Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vertical Tasting of Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot

You would think that with SF Beer Week going on, we would be to our limit with tasting beer. But when 4 friends come to town and 2 of them come in by past midnight before Toronado's Barleywine Festival, you know we had to break out something tasty.

SO we tried a vertical of Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine- years 08, 09 & 10. All 9.6% abv.

Bigfoot 2010- Poured a clear orangish teak. Smelled very floral with notes of grass, lemon, citrus and not too much hop character. It tasted like bitter grapefruit, citrus, pine and leaves a large hoppy bitterness on the back of the tongue. Pretty good drinkability.

Bigfoot 09- poured the same orange brown with a shade darker than the 2010 version. It smelled hoppier than the 2010, more malt flavors, grapefruit. It smelled the best out of all three.
It tasted of hops, bitter grapefruit skin, citrus, some light toffee and malt flavors.

Bigfoot 08- the darkest color of them all- dark copper orange. It smelled of more malt characters than hops- toffee, vanilla, caramel and light citrus. It tasted more bitter than the 09 with more flavors of bitter grapefruit skin, light malt and citrus.

Overall, my favorite was the 2009 Bigfoot for it's fantastic malt/hop balance. The 2010 is great for a fresh barleywine that is still $10 a six pack, which is amazing. It's a good barleywine to start with if you have never had one before. It's also a good beer to have your first vertical with, as it is not too expensive and you can definitely tell the difference in the age of each. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

SF Beer Week: 1st in line at Toronado's Barley wine Festival

Toronado Barleywine Festival

February 13 - 14, 2010

17th Annual Toronado Barleywine Festival

Location: Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, California

Time(s): 11:30AM-2AM

Admission: no charge

So this posting is a few days late, but I confess, I thought I lost my barleywine notes. Many hours of standing in line, followed by many hours of drinking barley wine with LOTS of note taking,  then a trip to Dolores Park and a fight at home with myself not to fall asleep before 10pm-which was lost at 9:45-resulted in me apparently forgetting which pair of jeans that I wore.  The pair that  I swore I wore did not have my barleywine list in it, nor was it anywhere else in my apartment. Then after a few days, I put another pair of jeans on and voila, my barleywine list! YEAH!
So considering this is my 3rd attendance (and Dave's 7th) and we had a bunch of friends in town visiting that we had to save space for at our table, we got our butts up early and waited in line for about 4 hours. Plus they opened at noon, a 1/2 hour later than they were suppose to- but all in all worth the wait. We were first in line! Whoot! Whoot! I felt like a celebrity for those many hours in line. I bet I was the 1st woman in the history of Barleywine festival to be first in line and to enter! 
We got our photos taken, we were interviewed and on camera. (though I did terrible math when asked how long we were in line- I was up very early that morning)
Here are some links here:
When we first entered, we were given a bottle of Rogue's Old Crustacean, 6.4oz from 1995! I haven't had mine yet but I will let you guys know how it tastes when I open it. 

SO out of 48 barley wines, we tried 35, not that we couldn't try all 48, but there were a few that we could get anytime and we would rather get the rare stuff and drink more of those than the others (like the back room barrel aged goodness). As my friend said,        "Barrel aging beer is the equivalent of bacon wrapping. Do you want Lobster? Or do you want bacon wrapped lobster?"

My top 3 in order of favorites were:
1- Lost Abbey's Angel Share Grand Cru, 10% and brandy barrel aged. (This was Dave's favorite as well). It had tons of vanilla, malt, toffee, molasses, brandy- sweet and delicious with not much burn.
2-Dogfish Head's Olde School 15%. I truly liked this barleywine. Not many men did, although many of the women that I talked to did as well. It was very different compared to the others- TONS of muscat notes, honey, fresh grapes, caramel and sweet malt flavors. Delish.
3-Firestone Walker, Abacus Blend-  barrel aged and 12%. It had a great nose- tons of toffee, caramel, bourbon, vanilla and malt

My honorable mention ones are:
1-Oskar Blue's ODB, 13.2%- one time small batch. I thought it was the best for hops/malt balance with a good bitter spice character to it and very interesting malt flavors.
2-Alpine Brewing's Great, 14.2%. Flavors of: toffee, caramel, bourbon, malt, a touch of hops and slightly yeasty. I wrote: this is what I think of when I think of barley wine.
3-Anderson Valley's Barkley's Sour Horn, 9%. It had a light sourness to it with some butterscotch notes. It had a good sour/malt balance and it was very interesting. I wrote: I wouldn't kick it out of bed. 
4- Hebrew's Human Blockhead, 10% Lager. It had a good nose! Honey, light spice character, for a lager, it was pretty good but it was 10% and all.

