WEST HARTFORD — The Noah Webster Real Ale Harvest Fest returns for its fifth year on Saturday, Sept. 7. All proceeds from this one-of-a-kind brew fest will benefit the educational mission of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society.
The event is co-hosted by the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society and the Harvest family of stores including, Harvest Fine Wine & Spirits and Harvest Country Store.
The premise is simple: brewers create a one-off cask of real ale just for the event which must contain a flavoring from a designated ingredient list. Twenty-plus breweries from around the region are entering the competition. Real ale undergoes a second fermentation in the barrel or cask it will be served from, thus giving it a complex and sometimes creamy quality. Since it’s unpasteurized, this beer is good for this event only.
New this year is an expanded ingredient list that the brewers can select from to flavor their entry. Previously, brewers could opt from any of dozens of items found in Noah Webster’s 18th century kitchen garden like quince, thyme, lemon verbena, and lavender. This year, items from a colonial pantry have also been added such as cinnamon, chocolate, rose water, and horseradish.
“The variety of beer is stunning and each year the entries get better,” says Ian Halpern, director of operations, Harvest Fine Wine & Spirits. “The ingenuity, creativity and skill the brewers put forward and the quality of the ale they produce make this event unlike any other.”
The team from Goldburgers, Newington, will be cooking great food for purchase at the event. Like the brewers, chef Matt Crowley will be drawing inspiration from ingredients in the colonial garden and pantry.
Music has always been a focal point of the fest, and this year, regional favorites Steal Your Funk will play both sessions.
In addition to the casks entered into the competition, attendees will sample a variety of specialty beers in the “5th Anniversary Sours, Funky & Foreign Room” hosted by Harvest Fine Wine & Spirits. Harvest will be pouring an interesting range of offerings from Brasserie BFM of Switzerland, Belgium’s Rodenbach, Italy-based LoverBeer, and many others.
The 2018 champions will return to defend their respective titles. Counter Weight Brewing Co. of Hamden walked away with the Cask Champion award last year, while Woodbridge-based New England Brewing took the Tasters’ Choice Award.
Breweries competing include: Alvarium; Aspetuck Brew Lab; Blue Point Brewing; Back East Brewing; Brewery Legitimus; Cambridge Brewing Company; City Steam Brewing; Counter Weight Brewing; Firefly Hollow Brewing; Greysail Brewing of R.I.; Hanging Hills Brewing; Hog River Brewing; Kent Falls Brewing, New England Brewing; New Park Brewing; OEC Brewing; Relic Brewing; Singlecut Beersmiths; Still Hill Brewery; Stony Creek Brewing; Thomas Hooker Brewing, and Willimantic Brewing.
Tickets are available for both sessions: 2 to 5 p.m. or 6 to 9 p.m. Each session includes unlimited samples served in a souvenir tasting glass. Hop to it! Early Bird tickets are only $45 through August 15. After August 15, advance tickets are $50 or $60 at the door.
Attendees must be 21 or over with proper ID to attend. Please drink responsibly. Discounted tickets for designated drivers are $20 and there will be a reserved Lyft, Uber, and designated driver drop off point in front of the museum.
The event is held at the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford. Purchasers will receive an e-mail confirmation with parking information.
For information about the museum’s extensive school and public programs visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org or call 860-521-5362.