Friday, February 01, 2008

Through the Tasting Glass

1/26, Water Street Brewing' s Strange Brewfest 2008: Rolled up to Port Townsend on Friday night and checked into the Palace. Great old Victorian building. Bite to eat and over to the Water Street for a quick one before an early bedtime. Hassled the dude at the door and got in with paying just one cover. Thank you. Recognized a few folks on the way in, some familiar East Sound faces in town for the Festival too. Jar of the Imperial IPA for me and a fresh lime Margarita for J. I like beer with a bit of an edge to it; the IPA is firm bodied, pleasant tea biscuit malt sweetness, slightly coarse bitterness, grapefruit pith and resinous spruce hop flavors with ethanol apparent. Reminds me a bit of the first iterations of the Pike IPA; firm biscuity sweet Marris Otter, moderate bitterness accented by judicious addition of brewing salts, huge sweet fresh cut grass and herbal tea East Kent Golding aroma and flavor with a strong ethanol character. Almost fusel. Dryhopped in the Cask and served off a handpump. Excellent glass of beer. Oh, and the Margaritas are fantastic at the Water Street; fresh fruit squeezed at the bar is the best. Offered another round and I got a Barley Wine. Way deep mahogany with bright ruby highlights, very aromatic; lots of dark dried fruit, hops and sweet alcohol, rasiny dark toffee malt flavor, firm bitterness with lemon peel/black pepper flavors, medium-full body with a long warming finish. Perfect nightcap.

Up at the crack of 11. Off to breakfast and over to the Water Street for the starting gun promply at 1. Good crowd this year. Our usual beerfest cronies; some folks from the clubs, people we know in the Industry, well respected beer dorks and about 150 Elkheads (like the whole town of Buckley showed up to support the brewer). Wide range of beers; many regular offerings, some wood finished beers, some perennial Strange Brew offerings and a few that appeared to be regular offerings tarted up to show well at the festival. Silver City Basil infused Pilsner. Egad! Dr. Johns Spearmint Vanilla Porter anyone? Actually not bad at all, like a chocolatey sasparilla soda. I Liked the Baron Barrel Aged Liberator Dopplebock; deep ruby brown, rich and elegant malt flavors with maple notes from the wood, lightly warming. Excellent example of using wood finishing to add depth and complexity instead of just "wood flavoring". The Maker's Mark Barrel Aged Sleigher from the Ram Northgate on Nitro, was fantastic; toffee malt flavors, forward bitterness, rich vanilla bourbon flavors accented by the creamy Nitro service. Whiskey Barrel Aged Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada; another great glass of beer, my favorite Barley Wine given greater depth and character by wood aging. Got sips of most of the rest of the field. Wasn't really feeling most of the beers on tap. Settled for a few rounds of the above beers, the Boundry Bay Imperial IPA, the Rogue Issaquah Imperial Red and the Big Time Maine Thing East Coast-Style Pale Ale. Cut out for a dinner break. And back to the Water Street for some music. Same great funk band as last year. Stood in line for service for their first set (an hour). Hooked down our drinks facing an empty stage and called it a night.

No comments: