Feb 24 2008
A little bit of a belated post, for many have already covered these two fine Bay Area beer events, and who won the awards, etc.; What’s on Tap and Brookston Beer Bulletin to name a few. Just wanted to recored my impressions, this was the first year I managed to get myself to both the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival and the Toronado’s Barleywine Festival. I have to say to any none Bay Area beer appreciators out there who may be thinking about making a visit to our region. Mid-February is the time to do so. There are simply a stunning amount of beer events this time of year. All highlighting the superb quality of of our local (and in some cases not so local) brewers.
Both events happened to luck out with fantastic weather, a real gamble this time of year. At the Bistro in Hayward could have almost worn shorts, but got pretty cool in the evening. This was a great event, spilling out onto the sidewalk / beer garden surrounding the Bistro. Even with the large crowd, accessing the taps was not a big deal. Admittedly I find it a bit tough to remain objective about tasting after my fifth or sixth (maybe even less) glass. There did not seem to be a dud in the bunch.
Of note for me was my first sample of Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger. This beer really pretty much defies classification. It is by far the hoppest I have tasted, and some how remains a drinkable beverage. I don’t know how he does it. One to think about. I seem to remember reading some where Vinnie does three or four separate dry hop additions for Pliny the Elder. The concept of multiple dry hop additions seems pretty radical to me. How many for the Younger, six or eight? (edit: R. R.’s website says that Younger undergoes four dry hop additions.)
Several brewers from many of the local breweries were in attendance, and I also ran into many homebrewers. A great atmosphere and a great festival, tasting the top tier of microbrewing craft with a great crowd. Some good exchange of ideas and just general good natured fun. Also, was directed to Val’s for a post festival hamburger. Excellent!
The following Saturday was the opening of the (dare say) legendary Toronado Barleywine Festival. I have made it to this event several years in a row now. In contrast to the Bistro event a bit more crowded. For the Lower Height location of the Toronado does not really afford them any room on the sidewalk outside. The same rule applies here, in so much as I find it hard to be objective after only a few samples. But, will remark that there seemed to be a very wide array of differing flavors and interpretations of the barelywine style this year. Oaked, bourbon, brandy, and many even with considerable hop character to them. One of my festival going companions remarked that they really enjoy these two events, for we are tasting the styles of beer that really highlight the brewer’s art. Agreed.