On Brewing, Beer as Cuisine and the Appreciation of Real Beer
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Hardest Liver To Liver
3/21: Hard Liver Barley Wine Festival at Brouwer's Cafe. Got to sit at the Best of Show table this year. Great time! Finally got to sit at the table with the adults; a couple of high profile beer writers, the owner of a well known Philadelphia Belgian-style cafe, a couple of the organizer's cronies, a BJCP Master Judge, and me. A couple of photos here, scroll down a bit for the group shot. I'm in the upper left looking red faced and sassy under the flat cap. Interesting process; the wood aged beers were dismissed out of hand, the good hop forward beer didn't seem to get much respect, and I wasn't finding much depth of complexity in many of the beers where some other judges were. Did the usual "Brouwer's Cafe/Hard Liver Find a Place to Sit Boogaloo" afterwards. My sweetie showed up and I pulled some strings to get her in ahead of a bunch of people who had been waiting in line awhile. Very Rock Star, ha, HA! We went through a good 18 or so. Overall quality this year was really good (even the Redhook BW was impressive). Standouts were the '07 Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws and the '06/'08 Lagunitas Gnarleywine. Doggie Claws; real firm sweetroll malt flavors with moderate bitterness and big resinous hop flavors (still!). Really good stuff. 'Claws always makes me think of shopping for Christmas trees with it's piney/minty resin-like qualities. Gnarleywines were both big and alcoholic; all the best qualities of Barley Wine right up front. The '06 seemed just a bit more refined. These things age really well. Comparing the beers on the Best of Show panel against what we were having at table was a bit of a head scratcher. I liked some of the beers we had better than what we had to judge. Even on strict style considerations. Oh well.