Warsaw Beer Festival is a peculiar event. Taking place twice a year, it attracts owners of well-supplied specialized alcohol shops that offer majority of indigenous craft beers as well as a variety of beers from abroad.
How do the organizers attract participants? The biggest pros: great organization (thanks to the eight previous editions), a heap of additional events, both paid (workshops and tastings) and free (meetings and talks on the main stage), as well as a wide variety of debut beers.
This year’s additional (main?) draw was the special guest Steve Dresler – a retired brewmaster of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, co-creator of the first modern beer made of the so-called wet hop and a cult name in American craft beer circles. Steve was passionate in retelling his 34 years of brewmaster’s career and was eager to answer questions from the host and audience.
A soccer tournament became one of the festival’s traditions. Opened for spectacors was the western tribune of Legia Warszawa football club’s stadium, where one can sit down and rest away from the buzz of enclosed spaces, but, unfortunately for non-smokers, also enjoy a cigarette. We do not know how technically plausible two separate open zones for smokers and non-smokers in future editions would be, but it is a topic worth considering for the organizers.
One of the most striking sights on this edition of Warsaw Beer Festival was a significantly higher number of families, some even with baby strollers, moving among beer stands and foodtracks. It was a pleasant sight for eyes, proving that a whim for a good beer does not need to collide with family duties.
The most important news: over fifty craft breweries presented cross-section of their products. Most of them can be found on shelves of alcohol shops across the country, but the exhibitors also showed off some brand new products, as well as custom work not available in everyday sale.
A few premieres are worth describing in detail. Pinta presented a new version of their sour Kwas Theta, as well as Warsaw Express in Bourbon Barrel Age version. Palatum brewery from Warsaw brought three new products: Hyperion – strong Belgian beer with addition of blackberries and blackcurrants; Cold Crash – doubly-hopped Black IPA; Licantropusa – RIS seasoned in a Bowmore whisky barrel. Podgórz Brewery presented three new varieties of its flagship baltic porter beer, including one seasoned in a fruit wine barrel. Deer Bear went all out in their presentation of Xtreme 03 imperial milk stout seasoned in bourbon barrel, as well as Battle Blend vol. 2 cofee imperial milk stout seasoned in Laphroaig barrel.