I went to the first annual Summerfest of the Massachusett's Brewer's Guild on September 3rd. This was the night that Hurricane Earl was moving past Boston, but it stayed out to sea and didn't cause any problems.
Over 20 breweries had booths and most were serving 4 to 5 different beers. I sampled a lot of good beers including a porter from Mayflower Brewing, a heather ale from Cambridge Brewing Co. and an ale that was wet hopped with Glacier hops from Harpoon.
Given the time of year, many of the breweries had an Octoberfest on tap. I've always thought that brewing a good Octoberfest is difficult, and tasting the festbeirs at Summerfest only reinforced that idea. Of the 4 Octoberfests I had, only one was decent. And even that beer — although it was well-made — really didn't taste much like a German Octoberfest. (I had an Ayinger Octoberfest on tap at the Sunset Grill yesterday and it was yummy.) The worst of the lot was swimming in diacetyl — why would you even bring a beer like that to a beer festival?
If Summerfest was any indication, most breweries these days are trying things that are new and creative to interest their customers. There were a lot of beers on tap that fell outside of the boundaries of "everyday" beer styles. There were plenty of barrel-aged beers, some sours, a wet-hopped beer, beers with unusual ingredients, etc. And most of these were pretty good....