Monday, November 3, 2008

Hoptoberfest in Review

By Jeff Barber, Pacific Brew News

Like a kid in a
candy store! That's the only way I can describe how I felt attending the Rubicon Brewing Hoptoberfest on Saturday where 21 IPAs were on tap. With me were my daughter and son-in-law, who as light drinkers would be in much better shape for the drive home to Roseville. Already at the event when we got there were PBN friends and hosts Mark, The Beer Geek, and Jeff Scammon, former owner of the Owl Club in Roseville and host of Wild West Radio.

Since Mark and Jeff were ahead of us in beer tasting when we got there, we quickly joined in. I ordered a taster tray of seven beers to get started. It was hard to choose so I started with a few reasonably lighter tasting beers and filled in the tray with beers I hadn't had before. I also have to say up front that Pliny the Elder was all ready out, much to my dismay.

The opening lineup, after brief deliberation, was as follows:
  • 21st Amendment Harvest Ale
  • Anchor Liberty Ale
  • Marin Brewing Mt Tam Pale Ale
  • Elk Grove Brewing Hop Head Red
  • Sacramento Brewing Imperial Red
  • Santa Cruz Aleworks Saison Dubois
  • Bear Republic Apex
This flight was followed by:
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration
  • Great Basing Ichtysaurus
First off, I'll just say we didn't have a bad beer all afternoon. Some were better than others and some fit their style better than others, but good beer as clearly in evidence. That said, my top ranking was:

#1- Bear Republic Apex IPA- WOW! This was outstanding. Strong dry hopped aroma (simcoe?), well-balanced, very creamy mouthfeel, good bitterness but not lingering. #1 for Mark and Jeff as well.

#2- 21st Amendment Fresh Hop Harvest - Noticeable piney hop aroma, flavor had some fruitness in it with some good malt backbone-could have had a few of these (my son in law's favorite), creamy

#3- Sacramento Brewing Imperial Red - Hops come out strong in the aroma, also well balanced, caramel sweetness in the initial flavor followed by the hop kick, some alcohol warmth as well (my daughter's favorite)

#4- Sierra Nevada Torpedo - Citrusy aroma, bready and caramel sweetness from malt balanced hop bitterness well but bitterness still was prominent, a hop milk shake!

Like I said earlier, all beers were good but to be honest I have to say that the one I didn't enjoy as much as the others was the Santa Cruz Saison Dubois. I love saisons but the level of hops didn't mesh well with the tart saison character and overpowered it a little. The Celebration and Icky both suffered from tired palate syndrome by the time I got to them. I have had both before and always enjoy them.

Kudos to the Rubicon for putting on a good event. It was well organized and by limiting everyone to 5-oz tasters, more beers were available later in the weekend (except for Pliny). Truly enjoyable!