Named after a fabled creature from Bavarian folklore, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company's (3229 Washington Avenue) annual Wolpertinger festival celebrates the spirit of craft beer and community. This year's event marked the third anniversary of the brewery, the public debut of their near-complete brewery and bierhall in the Grove, and the 40th birthday of co-founder and brewmaster Florian Kuplent. The high turnout filled the large dock area of the new facility and this party was jumpin'.
Joining the celebration, more than twenty local craft breweries, an Art Farm screen printing station and local act the Funky Butt Brass Band wrapped around the perimeter of the festival area. Long picnic tables filled the middle, where festival-goers enjoyed grub from Vincent Van Doughnut, Cha Cha Chow, Guerrilla Street Food and others camped outside the dock area. And as if all that wasn't busy enough, guided tours of the new facility left every five minutes.
Amid all the excitement, it took Gut Check a few minutes to get down to the business: Trying the beer. We made the festival's namesake beer -- a bigger version of UCBC's "Winged Nut" -- our first stop. Brown in color, the "Wolpertinger" had a delicious, roasty sweetness. In addition to the regular version, they also release a barrel-aged version of the "Wolpertinger" each year. UCBC aged this year's in red wine barrels from California's Roth Estate vineyard for several months. It had a smooth, fruity finish, and was by far our favorite beer of the event.
Other UCBC beers included 2013's festival beer -- the bourbon barrel-aged Wolpertinger -- a smoked version of the "Schnickelfritz," the newly released "Cuvee de Peche" (a fantastic peach sour beer), and "De Grote Man" -- a Belgian strong ale brewed to celebrate Kuplent's birthday.
Just a few of the guest highlights we tried included 2nd Shift's "Coffee Liquid Spiritual Delight" and "I Am Become Death," Charleville's "Amelie," Schlafly's American IPA, and Scratch Brewing Company's "Golden Strong Ale."
We managed to rip ourselves away from the tastings long enough to take a tour of the new UCBC facility. The new brewery will have retail space, a large indoor bar and dining area, and a patio. We were especially taken with the new bar, which wraps around an open brewing area. We can't wait to see the whole spectacle in action once it opens -- you will actually be able to watch the brewers make future batches of the beer as you sip on their past efforts.
UCBC plans to open the new bierhall in early spring. You can purchase many of their festival beers at the current brewpub.
Click through for more sneak peeks of the new brewery and bierhall, and for scenes from Wolpertinger.