Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What A Long Strange Brewfest It's Been

We did the Strange Brewfest up at the Waterstreet in Port Townsend. Those kids throw a killer party. Many good beers on hand. Made the most of the Big Time Lift Ticket and Rogue Charlie that was available. Great stuff. Sierra Nevada had their Tripel; pale gold with a tint of deeper orange-red, light medium body, aromatic (apricot bars and hops), well conditioned (for keg beer), very good. Elliot Bay had a Belgian-style IPA; think Chouffe Houblon and you're pretty close, cloudy pale straw, light bodied, very firm bitterness, very lively on the palate, very good. This is the one to chase down the Brouwers rib-eye with. Diamond Knot had a tank of wood aged Industrial Ho! Ho!; well appointed Strong Winter ale aged on oak, not so much a bourboned beer but very well wooded, probably the best local beer from the wood I've had since wood aging has become fashionable. Walkingman had a Sour Brown; interesting attempt, lacked the depth of acid and residual sweetness that I would expect (pretty heavily lactic and drying), missing a solid fruity/balsamic middle palate. Leonard from the Ram had his Bretted Saison on hand; much more character than at the previous Cask Fest, not so much funk but nice lemon juicy notes. Baron Jeff brought their Jim Beam barreled Dopplebock; to my recollection the Baron Dopple is close to the Optimator, maybe very sl. paler and drier/nuttier, out of the whiskey barrel it seemed thinned a bit and very boozy (though the vanilla complimented veeery nicely). The perfect accompaniment to a sweet creme brullee. Turns out that Jeff is the WBG president this term, passed on some of my ideas about the festival trip (check out the previous Cask Fest rant). Pike 5X Stout with raspberry was very nearly perfect; their already amazing stout with deep, deep, deep raspberry flavor, like an intense bitter chocolate/rasp truffle. Put down a fair amount of the Waterstreet Frosty; a winter seasonal, deep brown, medium full body, chocolate graham crackers and citrus/resin hops. Almost a house character at Waterstreet is that sharp herbal resin hop flavor that Skip seems to favor (Simcoe?), most notably in the IPA and Red Imperials. Other selections of note; Snoqualmie dry hopped Avalanche and the Lazy Boy winter seasonal, Mistletoe Bliss. Both very firmly in the style of West Coast Strong Winter ales; very firm bitterness, citrusy hop character (juicy lemon rind, orange marmalade and grapefruit jellies), very firm malt character (tea biscuits and sweet rolls) with a fair kick. Also put down a fair amount of oysters off the half shell. One indicator of an undoubtedly civilized affair is the presence of a well stocked oyster bar. Indeed. Good time, got to catch up with a lot of familiar festival cronies. Cut out for dinner over at Sirens and back to the Waterstreet for music. The hands down best local funk band I ever seen, La Push from Bellingham, solidly rocked the place. Great Bootsy era JBs inspired dance music, horns and a water tight rhythm section. Awesome.

Off to SF for our annual Toronado-ing this weekend. Belgium's been pushed back to June. Irish Dry Stout soon.

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