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Good beer vibes at the Capital Beerfest

Saturday afternoon visitors from all over the region headed to the Capital Beerfest for beer, fun and food trucks. Like last year, there were tons of local breweries pouring, but unlike last year, the locals were the stars this time around. Move over Sierra Nevada.

Highly enthused visitors streamed into Cal Expo starting at noon. At 2 p.m. when general admission opened there was a flood of new people and the exhibition hall was soon packed. The first two hours of the festival food was available, but it came with a price – a long line and precious pouring time wasted. Thankfully, there were also more than enough great food trucks, so no one went home hungry.

Newly opened New Helvetia Brewing Co. straddles the line between Midtown and Land Park.

The selection of beers poured was undeniably great. There were just under 100 breweries and almost everyone was pouring their best.

Sutter Buttes Brewing had Franklin Jr. on tap. At more than 158 IBUs (International Bittering Units), they call it an Imperial Triple Hop made especially for hop heads. I call it delicious, unique and worth a try. Loomis Basin Brewing Company poured Avenger XX IPA. Although it was a bit bitter for my taste, the aroma was terrific.

Black Diamond Brewing had a really nice Imperial Hoppy Red called Fracas. Assistant Brewer Paul Mallory was on hand talking to visitors about their new initiative to brew an experimental beer each month. Mallory also said that while their previous brewpub in Walnut Grove closed, they have a new tap room open in Concord.

Belgo Hoptologist was on cask at Knee Deep Brewing Company’s booth – a delicious treat while it lasted – but this wasn’t the biggest news coming out of Knee Deep. Brewer Jeremy Warren confirmed that they had brewed a quadruple IPA. Word is that it’s just over 12 percent, but Warren stated that the official laboratory results are yet to come in. Knee Deep will be working on several trial versions in the coming months. Many are skeptical about the possibility of creating a quality beer that is hoppy enough to be called a quadruple IPA, but they have accepted the challenge.

Speaking of imperial IPAs, Moylan’s poured Hop Craic XXXXIPA. Is this truly a quadruple IPA? Probably not, but with Hop Craic and Hopsickle, they will surely be continuing on the race towards IBU bliss.

Track 7 and Knee Deep tents

Knee Deep in Beer Week, the collaborative brew, was available both at Knee Deep and Track 7 during the festival. Both breweries brewed a slightly different version, and I’m hopeful that either one or both will become permanent Sacramento beers. As you can tell from the photo above, there was never a dull moment at their tents. It was great to see two young local breweries doing so well and pouring such high-quality beers.

The absence of homebrewers put a bit of a damper on the day for some. Around and around you could go, but you would find no local homebrewers at this year’s Capital Beerfest. The Greenbelt Brewers Association, which meets at Sudwerk Brewing, got a call on Friday at 3 p.m. that said they were out, so all their bottles and kegs (including one on nitro) had to be left at home come Saturday. The exact reason that they were unable to participate this year was unclear, but regardless, their presence and fresh ideas and brews were missed. In a word, lame.

The Greenbelt Brewers Association had no booth at this year’s Capital Beerfest

Also missing from the action was North Coast Brewing Co. Just where were you last Saturday, Old Rasputin?

Despite the almost complete and total hop takeover of the California beer scene over the last year or two, there were still a few good spots at the beerfest for those uninterested in hops. Sierra Nevada had their Ovila Quad on tap, Stone Brewing Co. poured oak-aged Old Guardian – always a treat – and Oakland had something unique and not hoppy as well. Their Saison du Madre was a very healthy saison. The body was a touch sweet and the spritzy carbonation did it good.

Runnin’ For Rhett volunteers did the pouring and benefited from the proceeds of the event. The positive energy they bring to the beerfest each year is always a terrific addition to the day. Runnin’ For Rhett provides scholarships to college students enrolled in special education teaching programs and helps fund youth fitness programs for Sacramento area schools. They truly know how to “Uplift, encourage and move,” as their mission statement says.

So many breweries and so many great brews – just imagine all that is to come for this beer scene. Until next year, Sacramento Beer Week; until next week, Sacramento Beer Readers.

Odonata Beer Company announced their return just in time for SBW 2013.

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