My least favorite:
 Schooners' Devil's Inventory, 11.2%- a blended collaboration with Valley brewing. It was very weird- belgiany, soda like and smelled like cherry coke in an artificial way.

And for the official Toronado Barley wine contest winners:

Ah, SF Beer week is officially now I can start to recover and await next year's great lineup.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SF Beer Week: Mystery Beer Night at City Beer

Mystery Beer Night: Midnight Sun Brewing
Feb 12, 2010
Free Admission
All Day Event

It's never a bad idea to end the week at City Beer Store, especially if it is SF Beer Week.
It was the debut of Midnight Sun Brewing, out of Anchorage Alaska's beers to be distributed down our way. We only tried 2 of their beers and one from Cascade because we did find out of a local beer bar that had Pliny the Younger on 'secret' tap for those in the know. I won't divulge the info on the place as Pliny is already gone and I want to keep their secret for doing something so awesome. Considering we went to 2 different beer events just for Pliny the Younger and Dave didn't get any, we had to go to this place.

We tried in order: Cohoho IPA, Panty Peeler and Cascade's Sang Noir.

Cohoho IPA in an imperial IPA made by Midnight Sun. It is made with brown sugar, honey and juniper berries. 8% abv. It poured a dark mahogony. It smelled of light hops, grass, citrus, and pine. It tasted bitter upfront with a strong grapefruit back note and a watery finish. It was just ok in my books for imperial ipa's.

Panty Peeler is a Tripel by Midnight Sun  and 8.5%. It is made with bitter orange peel, coriander and belgian yeast. Kudos on the name, of course. It poured a vintage orangish brown. It had honey, coriander spice, banana, clove and belgian yeast on the nose. It tasted of spice, honey, ripe bananas some apples and belgiany. It is very fruity and pleasant.

Sang Noir by Cascade Brewing is a barrel aged sour brewed with cherries and 8% abv. It poured a pitch red dark brown with a hint of black. It smelled of cherries, Brett and sweet malts. It tasted sweet and sour with cherry goodness, malt and oak notes. It was my favorite of the bunch, but I am a fan of Cascade and any sours, so I'm partial.

After these 3 beers, it was getting a bit crowded and we wanted to make it in time for the Younger, so we bought 2 bottles of Midnight Sun's Treat beer, which is an imperial chocolate pumpkin porter and 7.8%. It is brewed with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. I will let you know how that one tastes.

Oh and that bar did have Pliny the Younger on secret tap. We had 4 glasses for $6 each. 

Dave finally had his love of SF Beer week restored.

Monday, February 15, 2010

SF Beer Week: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Night at Toronado

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Night

February 11, 2010

Location: Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, California
Time(s): 6PM+
Admission: no charge

Another SF Beer night, another night we stumble upon Toronado. Well, actually, we went because we tried to go to The Page after hearing they had Pliny the Younger on draft. But by the time we got there it was kicked, so instead of being utterly disappointed once again, we headed to Toronado for their Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Night. The program is what Sierra Nevada calls "Beer Camp".  For Beer Camp, they invite people who work in the beer industry to go and spend a couple of days at Sierra Nevada.  The first day is spent exploring the brewery, sampling beer, and learning about the history and future of Sierra Nevada.  On the second day, campers meet with the brewers in their research and development brewery.  There they come up with a recipe that they would like to brew, in any style in which they choose.  Once they come up with a style, projected abv, and recipe, they brew the beer.  When the beer is ready they have the kegs shipped back to their establishments and have their own micro release beer on tap. 

We tried in order: Edge of Darkness, Golden Ticket, Hopstar, and Hoptimum.

Edge of Darkness- is a brown ale made with star anise and molasses made by Beer camp #12. 6.75% abv. It poured an opaque dark brown with a light cream head. It smelled of roasted malt, a hint of raisin and some light hops. It tasted light with a good malt character, some anise flavors, chocolate milk, good hop bitterness and an espresso ending. It had a good drinkability to it for being so light.

