Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brew Fest 2012 At Mohegan Sun

What's better than getting out of town for a relaxing weekend then being the guest at Mohegan Sun's Brew Fest 2012 to boot?  That's what we did a few weeks back and our hosts could not have been more gracious.  When we arrived the weather was sunny and about 80 degrees.  We almost hated to spend the time indoors but we checked in, looked over our very comfortable accommodations and immediately started off.

We began by touring the main public lobby and taking in this soaring Dale Chihuly glass sculpture, the eye-catching centerpiece at Mohegan Sun.   Chihuly is a favorite of mine so I really loved seeing this.

It was then on to the very spacious conference center for the first afternoon session of Brew Fest 2012. Well over 100 brewers were represented and it was already fairly crowded.

We were handed our tasting glasses and began to sample.  Not all of the brews were actually local craft brews but there were some new finds for us and lots of our favorites.  You had unlimited tasting and it was fun to talk to many of the brewers.

Of course, I had to imbibe in a Dogfish or two.  In a venue this size it's hard to attract hyper local breweries but some of the locals I had never tried before were Long Trail Brewing and Beaver Beer, both of which were great.

The Lemon Berry Shandy was very popular.  One of the things I did notice while chatting with attendees is that not everyone knew the origin of some of their favorite brands.  Many large scale breweries do finance and support smaller craft style operations.  Thus, some new friends were surprised to learn that Shock Top (whose Raspberry Wheat we love) is actually owned by Anheuser-Busch.  A new brand we had not heard of, Batch 19, was clearly identified by Dean on his first sip.  When I tried it it was also clear to me that it tasted like Coors.  It is, in fact, owned by Coors and the brew is made based upon the original, pre Prohibition Coors recipe.

As the first session wound down a thick, heavy mist had settled in, almost looking like a snowstorm outside our window.  We relaxed for a bit before heading out to dinner at Bobby Flay's Bar American, a full review of which will follow later.

After dinner and a few more beer samples we toured the casinos and checked out the free Eddie Money Concert in the Wolf Den.  We are not at all gamblers but we did have a small gambling credit which we played at the slots.  We should have cashed out while ahead but it was fun being in the middle of it all and taking in some of the high rollers at the craps tables.  We also let our cameras seek out the architectural details such as this white birch wall covering.  The Saturday night Brew Fest session was yet more crowded and much more of a celebratory vibe, bordering on the frat house at times.  Clearly, a lot of people were loading up before hitting the clubs upstairs but it was never anything out of control.  Later, we wanted to take advantage of the 360 Shine Photo Booth but they had no access to props.  Oh well, we'll have to do that next time.

The next morning we were up bright and early photographing the sunrise and the beautiful fog lifting off the water from our window view.  It reminded me of the old stories I had read about life on a Native American Reservation, where it seemed like smoke was rising in the morning.  I headed to the on-premises Krispy Kreme bakery shortly after six A. M., where people were still playing the slots.  We had coffee and doughnuts, relaxed and read the papers and watched a few Sunday morning talk shows.  Thoroughly relaxing.

After a few hours we headed off to Seasons Buffet for a full, and I do mean full, late morning brunch.  The selection was endless and all of it quite good considering the volume.  Whatever you could possibly crave for breakfast was here and in an unlimited supply.

Sunday afternoon was the last session of the Brew Fest.  We scouted the booths on one, last tour to see if there was anything left we had not tasted.  We ran into some friends and chatted, comparing notes, before heading off.  It seems as though Mohegan has done a very good job with this first Brew Fest.  There was a good selection, live band entertainment, contests and informative brewers.  We did not see any seminars taking place and would have liked to have seen more food offerings.  As it was, any food available was for purchase only.  Then again, considering the price ($20.00) it was a great value for attendees.

Even for non-gamblers, there was plenty for us to do and lots of fun people-watching, eating and entertainment options.  The accommodations were quite comfortable and the service everywhere, from everyone, was excellent.  We hope this becomes an annual event!

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