer line, including flavors like Cherry & Berry, Yuzu, Lemon, and Peach, as well as their Otaru line, which consists of Japanese interpretations of top beer styles like the Lager, Porter, and Stout.
B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher by Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
Pouring an inky black with quickly dissipating dark tan head, leaving behind some faint lacing as you drink. Aromas of dark, roasted grains and dark chocolate, alongside dark fruits and bitter hops.
Taste is roasted, bitter coffee with heaps of luxurious dark chocolate. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, medium bodied. Big flavor, great for the cold weather. I found myself not entirely disliking this, and I’m not usually a fan of the stout.
Scarlet Letter by Stoney Creek Homebrewers
Dark reddish amber, clear pour. Head moderate sized and off-white with good retention. Hop aromas are strong, tropical and stone fruits, along with a mild malt aroma, well complimenting the hops, with sweet caramels and toast.
Clean, yet slightly sweet fruits at the front of the palate; with toast and medium-dark caramel. Hop flavor is there throughout with the tropical and stone fruits. Creamy, smooth texture, with medium carbonation and a dry, bitter finish.