Golden Ticket-Beer Camp #14 created this Baltic Porter. 7.3% abv. It's the most talked about beer camp beers. It poured eclipse black. It  had roasted malt, molasses, espresso and chocolate aromas. It tasted like molasses, malt, toffee, and some hop bitterness. It had a buttery aftertaste.

Hopstar- IPA made with Simcoe, Chinook, Amarillo and Magnum hops.  7.5% abv. Made by Beer Camp #17, including member from Toronado and City Beer Store. It is the first beer camp beer to ever be torpedoed, which is Sierra Nevada's proprietary dry hop method. It poured a golden yellow. It smelled of hops, citrus, grapefruit with a hint of caramel. It had a good bitterness to it, was very dry with pine, woods, grass and a hint of citrus flavors, minus grapefruit.  Very drinkable.

Hoptimum- Made at Beer Camp #19 and 10.4%. It had members from Toronado, Zeigeist, Pi Bar, Barclays and the B Street Bistro. It's an Imperial IPA with pale and Munich malts, Simcoe, Chinook, Citra and Magnum hops. It poured a yellowish brown. It smelled of lemon citrus, hops and grass. It tasted light with some bitterness, some sweetness but not too hoppy.

All in all, a good night of drinking at Toronado yet again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sf Beer Week: Oyster Fest at Magnolia

Feb 11



Nothing gets me out of the house faster than fresh shucked oysters. My husband and I have been known to buy a bag of 100 and shuck and eat them all (with some help from our friends of course). Plus I knew they had an oyster stout available and I have never had that type of stout before. AND it's their Strong Beer Month, so I knew I could get some good stuff.

I went around 4pm and sat outside due to the lovely weather and the craziness inside.
 I had their own: Oysterhead Stout,  Four Winds Quadrupel and their Old Thunderpussy Barley wine. Not to mention I had some of their food that was paired with these.

First up:  Oysterhead Stout- brewed with 20 dozen Hog Island Sweetwater oysters & 5.2%. It poured a pitch black with a chocolate brown cream head. It smelled of roasted coffee, toasted malt with some mineralness in it (I assume from the oysters). It tasted like burnt espresso, malt  and a light oysterness to it. It was very bitter and a tad dry.  It was pretty good, considering the oysterness but it's the first one I've tried, so I don't quite have anything to compare it to.

So I paired it with 2 types of oysters: BBQ'd and Rockefeller both 3 for $6. I would have had and preferred the raw but at $2.50 a pop, this was a better deal. Plus I can get fantastic $1 oysters everyday, so to pay 2 1/2 times the price, didn't seem worth it to me. The bbq'd oysters were sweet, chewy and spicy. Paired with the Oysterhead Stout, the bitterness of the stout complimented the sweet while the heat lingers on your tongue. I also tried the oysters with the quadrupel just for fun. The 4 Winds Quadrupel  became more sweet and the spicy flavors came out. 
Oysters Rockefeller are cooked oysters with sort of a creamy spinach sauce on them. They were creamy, spinachy and a drop of the oyster mineral to them. That's always a bit disappointing when I can't quite taste the oyster, as I love the oyster flavors and always eat them raw- straight up without any condiments. So I admit, I was a bit out of my element trying both types of cooked oysters. Anyway, the Oysterhead Stout did not work with these at all. The bitter coffee notes overpower this combination. I did not like it with the other two beer either. It might go well with an IPA or Hefeweizen- definitely something lighter.

I also tried THE most amazing salad. Warm Frisee and Radicchio Salad with fried pheasant egg, oyster vinaigrette and only $7! OMG I was in heaven. Who knew? It had a fantastic bitterness from the radicchio, creaminess from the egg and a TON of raw oyster flavor in the vinaigrette. Absolutely fantastic. I tried it with the Oysterhead Stout and it was interesting and less bitter with the stout, but it did not wow me and I wanted the bitterness to be there. The other 2 didn't work either- way too sweet. I again, should of had an IPA to go with the bitterness of this salad.

Next up: 4 Winds Quadrupel and 9.1% abv. It poured a clear red rust with no head. It smelled of cherries, dark fruits, malt, vanilla bean and a hint of sour funkiness. It tasted sweet with malt flavors, toffee, dried plums and a tad sour. It finished dry on the tongue. I really enjoyed it.

