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This past weekend, Beer UP found itself at the Brooklyn Waterfront Craft & Specialty Beer Festival at 5 North 11th street, a few blocks away from the East River State Park. With a two ounce shot glass, we did our best to suck down as many of the 180+ brews from breweries around the world as we could. There were quite a few great beers out there, with some of my favorite breweries making an appearance (like Founders, Smuttynose, and, of course, Brooklyn Brewery), but after throwing a few back, it quickly became obvious that trying every beer at the festival would be an impossible quest. Instead, we prowled the waterfront, looking for the oddest beers we could find. And boy, did we find some. Check out the five weirdest below, plus other photos from the evening.
Note: The Village Voice was a media affiliate for the festival.
Thomas Hooker Watermelon Infused Blonde Ale; Bloomfield, Connecticut
ABV: 4.50 %
No joke, the Watermelon Ale tastes exactly like a Jolly Rancher. It’s so unbelievably sweet; it’s like drinking a soda. It’d be a fun beer to bring out on a boat or to the beach, but if you are a fan of beer and, you know, the way beer tastes, this will probably just make you mad.
Tommyknocker Brewery’s Tundrabeary Summer Ale; Idaho Springs, Colorado
On first glance, the Tundrabeary might seem like it’d be like the above Watermelon Ale, one that’s just way too sweet too drink or even consider a “beer.” But the Tundrabeary’s pun is quite indicative of its flavor. Sure, there’s some fruitiness too it, much more than an average beer, but the hops are a lot more potent than you expect. It carries a very aggressive flavor, with a clean finish, and ended up being one of my favorite beers of the day.
Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter; Breckenridge, Colorado
Wow, what a beer! It pours a dark, dark color, one that’s similar to Guinness, but is not at all similar in flavor. The vanilla is very strong (unsurprising, considering the name), but it’s in a way that really compliments the hops. To be honest, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had. Then again, it was one of the last I sampled, so my judgement might have been a little cloudy.
Blue Point Hoptical Illusion; Patchogue, New York
C’mon, that name? Too good to keep off this list. The Hoptical Illusion was quite fruity and very sweet. And really, this was just one of the more interesting IPAs I’ve ever tasted. It was not at all bitter, and the sweetness allowed for it to go down smooth. The mouthfeel wasn’t as syrupy as IPAs usually are, too, and that came as a welcome surprise.
Wells Young’s Banana Bread; England
Well, this was definitely the weirdest beer at the festival, and its name didn’t lie. It tastes exactly like banana bread. Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of ideas like this because it feels gimmicky. But the bready flavor blended extremely well into beer form. It was odd, sure, but unlike the watermelon flavored beer above, Wells Young does a good job making sure that the experience is as much like a beer as possible. I couldn’t drink it every day, but overall, the Banana Bread does a great job at managing to be super weird, but still super beer.