Gravity Head 2016 enjoys a big boozy kick off

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By Writing Community Member David Kahl

The 18th edition of New Albanian’s Gravity Head Festival began on Friday, February 26th, at the Pizzeria and Public House in New Albany, IN. The annual festival features high gravity beers around 10% ABV, with somewhere between 8-12 taps in rotation for the duration of the festival. The rest of the taps continue to serve their awesome house beers and variety of guest taps.

Opening day of Gravity Head has become a tradition in itself for many, starting with breakfast at 7 AM, the only day of the year NABC opens that early. It also features a specific guest brewery, and this year’s feature is none other than Stone Brewing from Escondido, California.

New Albanian has always been about community, and that is exactly what I experienced on my opening day visit. Taking my seat at the bar on the Public House side, I cozied up for some people watching, conversation, and beer. Over the next couple hours, I met several craft beer lovers, industry insiders, Stone representatives, and home brewers all having a good time mingling over delicious half pints.

One of the great traditions of Gravity Head is that no samples or flights are available for the selections. The founders of the festival believe that you must commit to your beer choice to truly enjoy it. Ultimately, this leads to more conversation about beer, as strangers are happy to offer suggestions, and adding to the community feel of the event.

I started out with Stone’s Farking Wheaton wOOtstout, clocking in at 13% ABV. It pours a beautiful dark brown with a nice tan head. I enjoyed strong chocolate flavors with a touch of creaminess and a hint of coffee roast. It had a slight alcohol warmth, but not so much to hinder the flavor.


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At the recommendation of Tisha Gainey, the organizer of Louisville’s Tailspin Ale Fest and the upcoming Fest of Ales (who I had just met), my next beer was Stone’s Xocoveza Mocha Stout. Another beautifully presented beer, this one tasted of a strong coffee, a bit of cake, and some pepper. It was complex and delicious, and will be on my “drink it when I find it list” for sure.

Stone’s Imperial Mutt Brown offered a change up from the stouts with a lighter feel and nutty flavor. A deceptive 9% ABV, it was a solid beer that went down much too smoothly!

I finished the night by going with an Indiana beer, enjoying Sun King’s Bourbon Barrel Timmie. Another complex beer at 10% ABV, it offered notes of vanilla, oak, and cream in perfect balance with the chewy stout. It was a very nice beer, indeed, and a great end to the evening.

In another Gravity Head tradition, not all the beers are tapped at once. The festival runs as long as there are kegs, generally through March, and often up to Session Beer Day. You can come when you can, order a delicious pizza (I suggest the Big Ten), and enjoy whatever awesome beer happens to be available. You can find the full line up on the NABC website, and see the current offerings on Facebook.

I’ll be back before the end of the festival, for sure. I’d highly recommend you do the same! And when you do, pull up a chair and say hi to your neighbor. Be part of the community. That’s what Gravity Head is all about!


 
 

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