Then Magnolia had some $5 pairings, which in itself was awesome and I had the suggested pairing with this one: Olive oil poached baby octopus and fried chickpeas with honey spice. The chickpeas were out of this world! I would just order a bowl of them. They were slightly sweet with a salty fried crunch. The octopus did not have that much flavor to them besides some thyme and they were a bit mushy chewy, not firm chewy. Paired with the Old Thunderpussy, the sweetness was really brought out between the chickpeas and the barley wine. You start to get some good cereal tastes occurring together as well. The saltiness gets washed away with the maltiness of the beer. Paired with the 4 Winds, as suggested by their menu, the taste becomes more bitter and the salt flavors came out more. It wasn't bad, I just preferred it with the barley wine.
Old Thunderpussy Barleywine- 10.8%. Points for the name.  It poured a hazy teak with no head. It did not have much of a nose- just a touch of candied fruits and malt. It tasted of caramel, toffee, malt with a touch of bitter grapefruit hops and a tad sweet. It was very dry on the tongue from the hop presence. Overall, a pretty well balanced barley wine.

All in all, it was a great meal. I need to go here more often but Dave always complains that it's too expensive. These beers were only $2 pours and the $5 pairings, $7 amazing salad and a little overpriced oysters were definitely a deal for the whole package. Get your butt their to try some Strong Beers!

SF Beer Week: Lagunitas Night at Toronado (RR leftovers too)

February 10, 2010

Lagunitas Night

Location: Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, California
Time(s): 6PM+
Admission: no charge

Dave and I went to Toronado for Lagunitas night, which just so happened to be the night after their Russian River 'tion Night. We were very excited with the leftovers from the night before that we only tried 1 beer from Lagunitas. Especially because they had some verticals of Supplication and Temptation, so we just had to try those together.  We went at 10pm on Wednesday and managed to get a seat at the bar, which is always a plus. 

We tried in order: Supplication 07 & 09, Temptation 08 & 09, Beatification, Mortification, Interlude by Allagash and Maximus IPA on cask by Lagunitas.

Supplication by RR is a brown Ale aged in French oak Pinot Noir barrels with three strains of BrettanomycesLactobacillus, Pediococcus and sour cherries. 7% abv. The Supplication 07 is a two year old aged version. It poured beautiful teak color. It smelled of fresh sour cherries, oak and Brett. It tasted sour on the sides and back of my tongue with some oak dryness. There is cherry fruit upfront but it is sour but not super pucker sour. The Supplication 09 looked pretty much the same except a shade lighter. It's nose was not as pungent at all compared to the 07. The taste is more fresh bing cherries,  more oak and less sour pucker. I got some pucker on the roof of my mouth, but it has much more fruit compared to the 07. If you are new to sours, this one would be a good one to try. It's not as full bodied as the 07 but it tastes more fruity and oak. Dave liked the 09 better, however I appreciated the more sourness you got out of the 07.

Temptation by RR is a blonde Ale aged in French oak chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces and it's 7.25% abv. The Temptation 08 poured a clear deep marigold with a creamy white head. The 08 is a shade darker than the 09. The 08 had an incredible nose- chardonnay grapes, oak, fresh green grape juice. It tasted of fresh grapes, lemon peel, oak, chardonnay with a hint of honey. A very pretty beer. The 09 did not have a strong aroma compared to the 08. I had to smell it hard just to get some oak notes out of it. It tasted of citrus, pink grapefruit, honey, and a sour dry finish. It was good, but I hands down enjoyed the 08 better. It was almost like a completely different beer. Get your hands on some if you can.

Beatification by RR is a wild ale that is  100% spontaneously fermented beer using the oldest barrels that no longer have any wine flavor or oak flavor left in them. 5.5% abv. It poured a cloudy sun yellow. It smelled of sour, oak and Brett. It tasted sour! Lemon, lemon, lemon sour, Brett and super dry. It is one tart beer! Reminiscent of Isabelle Proximus, a one note incredibly sour beer.

Mortification is a quadrupel and 11% abv. It poured a nice dark chocolate with some red highlights. It smelled of sour malt, toffee, cherry, dried plums and vanilla. It tasted like roasted malt, plums, cherries with a hint of sour funk. Pretty tasty.

Interlude by Allagash is a wild ale aged in French Merlot and Sirah oak barrels. 9.5% abv. It poured a deep sienna orange brown without any head. It smelled of cherry, dark fruits, malt, toffee and some red wine. It tasted like lemons, malt, caramel, touch of vanilla, oak and a sour ending with a dry finish. It is very wine like but it seems a bit off. There's some astringency going on with some phenol and solvent characters- not a good sign.

