I don't really know what our official role was in this, but last night we hung out at Vino's Wine & Cheese (Roseville, Ca) with a dozen of our closest friends to welcome the Deschutes 19th Anniversary Ale on tap. In fact, Sean and Toby of Vino's decided to make it a Deschutes night, where five bucks bought you samples of the Twilight, Mirror Pond, 19th Anniversary, Black Butte Porter and Obsidian Stout. Vino's is always a good thing on a Tuesday night.
The 19th was a good beer, a Belgian Golden with a high level of sweetness. Twighlight seemed to just be what I needed though - a wonderful seasonal offering. While there Deschutes was informed that they'd won first place at the California Brewers Festival (judging took place over the past weekend) for their Abyss Imperial Stout and third place for their 19th Anniversary beer. Congrats to the boys from Bend.
In addition to the tasting, I picked up a bottle of Vertical Epic to sample along with the 19 (both are Belgian inspired creations). I simply didn't care for the Epic - couldn't even finish it. How disappointing is that? I am hoping it was a bum bottle, but I got notes of old apples, sausage and smoke in this monster. None of those were what I was hoping for.
Another major disappointment was the slow realization that Hopsickle has indeed changed. Yes, it is still a good beer, but it just isn't the bright star it once was. No more fresh hop aroma, no crisp hop flavor up front - no more feeling like you are smelling a handful of fresh hops. More caramel, a longer lingering bitterness and generally more aggressive in the malt than it once was. I've waited for a while to post this in hopes my thoughts were incorrect, but alas I realize things have really changed.
On the other hand... Racer 5 kicked ass! Wow. I don't know if it was just super fresh or what, but the citrus in this was way more than I recalled from all my prior tastings of this already beautiful beer. May be an anomaly, but whatever it was, it worked.
Thanks to the guys at Vino's. Thanks to Max at Deschutes. Thanks to all who showed up and made it a great time.
Upcoming Vino's Events: (PBN will be podcasting for these events)
Anderson Valley Night, August 21st.
Avery Night, Sept 4th (check back on this date)