The best beers in the South were on tap at the 5th annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest on Saturday.
The sold-out craft beer festival, which is a fundraising event for the Cooper-Young Community Association, showcases breweries within a day’s drive from Memphis, plus beer from Memphis-area homebrewers.
Rain had threatened the festival, but it stayed pretty dry, and the festival might have been the best yet. I felt the beers were particularly strong this year, featuring an impressive variety of styles, and the vibe was as laid-back as ever.
My goal this year was to sample beers from breweries that were largely unfamiliar to me. I had some really great beers — so picking my favorites was tough — but here’s my Top 5 beers from the festival :
1. “Bourbon Barrel Cocoa Porter,” Country Boy Brewing, Lexington KY — This decadent beer was my favorite of Country Boy’s strong slate of offerings, delivering a rich cocoa flavor with a bourbon finish.
2. “Peanut Butter AstroNut Brown,” Rocket Republic Brewing Company, Madison, AL — People looked at me with raised eyebrows when I suggested they try the “peanut butter beer” from Rocket Republic, but I think a lot of folks were won over by this American Brown Ale. The peanut butter was surprisingly subtle, adding just enough sweetness to make this a beer a winner.
3. “Breakfast Stout,” Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, Memphis, TN — Brewed by homebrewer Adam Steele, the recipe is essentially the “Brewing Classic Styles” oatmeal stout, using a Randall to infuse the beer with Ugly Mug coffee beans. Adam also cold-steeped the roasted grains, pasteurized them at 180 degrees for 10 minutes and added directly to the fermenter. The result was a delicious coffee stout.
4. “Brother Joseph’s Belgian Dubbel,” Straight to Ale, Huntsville, AL — At 8% ABV, this was a surprising smooth abbey-stye ale with enough flavor that I could still taste the rich malt and fruit character after sampling beers for 3.5 hours.
5. “Masked Bandit India Pale Ale,” Piney River Brewing Co., Bucyrus, MO — There were plenty of hoppy beers on tap at the festival, but I particularly liked this well-balanced black rye IPA., hopped with Amarillo, Citra and Centennial.
What were the best beers you tried? Leave a comment below.
Here are some more photos from the event: