On Brewing, Beer as Cuisine and the Appreciation of Real Beer
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Sweet Home Toronado
Choogled down to Frisco for a long weekend and the Toronado Barley Wine Festival. Flew out the Thurs. night and man I was pissed. Air travel in Post-9/11 Soviet America sucks. And motherfuck the TSA. That's all I got to say about that. Missed out on an early start time on Saturday for the BW Fest (too much carrying on the night before). Wink, wink. Strolled in later in the evening to a relatively light crowd. The 2004 "Big Nugget" from Alaskan Brewing was already up on the 86'd sheet, came to find out that it took a first in judging. Figures. Also missed out on the Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Drakes. Must've gone while we were getting our accomodations squared away. That left only 52 Barley Wines to hunker down to. We sat down to the first half of the list. 2005 Hair of the Dog "Doggie Claws" stood out; a hazy pale orange-amber, very aromatic (fruit, toast, some alcohol, flowers and resin), medium-full body, very firm on the palate, very firm/forward bitterness and a deep resinous finish. The Best. Had the "Angel's Share" from the new Port Brewing Trappist-Style outfit, Lost Abbey; an intense and deeply flavorful interpretation of a Trappist 12, think St. Bernardus with rum flamed Bananas Foster. Very slightly too full bodied yet otherwise heavenly. Enjoyed J.W. Lees Harvest Ale; brilliant, ruby red, very leggy, intense aromatics (rum, raisins, chocolate, dried black currants) and great depth of flavor. I imagine an all pale grain bill with a real long boil to develop the intense color and flavors. Enough for the evening. Back to the apartment and sweet dreams. Early afternoon on Sunday, back up to the Toronado for the second half. Now at this point the 86'd sheet had quite a few more dead soldiers posted. Missed out on a couple that I was curious about (but weren't being served the previous evening); 2005 Southampton "Old Herb", Midnight Sun oak aged "Sun Devil" and Dogfish Head "Old School Ale". Not too put off by missing the Midnight Sun, should be able to pick that up later at the Hard Liver. Would have liked to check out the Dogfish Head. Not a fan of Dogfish Head but I will sample their beers just to keep up. 2007 "Big Woody" from Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage was worthy; big, flavorful West Coast-Style aged in French oak. Firm, chewy yet elegant and pleasantly warming. I'll put off a complete posting of tasting notes for another time. These were all the 2-plus beers off my notes. Overall the quality of flavor and condition was a bit rough. Most of the younger beers were a bit green or had some defect; thin bodied and solventy being a common theme. Most of the older beers seemed to have lost a little somethin'-somethin'; stale. Good times.