Fact—Big Boss knows how to throw a party.
Putting a twist on the much-celebrated Oktoberfest, the Big Boss crew hosted “Casktoberfest” on Thursday, September 29, 2011. With a drool-inducing list of casks to sample, including Blanco Diablo with ginger slices and Bad Penny with bourbon-soaked wood chips, I could imagine nowhere else to be but in this Raleigh industrial park. (Interjection—nowhere else to be unless I had a private jet taking me to Denver for GABF, and I sense most of the beer fans in attendance would agree)
Even with the doors opening at 5:00 p.m., the line to the casks was well over fifty people deep by the time I scooted in around 5:15 p.m. I was met with some grumbles from others waiting in line who were fearful that the casks would be depleted (um, I’m confident that these folks are professionals and would not throw a party that would last one whopping hour).
I spent my time grappling with a major life-decision—which to try first? I convinced myself (and my friend Mark waiting in line with me) to purchase two immediately. The double-fisters passing by enlightened me with their methods. Truly, it was a brilliant utilitarian principle in action—maximizing the amount of cask options in a world of limited supply.
I started with the Hell’s Bizz-Ness sour ale and Sack Time amber rye ale on rye whiskey soaked wood chips. The sour ale did not disappoint, and many others at the event agreed (and it was one of the first to go. Boo.) Many of us played “beer swap,” a timeless tradition of sharing tastes and viruses-of-the-month, to combat the need for returning to the line.
The chipotle, orange Hell’s Belle cask drew faces of more shock (some of—“I need bread now”). This spicy concoction did not dance on the tongue. It drop-kicked you in the face. Anne, a nursing student from Raleigh, enjoyed the cask-aged Harvest Time. The burning question—how did it compare to the kegged version? She thought it was better—“the spices are more mellow.” Overall opinion—smooth, easy to drink.
I ventured over to a group of amiable looking gents (Alex, Jeff, and Eddie, codename Mitch—all from Raleigh). I inquired of Alex what brought them to Big Boss on such a fine evening. He looked a bit incredulously at me and said, “They serve good beer.” Not much to argue with there. Eddie shared that they were Big Boss regulars, especially on Thursdays. His reasons were that it’s not crowded, there’s a pool table, and, most importantly, it’s nice to support local beer. They gave rave reviews to the cascade dry-hopped High Roller cask and Sack Time.
Claire, a graduate student from Carrboro, was eager to try the Bad Penny cask, but she, along with fellow Carrboro graduate student Amanda, said the best one was the Harvest Time randalized through a giant pumpkin. Note—be sure to check out pictures of this pumpkin in the gallery—truly remarkable engineering.
With all this talk about beer, I want to be sure to mention the delicious food. Otto and the crew from Bavarian Brats whipped up incredible fare—schnitzel sandwiches, Jager wings, pretzel rolls, and, of course, bratwursts. The line seemed neverending (and at times, felt it), but that was some satisfying schnitzel and saukraut.
Overall, the Big Boss team put on another successful event. Hundreds of folks came out to try new brews, eat excellent food, listen to great music, and support an amazing brewery in the Triangle. Proceeds went to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Irene disaster relief efforts, which only further justified that third, fourth, or ninth pint. Cheers to Dave, Brad, Jesse, and the entire Big Boss crew for bringing a little German love to Raleigh.