Extreme Beer Festival 2015 in Boston

Been a little while since my last post, but this past week-end I had the opportunity to attend the annual Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Festival in Boston, Mass. This festival brings together over 70 brewers from all over the country to showcase their most potent, experimental, and crazy beers. This was my first time to this event, and my first time to Boston, and I will say I had an amazing time.


After waking up at 4:30 AM and catching the 4 hour train to Boston, the first stop straight from the train station was Trillium Brewing Company. Or should I say straight from the train station to wait in a very long line outside of Trillium:

First line of the day

Trillium Brewing opened in Boston back in March of 2013 by home brewer Jean-Claude Tetreault and has become very well known and respected in the craft beer world. Even though they refer to themselves as a American-style farmhouse brewery, Tetreault and his team brew up many styles of delicious craft beer including dry hopped pale ales, oatmeal porters, and red ryes. This past week-end they celebrated their 2nd anniversary with the release of a double dry hopped double IPA called Upper Case.

Still not the front of the line.

Trillium is known for having long waits to get inside, but the release of this anniversary beer had the line around the block. And before I could reach the front of the line, a Trillium employee came outside to let everyone know that it was sold out. I wasn’t too bothered since I was there just to try anything they had, especially their Galaxy Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale which I have heard many great things about. Lucky for me, while waiting in line, another Trillium employee came out and asked who was there just to buy bottles and not growlers. I quickly raised my hand and went straight to the front of the line. Unfortunately they were out of a lot of stuff, but I managed to get a few bottles of the Galaxy Fort Point and a couple bottles of their Broken Angel Belgian strong ale.

Only took 1.5 hours in line to get! Some for me, some to share with friends!

After checking into the hotel and dropping off the bottles of Trillium, it was time to head over to another famous Boston brewery, Harpoon Brewery. Harpoon has been brewing craft beer for nearly 30 years having opened in 1986. They are currently the 12th largest craft brewer in the United States.

Another brewery, another wait outside.

Harpoon brews numerous styles of beer. They have brewed IPAs, Pilsners, Stouts, and everything in between including their UFO series which uses ingredients such as grapefruit, raspberries, pumpkins, and ginger. Untappd has 529 beers listed for them, so they have something for everyone. Being that thousands of beer enthusiasts were in town this past week-end, Harpoon was over capacity and had a line out the door. Luckily the line moved quickly and I was enjoying some fresh Harpoon in no time.

Harpoon Tap Room

The first beer of the long day of drinking was Harpoons Take 5 session Pale Ale. A very hoppy ale that only weighs in at 4.1% ABV. This is one of Harpoon’s pilot beers that are only available in the tap room.

Harpoon Take 5

Sadly I did not take a picture of one of Harpoon’s giant pretzels. They are freshly baked right in the tap room, come with a choice of dipping sauces, and were absolutely delicious.

After a few beers at Harpoon, it was time for some lunch and all I had on my mind was to get some New England Clam Chowder. Having heard some good reviews, I headed over to Yankee Lobster which is right on the other side of Harpoon’s parking lot.

Yankee Lobster’s Clam Chowdahhh

I went straight for an order of clam chowder and a Harpoon IPA. I will say that it was some of the best clam chowder I have ever had in my life. Super creamy and rich. Being very satisfied with a full stomach, it was time to heard over to the Seaport World Trade Center for Session #3 of the Extreme Beer Festival.

Another line.

Thankfully the snow that had been falling all morning had finally stopped and the sun was peaking through all the clouds. So waiting outside again wasn’t too bad. The line ran smoothly and I was inside in less than 20 minutes. After grabbing a festival guide and my tasting cup, it was time to dive into the crazy world of extreme beers.

Huge crowd, but never felt overcrowded.

This event was so crazy that I actually forgot to take more than a couple pictures of the event. There were nearly 325 beers to try from over 70 brewers and every choice was unique and interesting. (And in some cases dangerous!) Every kind of style from Double and Triple IPAs to Imperial Stouts to Wild Ales to Saisons and all types of Barrel Aged beers. Many included creative ingredients such chili peppers, maple syrup, cactus pear, freeze dried ice cream, truffles, peppermint, hibiscus, almonds, spruce tips, peanut butter, graham crackers, oysters, and even lobsters. And many of the beers were of high ABV, some as high as 19%!

Plenty of water.

Some of the brewers, such as Funky Buddha, Rare Barrel, and Tree House, had very long lines. But I found that those lines moved quickly and that the wait was a good excuse to slow down and digest some of the beers. I tried many excellent beers during the 3.5 hour session, so it is difficult to choose which were my favorites. From my blurry memory these following five stood out for me (in no particular order):

1) Carton Brewing Company Gilded Lily. A delicious Belgian Tripel that was brewed with white truffles and weighed in at 10.6% ABV. I have been wanting to try this beer for a while and it did not disappoint.

2) Funky Buddha French Toast. A 8.8% Double American Brown Ale made with cinnamon and maple syrup. Yep this tasted exactly like french toast in liquid form. Definitely one that you would have to share with friends, I don’t think I could drink an entire bottle of this by myself.

3) Rare Barrel Forces Unseen. An American Wild Ale that is a combination of three golden sour beers and aged in oak barrels. Very refreshing and tart. A delicious 5.3% ABV sour that exemplifies the style. I have heard good things about this Berkeley brewer, so their table was one of the first stops I made.

4) Surly Brewing Pentagram. This is a 100% brettanomyces dark sour ale that has been aged in red wine barrels. Of course the ABV of this beer comes in at an appropriate 6.66%. I also made sure to get a taste of their Abrasive ale which I previous reviewed.

5) Element Brewing Citronium. A super fruity Double IPA that uses Citra hops, kaffir lime leaves, and grapefruit oil. All that citrus flavor hides the 9.5% ABV very well. I would love to find bottles of this.

Slightly different pic than above.

Overall the Extreme Beer Festival was one of the best events I have been too. The people over at Beer Advocate know how to run an event smoothly. I got to taste all the beers I was looking forward to tasting and many others that were delicious surprises. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.

But one can’t come to Boston for the first time without soaking up some American history. Before the train ride back to New York City, my friend and I walked around downtown Boston (with an extremely heavy backpack full of beers). We headed over to the Granary Burying Ground where many famous Revolutionary War-era people are buried.

Such as Samuel Adams:

Not the beer

John Hancock:

Sign on the bottom line.

And Paul Revere:

Beastie Boys wrote a song about him

See you in 2016 Boston!



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