Last but not least, and the only Lagunitas beer we tried of the evening (only because the ones offered we could get anytime and the RR beers were a bit more interesting and rare, though we did ask for the Brown Sugga on cask but it was just kicked):

Maximus on cask by Lagunitas is an Imperial IPA and 7.5% abv. What is a cask ale? Cask ale is often referred to as 'real ale' is unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that still contains live yeast. It is always served from a hand pulled from a handpump and without an extraneous gas, like beer from a keg. It is served warmer than keg beer, between 54-56 degrees, which is cool but not chilled like keg beer. This lets the aromas and flavors become more prevalent. It poured a orange copper with no head. It smelled of grapefruit, grass and sweet juicy hops. It tasted like bitter grapefruit peel, hint of sweet malt, hops and very wet. It was not too bitter at all. 

All in all, Toronado seems to be wining it for us for great beer, less crowds and good deals for this year's SF Beer Week. Did I mention that every brewery they feature each night is happy hour prices? I don't recommend going to RR night because it's insanely crowded but leftovers are usually ridiculous as well and way more accessible. Looking forward to Saturday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

SF Beer Week: Russian River at Pi Bar

Brewery Night: Russian River Brewing Co. plus Meet Brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo

1432 Valencia St.

February 9
3:00pm - 11:00pm
Admission: No Charge

So being that Pliny the Younger sold out at Russian River Brewery in 2 hours, my friend and I went as soon as we could to Pi Bar to get a taste of that crazy sought after beer. (You can read RR's letter to their fans expressing their apologies here) We were there by 3:45 and the keg was kicked by 5pm, unbeknownst to my husband who left work early and arrived by 5:15 just to taste his favorite beer. My friend and I managed to both have a 6oz pour and tried other beers thinking we could come back and have another glass. Considering it wasn't crowed at all- I counted 25 people in the bar until 5:15, I was in shock to hear it was kicked. We also looked at everyone's beers and it wasn't like people were chugging 3 pints of Pliny each, people were drinking other beers. So we were dumbfounded to hear it was gone. Personally, I think the keg was tapped the night before to owners or friends because there is no way a 5 gallon keg would be kicked that fast. So it was beyond disappointing to my husband and all of their other customers who walked in after 5pm. I know some people who came in and just left because of it- not a good way to start any good customer relations.  Not to mention that the majority of these beer events start before 6pm (not only at Pi Bar). Basically, the locals who work a normal job, love beer and year round support these establishments have no shot in hell to get any great rare beers, so it has become an event for tourists to travel here to get good beer. It's kind of a shame. Anyway, enough of my rantings.

I tried in order: Pliny the Younger, Supplication, Rejection, and Consecration.

Pliny the Younger- Imperial IPA & 10.75%. It poured a golden vitamin pee yellow with a touch of white cream for a head. It smelled of lemon, lime peel, pine, grass and hops. It tasted surprisingly sweet with a bitter grapefruit peel on the back of the throat. It left my mouth tingly and dry. 

Supplication-Brown Ale aged in Oak barrels with Cherries added & 7%. It poured a red rust color. It smelled of sour cherry, oak and a hint of malt. It tasted pucker sour with dried cherries, oak, and wood. The sour was on the side of my tongue. It is very wine like- pretty good. Bottles just came out of it, so you might want to pick some up at City Beer Store.

Rejection-Belgian inspired black beer brewed for Valentine's Day & 6.1%. It poured a cola brown. It smelled of malt, vanilla, caramel with some coffee notes. It tasted pretty much the same as the nose- vanilla, toffee, roasted malt and espresso. It was my friends' favorite beer of the evening- and he loves Pliny.

Consecration- Barrel aged sour ale with currants added & 10%. One of my all time favorite sours. It poured ruby red. It smelled of sour cherries, oak and funk. It tasted like dried currants, sour pucker, oak, wood and cabernet.  Very wine like and tasty.

