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October 23, 2007

volo cask days 2007

another october brings the annual volo cask days festival. although there are other festivals through the year, this is the only one that i always consider a "must see". there's just no topping the array of excellent cask beer that ralph brings together for this event. there's always some standard offerings, but many of the local brewers put together special edition and one-off casks for the event that you just can't find elsewhere.

we were fortunate enough to be invited to brew beer for last year's event, and with the success there we were happy to be invited back this year.

our primary offering this time around was a new take on hopocalypse, last year's favourite. we brewed up the new version, dubbed hopocalypse redux.

i decided to whip something up using a bunch of my cascade hops, and settled upon an american imperial porter that i dubbed casc imperial porter. you can see the brew day blog for more details.

finally, like last year we also brought in something on tap. this time out it was our monk's elixer belgian strong dark ale. this one was brewed back in may so it would have some time to mellow out before the fest.

all three beers were very well received and we had a great time hanging out and talking with everybody all weekend.

some additional links to discussion of the event:

bartowel thread
flickr group
steven beaumont blog post
toronto star article

on with the photos!

carl setting up. eric and i arrived early to help with setup. carl was trying to match up all his signs with the casks (which weren't all marked). some taste testing solved any ambiguity though.

labeling the beers. eric helping with the signs.

the line starts to form. a few early arrivals, eager to have some breakfast and get things rolling.

breakfast buffet. the breakfast spread. tons of excellent food. i was expecting a simple continental breakfast and got a fine mix of hot stuff, continental, and other great food.

the first 6: wind & sail dark ale (barley days), hopburn ale (camerons), hop bomb (black oak), bourbon barreled 2005 nutcracker porter (black oak), west coast ipa (church key), and hop bomb "STFU" pale ale (black oak).

7 more: hop head ipa (county durham), fuller's esb (fullers), blak kat stout (county durham), taste of ontario harvest ale (f&m), london pride (fullers), george's herbal mild (george eagleson), and pumpkin ale (great lakes).

another 5: mill race mild (grand river), plowman's ale (grand river), best bitter special (granite), keefe oak chip steeped irish stout (granite), and devil's pale ale (great lakes).

6 more: ipa (mill street), stewart's organic ale (heritage), traditional english dark ale with vanilla beans (hockley), maclean's pale ale dry hopped (macleans), fog on the tyne (magnotta), and left hook barley wine (nickel brook).

and 7: jackson's best bitter (st andre), peppermint stout (trafalgar), perry's atomic pumpkin ale (scotch irish), arkell best bitter (wellington), grains of wrath (church key), and special pale ale dry hopped (wellington>).


breakfast with the brewers

more breakfast

me, beer

mike and me. my father in law, usually a coors light man, is never afraid to try new beer. one of these days i'll bring him away from the dark side.

mike, me, kathy. talking with my inlaws.


mike, jenn, me, kathy. my wife and her mom don't even drink beer, but came out to show their support. jenn ended up loving the monk's elixer and has requested that i keep it regularly on tap at home.

jan. our most junior biergotter member was proud to have helped brew our beers and couldn't get enough of the monk's elixer either.

jan and me

beer talk. so many people stopped to talk and compliment us on our beer. it's really a thrill to take part in something like this and have so many people share in what we make.

food. as always with volo, the food was top notch. mike was checking things out and giving his approval.

hopocalypse redux! this hazy beast had almost 50% more malt than last year, and more than 50% more hops. double dry hopped for even more hop intensity. not quite as balanced as last year, but that wasn't the idea - we wanted this one to be a little over the top. i could easily pick it out in a crowd just from the colour and the intense haze all the hops left.

crowd shot

my lovely wife and i

homebrew station. the first pin of hopocalypse redux was gone in about 2 hours. in session 2 we brought out the casc imperial porter - a big american porter featuring a whole bunch of my homegrown cascade hops. session 3 got the tail end of the porter and a fresh pin of hopocalypse redux. took less than an hour on sunday for the porter to run out, and about two hours for the second pin of redux to go dry.

not seen in the picture was our monk's elixer belgian strong dark ale that was on tap and ran out around 9pm on saturday.

robert hughey's totally bitter ale was pouring beside us all weekend.

jan and me


the bar

cheese. saturday evening snacks.


saturday night crowd. eric in the middle.

more saturday night crowd

need more ice! sunday the temps soared to a surprising 79F/26C - unheard of for this time of year. ralph had to grab many bags of ice to keep the casks at a reasonable temperature. worked out pretty well.

sunday morning

getting hot

sunday crowd

more sunday crowd

eric, me, jan. the worn and weary biergotter crew, late on sunday afternoon. all three of us spent the whole weekend at volo, sharing lots of great beer, great conversation, and good times. too bad the whole crew couldn't have been there!

update: much like last year, ralph had ballots for attendees to vote for their favourite beer and favourite beer name. once again, biergotter has come out on top, winning "Favourite Cask" for hopocalypse redux. thanks to everyone who voted for us! congrats also to magnotta who won "Favourite Name" for their Fog on the Tyne.

in addition, it's our pleasure to have contributed all the proceeds from our beer towards the $2707.92 that was raised for the Sick Kids Foundation. thanks to everybody who contributed!

Posted by grub at October 23, 2007 12:29 PM

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