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Recap of the Memphis Brewfest Winter Warmer

January 17, 2011 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Events, Memphis

Memphis Brewfest Winter Warmer

The Memphis Brewfest Winter Warmer at Central Station in Downtown.

Memphis Brewfest‘s Winter Warmer beer tasting event Saturday drew a sold-out crowd of 800 beer lovers, who sampled hard-to-find craft beers and offerings from local homebrewers.

Beers brewed in the “winter warmer” style have a generally low hop bitterness and a “big malt presence, both in flavor and body,” according to Beer Advocate,  and “alcohol warmth is not uncommon.” So the festival featured a lot of full-bodied, strong winter seasonal beers and fewer IPAs, wheat beers and lagers.

Most of the beers served at the Winter Warmer are not readily available on shelves in the Memphis area, so it was a great opportunity to taste new things.

I counted more than 80 beers that were available for sampling, and tried 37 of them over a span of about three hours. At just 1-ounce, the sampling glasses were small, but helped since many of the offerings were high-alcohol brews.

Winter Warmer

A "beer volunteer" pours a sample at the Memphis Brewfest Winter Warmer.

The event was held at the historic Central Station in Downtown Memphis (constructed in 1914), which provided a nice, art deco-style backdrop. At times, the place seemed cramped, with 800 festival-goers plus volunteers and organizers competing for space, and it could be hard to see where the beer lines started. More tables and chairs away from the action would also have been nice.

Entertainment was provided by Susie & Bob Salley and the Memphis Raqs Bellydancers, though I was too busy sampling beers to really pay attention.

Some rare beers were auctioned off, including cases of SweetWater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale, Unibroe La Fin du Monde and Trappist Westvleteren 12. A case of Russian River Brewing Company‘s Pliney the Elder went for $185. Net proceeds benefited Cure Duchenne.

Big props to the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, local homebrewers who served beers that included an oatmeal stout, coffee stout and a raspberry ESB. Their beers were great, and they went fast.

Sampling at the Winter Warmer

Lots of beer was poured at the Memphis Brewfest Winter Warmer.

Coming this week: FuzzyBrew goes all mythbusters on a famous beer quote, and the FuzzyBrew guys pick their favorite beers from the Winter Warmer.