Overall, it wasn't a bad experience. We got in early, got a table and had waitress service, which was nice. Although on a side note, if you buy a beer from the table, they charge you tax, which stinks because alcohol prices already have tax built into the price, so you get double taxed on beer. But they aren't the first or the last restaurant to do this. I am not a fan of their pizza either, as every time I get it it is always burnt and the crust is like a thick hard cracker. I wish it was more like Pizzeria Delfina, but they always have a great beer selection and anything other than their pizza on their menu has been pretty great (especially their polenta fries and home made rainbow cookies). Still, I don't understand the younger, but I hear a local bar here has a keg that they are saving for after SF Beer week for the actual locals to try some. Now that's customer service.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SF Beer Week: Lost Abbey & Pizza Port at Toronado

February 7, 2010

Lost Abbey & Port Brewing Night

 Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, California

Sunday Feb 7, 2010  6PM+

Admission: no charge

Anytime I am forced to watch football- especially the Superbowl, I at least have to have some decent beer to get me through (Yeah New Orleans! Always got to route for the underdog). And anytime Toronado has some awesome event, especially during SF Beer Week, it is always a mad zoo. Last time I went to Russian River night during SF Beer Week 2009 and it literally took me 2 hours to get a beer. This time however, with the perfect timing of the Superbowl, it wasn't the case. It was busy but not swamped, which made it way more easy to get some great beer from The Lost Abbey and Pizza Port.

We made it in time to try: Cable Car 09Duck Duck GoozeVeritas 007Red Poppy and Mongo- in that order.

Cable Car 09 by Lost Abbey is an American Wild Ale aged in oak barrels and 7%. It poured a hazy straw yellow. It smelled very sour, some Chardonnay notes, citrus, oak, wood and some funk. It tasted like citrus, lemon, a hint of pineapple, oak, wood and extremely sour from start to finish with some good bitterness in there as well. It was the tartest of the evening. 

Duck Duck Gooze by Lost Abbey is an American Wild Ale, 7%  and hard to get a hold of since they brew it in very small quantities. It's a blend of their young and old barrel aged beers. It poured a hazy straw yellow with a hint of white head and lacing. It smelled of tart citrus, sour green apples, oak, and some leather notes. It tasted sharp and tart at first with some lemon peel and wood. Then it finished a bit sour and dry but very well balanced.

Veritas 007 by Lost Abbey. It is an American Wild Ale, 8% and it is barrel aged on Cabernet Franc grapes. It poured a beautiful pinkish red color with a dollop of white foam. It smelled of fresh sour cherries, funk, overripe peaches and Cabernet. It tasted sour with a hint of peaches, sour cherries, tart grapes, oak, cabernet but not too overly puckery. There's a rumor that the base is Isabelle Proximus then aged with Cabernet Franc  grapes. It was overall really great- my favorite of the evening.

Red Poppy Ale by Lost Abbey is a Flanders Oud Bruin style beer and 5.5%. It is a brown ale brewed with sour cherries and aged in oak barrels for over 6 months. It poured a beautiful copper red with a pinky full of a white head. It smelled of citrus, sour cherries and a hint of barnyard funkiness- kind of a one note nose. It tasted like dried sour cherries,  Brett, and vinegar. The sour cherriness was pretty well balanced. 

Mongo by Port Brewing is an Imperial IPA and 8.5%. It poured a clear sunset orange color with an off white head. It smelled of citrus, grapefruit rind, lemon peel, hops, and a hint of peach. It tasted of juicy hops, some toasted malts, grapefruit, citrus peel and a touch of honey. It was quite balanced between the bitterness of the hops and the sweet malts. Great drinkability. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sf Beer Week: Alesmith at City Beer Store

Alesmith Tasting Event

Saturday Feb 6th
$25 for 5 tastes ($20 if you bought then earlier)

We were there by 3pm and were expecting it to be packed. It was busy but not too annoyingly crowded, which is always a good thing especially considering it is SF Beer Week. They actually held the event across the street at Triptych to accommodate more people- smart move on their part because the City Beer store itself can get pretty crowded. Plus they gave you a free tasting sniffer glass which has the city beer logo on them- pretty cute.

So we walked right in- got 2 red tickets for the 'special rare beers', which included Alesmith's Decadence and their Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout. Alesmith's Decadence is a Anniversary beer that changes in style every year since since they started making it in 2005. This year it was a dark weizenbock featuring malted wheat and a unique German yeast. Alesmith's Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout is very rare beer that they make less than 200 bottles of it per year.

