Monday, October 19, 2015

Shelton Brothers Beer and Cider Festival 2015

Shelton Brothers Beer and Cider Festival 2015

The Snobs love going to beer festivals and indeed, we have attended multitudes of beer festivals from Shanghai to Munich.  But this one was a bit different, a bit odd.  It seems to have been created purely as a celebration of beer geeks.  So while it is here in St. Petersburg it would be silly to not go see what all of the chatter is about.

Now of course you and I know that when you organize a beer festival it is all about the money.  Some make their money primarily by tickets sales to attendess.  The festival organizers that wish to have a wide range of brewers represented usually rely on ticket sales for their income.  At this type of festival you usually have an 'open bar' them with unlimited tastings of whatever you wish to taste.

Others make their money from charging the distrubuters to feature the beers that the distributer wishes to push (call it advertising).  You can tell when you are at one of these festivals when your selection is limited to the same basic crap beer that you see at your local sports bar and each beer is paid for as you drink ... think of ticket vouchers.

You also have hybrids like the GABF that makes money from both groups.  They charge each brewery a significant amount of money to enter their beer into the festival and then charge attendees a significant amount to enter the festival.

And then there is the Shelton Brothers Festival.  The Shelton brothers (yes, they exist, and 3 of them own the company) began in Massachusetts as an importer of small batch craft beers and has grown to a distributer of high quality beers and ciders with representation in nearly every state.  They import thousands of labels from every continent, with the exception, of course, of Antarctica.  The list of breweries that they have discovered and represent is quite impressive.  Cantillion (who they discovered), Mikkeller, Nøgne Ø, Siren, Dieu du Ciel, Brewfist, Ridgeway, Westvleteren are among those that beer snobs know and adore.  In the U.S. they distribute Prairie, Cigar City, Jester King, Hill Farmstead, Jolly Pumpkin and other breweries known as up and coming as well as for their quality.
t Hofbrouwerijke Flower Sour

Saison D’Epeautre  by Brasserie de Blaugies
The beer festival is a moving celebration (it is held in a different city every year) of the breweries and cideries represented by Shelton and let me tell you, it is unbelievable.  Most of the beers and ciders were being served by the brewers themselves, who were all too happy to chat with you about their creations.  Their pride in their products was evident with all that we were able to chat with.  The crowd was much smaller than you would expect with a selection like this, but this made the evening not turn into a drunkfest with the pushing and shoving that you get with the huge, oversold festivals. No drinking team t-shirts ... no pretzel necklaces ... no cheering every time someone dropped a glass ... just serious beer geeks enjoying the evening.
Toccalmatto/Prairie Ales Okie Matilda is a Belgian Pale Ale style beer brewed by Birra Toccalmatto in Fidenza, Italy

The Monarchy Preussen Weisse a Spice/Herb/Vegetable beer byThe Monarchy, a brewery in Köln (Cologne), 

Guldenberg by Brouwerij De Ranke
I would love to describe all of the beers that we sampled, but in this instance it would be so very difficult with the quantity of quality beers that were available. We will admit to spending a bit too much time 'sampling' the Westvleteren XII and were dumbfounded that there was no line whatsoever at their station.  We invite you to research and find some of the beers that are shown in photos with the promise to you that the odds of you being disappointed in any of these is remote.

We recommend that you find next year's festival (rumor is that it will be in Boston) and make plans to attend, for it is not often that you will find a festival for geeks, by geeks, that seems to exist purely for the enjoyment of sharing.

Cheers - Bon

Shelton Brothers
P.O. Box 486
Belchertown, MA 01007