Monday, October 15, 2012

Mohegan Sun BrewFest

Last weekend Sarah and I headed to Mohegan Sun for their first ever Sun BrewFest. Neither of us are big gamblers, save for Keno when at choice restaurants in Massachusetts or the occasional scratch or lotto ticket when we're feeling lucky. If we needed an excuse to visit one of the premier resort casinos in our region, a brew festival was a great reason - one which we took full advantage of.

The Sun BrewFest had three sessions, as most festivals do - two one day, and one on another. A lot of the times the festivals have an opening session on Friday evening, and then they have two sessions on Saturday. Perhaps because it was Columbus Day weekend, the folks at Mohegan Sun did it a little bit differently. They had two sessions on Saturday, and one on Sunday. Fortunately, our media passes were for all three sessions.

On our way, we decided to stop in at Armsby Abbey in Worcester, and later Willimantic Brewing Company for some lunch. It was the first nice day in Massachusetts / Southern New England for what appeared to be weeks, which only added to the drive. We arrived at the casino about a half hour before the second session kicked off, just in time to get in line for the brewfest.

The line was quite long, but it was moving quite quickly. The staff seemed to have this well rehearsed and they shuffled thirsty beer drinkers into the Uncas Ballroom one after another.

Hartford Better Beer & Thomas J Hooker - CT
Grey Sail Brewing Company - Westerly, RI

Beaver Beer - Westport, CT

The great part about this brewfest is that it was giving us an opportunity to try some beers from breweries we don't see distributed in the Boston area and north. Willimantic Brewing Co, Cottrell Brewing,  Hartford Better Beer Co, Cambridge House Brew Pub, Southpoint Brewing Company, Old Burnside, City Steam, and Beaver Beer, all from Connecticut were there pouring several beers each. Additionally, Grey Sail Brewing Co. - Rhode Island's first and only all keg and can brewery were handing out samples.

The brewery list also included some staples of craft beer; Samuel Adams, Otter Creek, Long Trail Brewing, and Sierra Nevada. Additionally, there were some breweries you don't typically see being represented, such as Guinness, Shock Top, and Heineken.

The Saturday evening session was packed. Like, really, really packed. It was a Saturday though, so that was not to be unexpected. Nevertheless, it was so packed that we only hung around for about an hour and a half. This was a huge ballroom and there seemed to be plenty of space to host some 30+ breweries, but it seemed like there was a lot of wasted space. Most of the breweries were lined up next to the entrance, which made for some traffic problems. There was a lot of standing and milling in line, and you often had to fight the crowd to find the line to a particular brewery. Had there been at least another 30 or so feet between the opposing rows of brewers, there would have been less congestion.

On the bright side though, the people at the event were quite friendly and seemed to be in great moods -it's kind of hard not to with so much beer being poured! We chatted with a few of the guests to see what brought them to the event, and more than once we heard that the trip to the casino was planned around attending the brewfest, which is great news for the many Southern New England breweries in attendance that weekend.

Seeing how our media passes were good for all three sessions, I went back for the first hour or so of the Sunday session. Needless to say, there were far less people there. I was able to chat with some of the brewers, spread the good word about Brew England, and try some new (to me) beers. Some of the stand outs were Old Burnside Dirty Penny, Grey Sail Cream Ale, and Beaver Beer Brunette, but there were plenty more to chose from. If this turns into an annual event though, it would be great to see even more regional craft brewers and less of the macro beers.

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