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Cheers to Beers at the Boston Beer Summit Harvest

The culture of craft beer has become lively and vibrant over the past several years. Festivals showcasing local brewers are common in cities across America, drawing enthusiasts and newcomers alike. The 6th Annual Boston Beer Summit Harvest Fest, held at the Park Plaza Castle on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21, is one of the biggest in New England. Featuring 56 breweries and showcasing over 200 beers, the Summit promises to be a unique and thrilling event.

harvest_darkredThe Beer Summit encompasses three sessions where attendees can spend three and a half hours going from table to table testing brews primarily from New England (particularly Massachusetts and Rhode Island), but also from across the country and around the world. The only requirement is the beer must be distributed in Massachusetts. The convention-style festival includes classic Boston food, such as the Sausage Guy,  music from local bands and an iHeartMedia DJ.

Officially starting back in 2009, the Boston Beer Summit traces its origins to 1999 when a group of craft beer fans wanted an outlet to discuss and taste the latest brews from around the world. “The original idea was we’ve got these great beers and there are only so many places around Boston where you can get them,” recalls Mike Munnelly, an event organizer for the Summit. “Let’s essentially throw a house party where we invite 50 of our favorite brewers and 5000 of our closest friends and try these new beers.”

The Beer Summit is a haven for college students interested in learning more about craft beer. The $55 entrance fee provides one with a tasting mug that can be used at every table, allowing younger enthusiasts to try as many brews as they can within the time period. With the average six-pack coming in at around $10, for the same price a consumer would only be able to try about five beers. Mix in food, water and a few songs at the stage and a student could easily get to seven or more.

Brewers from famous labels such as Ommegang, Henniker Brewing Company, Woodchuck Cider and others will also be available to discuss techniques and tastes with attendees, making this an opportunity learn more about craft brewing. “You’re not necessarily winning people over or opening their minds by exposing them to a Sierra Nevada,” said Munnelly. “You’re talking about what ingredients people tried that came out like an experiment gone well.”

First-timers may be immediately overwhelmed by the packed hall, but organizers such as Munnelly have tips for making the most out of the Boston Beer Summit. “Obviously you have to go with your pal, but also take your palate out of it,” he recommends. For example, if you are not a fan of pumpkin beers, do not bother with that table. However, don’t be afraid to approach a brewer you are not familiar with and asking which of their brews might appeal to you based on past experiences.

The tendency of  young people to pre-game these types of events is ill-advised. “A lot of people pre-game and that is just foolish,” Munnelly states. “You obviously get as much as you can handle, but you ruin your taste buds if you go out and have a couple Bloody Mary’s. You have horse radish up and down your tongue and it’s going to make things taste differently.” Cut in water and protein between brews to help restore your palate and keep your taste buds sharp.

The Boston Beer Summit expects around 3000 attendees, so those interested in one of the best brewing festivals in New England should get their tickets soon. You do not want to miss out on this Boston-based craft beer spectacle.

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