So we walked in and right to the rare stuff- first up, a glass of their Decadence. Being 9%, it is their lowest ABV that they have made for this beer yet. It poured a dark mahogany with a thin creamy oatmeal colored head. It smelled like stewed raisins, fresh vanilla beans, roasted malts, some yeast and some cereal. It tasted like dried plums, raisins, some toffee and malt. It was not too heavy and was a bit interesting for a dark weizenbock. It was not an barrel aged Speedway Stout, however and we quickly realized our mistake. We should have just gotten 2 pours of the Speedway Stout since we could have gotten a bottle of the Decadence and have had more of the rare stuff.

So then we went to try the event of the afternoon. The Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout is 12.5%, just a .5% more than their regular Speedway Stout. It poured an eclipse black with some light cream. It smelled like bourbon, malt, espresso, but not too overwhelmingly bourbon. It tasted like toasted malts, bourbon, but no burn. It was incredibly smooth for 12.5% and seemed more like it was created using Irish whiskey barrels perhaps? You don't get much vanilla or coconut flavors out of it- just a hint. Seems reminiscent of the Deschuttes XXI. Overall, pretty tasty.

Next we went onto our 3 blue tickets which were vouchers for the less rare stuff. First up: Evil Dead Red Ale. This beer is an Imperial Red and 6.66%. It poured a beautiful deep copper red. It smelled like hops, grapefruit, citrus, and grass. It tasted very floral, citrus, with some sweet malt character. It was not that bitter- it was more malty than bitter. I enjoyed it while finally meeting a fellow female in the beer world- Gail Williams. She is Beer Judge as well as a fellow Bay Area Beer Blogger with her blog: She is also hosting her own SF Beer Week event for women this Saturday Feb 13 at Beer Revolution in Oakland from 2pm-5pm: 
A toast to Women in the Beer Community

It's always great to meet such fabulous women in this world of beer!

Next up: Yulesmith, which is an Imperial IPA and 8.5%. It wasn't that floral and I didn't get much nose out of it- a hint of hops. It tasted like citrus hops- it had a great bitterness to it and was a bit dry. It left a dry grapefruit skin bitterness on your tongue and throat. Someone next to me at the bar said it was reminiscent of a greyhound- in a good way. It was pretty drinkable.

After all of these, we didn't have another one we want to try besides the Barrel Aged Speedway Stout, but we had used up all of our tickets. Then Dave went up to the woman who was pouring and asked for the bourbon barrel aged version again, which she then poured for him and me out of the goodness of her heart- bless her soul. MMMmmmm bourbon coffee stout!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tucson Tastings

Here are some random tastings of beers that I consumed during my recent trip to Tucson:

1- Wild Raspberry Ale by Great Divide Brewing Co, Fruit Beer 5.6%
2- Ephemere by Unibroue, Fruit Beer 5.5%
3-Old Monkeyshine by Nimbus Brewing Co, English Strong Ale, 8.2%
4- Rillito Red Ale by Nimbus Brewing Co, Amber Ale 5%
5- Firestone Walker 13 by Firestone Walker, American Strong Ale 12%
6- Velvet Merkin Bourbon barrel aged version by Firestone Walker, Oatmeal Stout, 8%
7-Hopslam Ale by Bell's Brewing Co, Imperial IPA 10%
8- Dos Hermanos Dunkelweizen, Barrio Brewing Co, Dunkelweizen 6.6%
9-Scottish Red by Barrio Brewing Co, Scottish Red 5.8%

Wild Raspberry Ale- Served out of a bottle. It poured a clear deep pink reddish mahogany. It smelled like raspberries and sweet malts. It tasted lighter in raspberries as pronounced in the nose, light malts and a faint hoppiness seems to come out. It was very light and very session-able. It seems like it would be a great brew to enjoy on a hot summer day. 

Ephemere-Ale brewed with apple juice, coriander and curacao. Served out of a bottle. It poured a foggy golden yellow. It smelled of caramel green apples, vanilla and coriander. It tasted of a light crisp sour apple, yeast, milky with a light lingering spiciness on the tongue. The flavors seemed too fake tasting though for my own taste. It tasted a bit too much like a green apple jolly rancher. It was reminiscent of a wine cooler with a beer twist. Do they even make beer coolers? This would be a good example. Definitely not my taste and I won't be drinking this one again.

