The Omaha Beer Fest took place today at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village. I’ve visited my brother & sister-in-law over the past couple years and attended this event. If memory serves, each year it’s rained for at least a part of the event and today proved no different. Pardon the pun, but it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of attendees as they got to sample new beer from brewers ranging all across the country.
The difficult part for the beer explorer attending consecutive years is finding new brews to sample. Often you can purchase VIP tickets for $15-$20 above the regular admission price if you’re fortunate enough to time it right. We weren’t so lucky. We were fortunate enough to get into two of the beer academy sessions where they provide instruction and selections not offered to the general public.
One class involved beers mixed with cocktails, but the other focused on cookie & beer pairings. Normally I’m not a fan of mixing beer with sweets, but this was eye-opening. This first pairing (all beer selections were from Infusion Brewing Company) was an oatmeal M&M cookie with Butcher Block Brown. Although this cookie style is far from my favorite, the pairing was tasty as the oatmeal blended quite well with the lightly roasted malt of the brown ale.
The second pairing featured a chocolate chip with chocolate icing and bacon-crumble cookie with a hoppier selection named Keg Stand. In this case, the bitterness of the hops in the beer was offset by the chocolate icing and salt from the bacon. This was a terrific blending of salty & sweet. I had to finish the cookie without an equal complement of Keg Stand. That was a shame.
The final offering was a rye whiskey barrel-aged barleywine (named NE-MO) paired with a chocolate chocolate chip cookie with a chocolate sriracha glaze. This was my favorite pairing as it blended chocolate with a hint of heat and a potent barleywine. This was chocolatey boozy warmth. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more full and satisfied by 2 1/2 cookies and three 4oz. pours.
Thanks to some new brewing participants, I was able to sample almost 20 new beers and that, paired with the first significant sunshine in nearly two weeks, made for an outstanding afternoon. Slàinte!