11 beers I’ll be looking for at the 5th Annual Real, Wild & Woody festival

This Saturday will see the return of what might just be my favorite Arizona beer festival. I mean really, who doesn’t like Real, Wild & Woody?

The fifth annual edition, I have long viewed it as “the beer snob’s beer festival” because the price of admission is a bit higher than other similar events and the beers themselves are always of a higher caliber.

That’s not to say other beer festivals aren’t great, of course, nor am I trying to say the casual beer drinker should not attend this one. As long as you like beer, you’ll very much enjoy the festival.

Just, one trip to Real, Wild & Woody or a quick look at the taplist will show exactly what I am talking about.

Speaking of the taplist, has anyone else been getting the Untappd alerts for it? Just me? Well then, I guess you don’t know what it’s like to drool on your keyboard at work.

Your loss.

At any rate, it’s difficult not to contain my excitement with every notification, and because I have this outlet here I wanted to take a look at some of the beers I am most looking forward to sampling for the first time.

So without further ado, here we go:

Borderlands Cass’s Cask – IPA, 7 percent

Normally I go to festivals like this for the barrel-aged stouts, and that remains true. However, Borderlands makes one of my favorite IPAs — Toole Avenue — and will be bringing cask version of it that features Passion Fruit and Acai. While I am not one who would tell someone to mess with what works, I am absolutely intrigued to see what the talented brewers from Tucson have come up with.

Breakside Brewery Bourbon Barrel Aztec – Spiced/Herbed Beer, 10.6 percent

Fun fact: I was in Portland about a month back and stopped by Breakside for a bit. I don’t remember seeing this beer on the menu because if I had, I would have ordered it. A spiced/herbed beer that was aged in a Knob Creek whiskey barrel, the description says it has notes of vanilla, coconut, chocolate and red fruit. Does any of that sound bad? Didn’t think so, and at 10.6 percent this one should feature a nice boozy punch.

Dragoon Brewing Company Buffy – Barleywine, 10.3 percent

Another brewery from the Old Pueblo, Dragoon is bringing a barrel-aged barleywine that seems to be right up my alley. Aged 12 months in a mixture of whiskey barrels, it will be making its public debut at the festival. Looking at the beer through that lens, it would be quite rude not to swing by and give it a shot.

8-Bit Aleworks cereal collection

Have you seen what 8-Bit is bringing? The brewery in the West Valley that I need to get to will be bringing a Black Mage W/Cocoa Pebbles, Ryan’s Recurring Insanity W/ Fruity Pebbles, The Hefe is a Lie W/ Reese’s Puffs and White Mage W/ Cinnamon Toast Crunch. All will be cask conditioned, and each one of the four sounds absolutely delightful. A wheat wine, the Hefe offers the highest ABV at 10 percent, while the others are no more than 7.2. Regardless of the booze, I always look forward to trying random, fun takes on beers like these.

Four Peaks Rumsquatch – Barleywine, 10.7 percent

Hopsquatch is about as dependable a barleywine as you can find, and the fact that Four Peaks took a one-year old version and aged it 10 months inside wet rum barrels should produce something that is both unique and delicious.

Goldwater Brewing Co. Bourban BA Imperial Rye Teddy Conditioned on Coffee, Vanilla and Coconut – Brown ale, 10.2 percent

I’ve always felt that brown ales are an underappreciated style of beer, which is why I really appreciate Goldwater bringing this one to the festival. A brown ale aged on the many things this one was sounds terrific, and a nice boozy beer that is not a stout or barleywine.

Ironfire Brewing Company All. Oak. Everything – Stout, 11.5 percent

Ironfire makes some really good stouts, and the 2018 version of Last Rites is also on my list. I’m highlighting this one, however, because the description on Untappd is simply “BBA with orange peel.” Not exactly verbose, but plenty descriptive enough for me. A bit more research reveals it to be aged in bourbon and rum barrels. Yeah, I’ll take it.

OHSO Whiskey Shivers – Barleywine, 11.3 percent

There is admittedly not much for me to go off of with this one, as there are zero Untappd check-ins and the description says only, “Aged in whiskey barrels for one year.” But when you think about it, what more do you need?

Prescott Brewing Company BA Achoco Loco – Porter, 11.5 percent

A guilty pleasure of mine is Achocalypse, which is essentially Coco Puffs in a glass. I have had their Achoco Loco before, and I remember thinking about how great it would be if it was barrel-aged. This is a “wishes really do come true” beer, as it has been aged for eight months in a bourbon barrel. Sign. Me. Up.

Beer Research Institutes BA Dark Side Til I Die – Stout, 9.5 percent

Dark Side Til I Die is a very good stout made by BRI, and I remember the last time I had it hearing about the barrel-aged version. The thing is, the BA wasn’t available then, so I was left wanting. Well, because of RWW want no more, I shall.

Wren House Brewing Company KitKat Black Canyon – Stout, 13 percent

One thing I have learned over the just more than three years Wren House has been around is that nearly every special beer they make is gold. The Black Canyon stout is no different, being a mead BA imperial stout. This one is conditioned on KitKat bars, however. Give me a break? Give me this beer. Please, of course.

OK, so maybe that wasn’t exactly 11. In fact, I know it was not 11 different beers. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Because when it gets down to it, a festival like this makes it difficult to trim the list. We will have 20 sample tickets and plenty more beers than that to choose from.

The good news is this festival really does have something special for everyone. Barrel-aged, cask-aged or wild — there’s going to be great beer and great times Saturday afternoon at the Phoenix Convention Center.

See you there!

Adam Green

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