Old Monkeyshine- My sister had a bottle of this one in her fridge already and I was looking forward to drinking some local Tucson brewed beer from Nimbus Brewing Co. It poured a deep teak brown with a hint of red. It smelled like light vanilla, light roast and a bit caramel-y. It tasted light at first, then a nice roasted malt with bourbon notes come in and leave a little burn. Medium carbonation. Very drinkable. I was looking on their website and apparently they have a bourbon barrel aged version of this, at least at the brewery. I wish we had made it out to the Brewery as our visit to the Barrio Brewing Co seemed a bit wasted.

Rillito Red Ale- Had on draft. It pours a beautiful copper red with a hint of brown to it. It smelled like ripe cherries, caramel malts, cereal and some pine. It tasted a bit light, but with some molasses notes, grass, pine, cherries, and very malt driven. It seemed pretty interesting for a light beer. It had a good malt flavor with some hops to balance it out a bit. Very session-able if you are looking for something light with some flavor.

Firestone Walker 13- I made my sister and her husband go out to 1702 Pizza and Beer because the last time I was in Tucson, I heard they had Dogfish Head's 120 IPA on draft, so I was definitely not going to miss this bar this time. We weren't disappointed. We walked in and it happened to be Firestone Walker night. It was very crowded but we found a table right away and our server was totally on it and even brought us each a taste of the Firestone 13 for free. It was not the first time I have had this beer, but it was the first time I took notes on it. Had it on draft. It poured a deep eclipse black. It smelled like bourbon, light roasted vanilla malts and some toffee. It tasted light at first, then charred malts, vanilla, caramel, wood then the bourbon comes in and leaves a little burn. It seems very agable. Can't wait to try the 4 year vertical we have of this from 10-13.

Velvet Merkin Bourbon Barrel aged version- This just gets an A in my book for the fantastic name. I have had this one before as well, but any barrel aged version is always a nice surprise- especially on draft. It poured a deep black with some light oatmeal lacing. It smelled like bourbon, espresso, oats and malt. It tasted of bourbon, roasted espresso with a medium bitterness to it. The bitterness gets stronger and lingers on the tongue with some cereal and oats mixed with a bit of burn from the bourbon. The bourbon was there but wasn't very harsh, which is nice. It seemed very well balanced instead of being in your face bourbon.

Hopslam Ale- Dave and I were texting when I was at 1702 and he saw this one of their menu and told me to get it. I was not disappointed. I had it on draft and it poured a clear tangerine yellow. It smelled of grass, hops, citrus and sweet ripe grapefruit. Talk about a nose- I could smell this beer as our server was heading over to our table! It tasted sweet, some honey, citrus, grapefruit and it was definitely bitter. It reminded me of the bitterness off a grapefruit rind. This beer has the most grapefruit bitterness flavor from hops that I have ever tasted. It was quite amazing. I highly recommend this one!

Dos Hermanos Dunkelweizen- I made my sister leave 1702 because I wanted to check out Barrio Brewing Co. I checked their beers on their website and I was very excited to see a Bourbon Barrel aged beer on cask as well as a grapefruit blonde. When we got there, no such beers were on tap and the only 2 that looked decent were the Dunkelweizen and the Scottish Red. I also just realized that they say on their website: We have 10 to 12 of our own very special microbrews on tap (depending on season). We also offer Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and Ace Pair and Apple Jack Cider in bottles. All complemented by a full bar and RC Cola products. Wow, I have never seen a brewery not only offer crappy beer but advertise it on their website. Talk about not having faith in your product! Who would go to a Brewery and order a Michelob Ultra? What brewery would even offer such a thing. Oh and on top of this and not having the beer I went for in the first place, the bar tender took his sweet, sweet time in helping us, when the place was very empty and there wasn't anyone else ordering anything at the bar. Anyways, back to the Dunkel, which I had on tap. It smelled of sweet malts, vanilla and some toffee. It tasted sweet, a hint of sour, malt and very typically dunkel. It actually was pretty drinkable but I wish it was a bit more interesting.

Scottish Red- Had this one on draft. It poured a nice walnut brown with some reddish tones. It smelled like tobacco, hint of sweet malts, hint of exhaust and quite smoky. It tasted like sweet malts, a hint of cherry and definitely reminiscent of cherry cola. It was a bit more malty than I would have expected, but oddly enough I did like it. But I do have a thing for Cherry Cola.

All in all, I would definitely go to 1702 again, finally hit up Nimbus Brewing Co and skip Barrio Brewing (although it did have some cool looking brew kettles in the back).