Towards the end of July I received an email from Stacy Furtado, the Marketing Director at Wachusett Brewing Company, announcing the pending release of their newest and strongest beer - Imperial Pumpkin. Within the same email was an invitation for Sarah and I to attend their "First Taste" at the brewery on August 11th. Even though I was supposed to be in class, I opted to skip school and attend the event instead - which admitably I knew was going to be much more fun.
Unfortuantely Sarah had to work late, so I was flying solo to Westminster. I knew it was going to be a long drive, as on a good day it's close to an hour and fifteen minutes, so I mentally prepared myself. Despite hitting several patches of traffic, I still managed to get there in just about an hour and a half. If you know anything about Route 2 West of Boston (and West of 95N/S), but east of 495, you know the kind of traffic I'm talking about...
I must say, had it not been for the traffic, the drive would have been spectacular. Westminster, and the surrounding towns, are quite nice. It's definitely going to have to be a drive Sarah and I take during the fall, because it becomes very scenic.
I arrived to the brewery at 6:15pm, a little late, but better late than never. Now, as soon as I stepped out of my car I realized that I had in fact locked my keys in my car. Holy shit, was I pissed. This is only about the third time in my life this has happened, but each time it happens it's a pain in the ass. Thankfully I had my wits about me, and called AAA right away (it's a good thing I did too, because it took them about an hour and a half to arrive, and retrieve my keys).
Nevertheless, I wasn't going to this little inconvenience ruin my evening. I bolted inside, where I (finally) met Stacy. We are friends on Facebook and Twitter, and converse somewhat regularly, and in fact she was the one who sent a donation on behalf of Wachusett Brewing Co. to the Friends of Will "Cure Me I'm Irish" event back in March, but we had yet to actually meet face to face. She was nice enough to get me my First Taste of the Imperial Pumpkin, as I made the call to AAA.
My first impressions were "Wow, this is very, very good!" As I examined the beer some more, I could see just how tasty the brew was. It has a sort of golden brown hue to it, and it is incredibly fragrant. I have a bottle at home that I will do an actual review of, but I need to let you know that this is certainly one of the better pumpkin beers I've tried to date.
As I was sipping on my first beer, I ran into Norman Miller, aka the Real Beer Nut, as well as Rebecca and Kristen from Massachusetts Girls Pint Out, so at least I knew that I had some people to hang out with during the event.
Since getting far more involved in Brew England, Sarah and I have been invited to some really cool events. We seem to run into Norm quite a bit, as well as our buddy Josh from Lost in the Beer Aisle, and the past few events have run into the gals from MGPO. Needless to say, it's nice to run into people you know who share a similar passion for craft beer.
Rather quickly after grabbing the Pumpkin Ale, a small tour was about to start, led by President Ned LaFortune. The brewery was rather condensed, and it was a familiar story as we walked by the boil kettle, mash tun, etc, but we all learned that the expected 2011 sales of (my personal favorite) Larry Imperial IPA was already reached by May of this year...hopefully we'll start to see it in six or twelve packs!?
After the tour, I needed another beer, so I went back to the new tasting room and grabbed a Larry Imperial IPA (why not?). As great as it is in the 22oz bottle, it is incredibly delicious on tap and at the brewery! Equally as nice on draft (and at the brewery), is the Milk Stout. If you have not had one, the other, or both - you are sincerely missing out. These have to be my two favorite brews by Wachusett. You. Must. Drink. These. Beers.
More schmoozing took place with some of the aformentioned beer enthusaists, but I also met Jen, who writes for the Yankee Brew News publictaion you've probably seen at your local brewery or beer bar. Jen is a cool lady, and we had a few good laughs about the beer industry and some of the naming choices of Clown Shoes Beers.
Just prior to heading out, Stacey brought me two bombers of the Pumpkin Ale to take home with me. I couldn't have been happier, as I had such a great time at the event. I met some cool people, caught back up with people I haven't seen in a while, and enjoyed the event.
You should start seeing the 22oz bottles of Wachusett Imperial Pumpkin at your local stores and bars this week, if you haven't already seen them! If you have spotted them, let us know where you found them and what you thought of the beer!
*Once again, I have pictures for this post, but am having trouble uploading them. Once I the issue has been resolved, I will add the pics!