Tuesday, May 22, 2007

West Coast Beer Festival 2007

Written By Jeff Barber, PBN Staff

The first stop, since we wanted to start light, it was the first tent, and they had the gold medal American Pale Ale, was Kona Brewing for their Fire Rock Pale Ale. While good, it lacked the hop character that you would expect from an American Pale Ale, especially for the gold medal winner. Next up was Full Sail Session. I’d heard Rick rave about this beer as an easy drinking light lager and I wasn’t disappointed. Noticed a slight sweetness in the flavor. Very drinkable. Next we went to Schooner’s for their pale ale. Jose had grabbed one in his haul after judging and said it was really good. Compared to the Kona, it was much better. Not sure why it didn’t finish in the top 3. More hops than Kona in both aroma and flavor. Still easy drinking too.

Next up was our first WOW beer. As most of you know, I’m a big wheat beer fan. I would have to say the Blue Frog Hefeweizen is now one of my favorites. Prominent banana and spice in the aroma that promises a great German hefeweizen flavor. The flavor had some orange in it as well as the banana, excellent body, and a nice full head. Great summer beer. I’ll look for this one. Talked to Nick, the head brewer, who also told us he was pouring a bottle conditioned DIPA. Since it was still early, we figured we’d come back for that. Nick was very appreciative of past pub he’s gotten on Pacific Brew News.com and offered to send us some beer to put on one of the tasting shows. I will follow up with him on that.

After this, it was two pilsners. First was the gold medal winning Radeberger Pils. This was very good with a prominent spicy hop aroma and some noticeable bitterness in the taste. Deserving of its’ award. After this we tried the Trumer Pils since it is well known as a good pilsner as well. While it was quite good, it had less aroma and less hop bitterness. Joerg, our German Pils fan, agreed that the Radeberger was better.

Next we finally moved on to IPA’s. We started with the Deschutes Inversion which we obviously knew from past experience to be good. It should also be noted that the Deschutes had the longest line most of the time (only beaten by the longer food lines). Grassy hop aroma followed by the expected piney hop flavor. Excellent. After this it was the Sequoia brewing General Sherman IPA. This was also quite good with a little more noticeable malt. For those, who prefer a little more balanced IPA this was a great choice. Jose picked this one over the Inversion.

At this point, we took a break to enjoy the sights and have some lunch. Lisa from Beermann’s provided us with some great sausages from the trunk of her car that really hit the spot. We hung out with her and Starlight for awhile getting ready for more beer, while drinking a Beermann’s Maibock (quite good as well). I will say, while there were some excellent sights, i.e., females, I think I was more focused on the beer. I must be getting old.

Starting back with the beer adventure, we went back to Blue Frog for their bottle conditioned DIPA. This was outstanding. Very well balanced for such a big beer with some slight alcohol (about 8% ABV). The bottle conditioning also gave it great body. Very hoppy but with enough malt backbone. Excellent beer!

After this, it was off to Lodi Beer Company's for a couple of their beers. First up was the Harvest IPA. While good, it had a touch of sweetness and not enough hop character for an IPA. The other beer we tried was great however. Even though our palates might have been challenged at this point, we wanted to try the Orange Blossom Wheat. This was a great citrusy wheat beer with a noticeable orange aroma. Cloudy. Slight wheat beer “tang” noticed. I could definitely drink a few of these on a hot summer day.

Next was another Blue Frog DIPA, my only duplicate, while waiting for the 3:30 tasting of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. As I said before, a great DIPA. The Bigfoot was great as usual. A big beer in all the best ways.

At this point, my notes start to get much harder to read. I know we had the Placerville Brewing's Strong Blonde and enjoyed it. We may even of had some more that I didn’t write down.

All in all it was a great day though. Miller Park is a great location. We never had to wait very long for a beer. We missed a lot of good breweries though. There’s only so much you can do on a day like this, Still I would have liked to hit Rogue, Sudwerks, Allagash, etc. I also noticed that a couple of favorites from past brewfests were not in attendance. Bison Brewing, past brewers of the unique Honey Basil Ale and a great Belgian Strong Ale, were not there. I guess now that Peter Hoey has moved to Sac Brewing they don’t do brewfests. Also, Etna Brewing was nowhere to be found. Both were missed.

By the way, the girl in the white dress and platform sandals I mentioned earlier was seen pouring beer in one of the tents. When we walked back to the car to meet Katherine, our ride home, we saw the same girl being propped up by her boy friend who was desperately trying to get her to the car. She could barely walk and undoubtedly was going to either pass out (if she was lucky) or be “selling buicks” in a short amount of time. Walking in 3 or 4” platforms while absolutely smashed-now that’s a challenge.

Lastly, my best of show beers were the following.
  1. Blue Frog DIPA
  2. Blue Frog Hefewiezen
  3. Radeberger Pils and Lodi Orange Blossom Wheat (tie)

We are lucky to live somewhere that holds events like this. I can hardly wait for the California Brewfest in September.

- Jeff