By Mike Sober (AKA The HopHunter)
For the better part of the last decade The Bistro in Old Town Hayward California has been THE place for hop lovers to congregate on the first Saturday of every February. This years 9th Annual Double IPA Festival was the biggest and best ever and one can only imagine how next years version can hope to top it. But I'm getting ahead of myself......something very easy to do at an epic event of this scale.
The inaugural Double IPA fest in 2001 featured barely a dozen total entries and was held indoors in the Bistro's everyday bar area. This years extravaganza completely shut down the street South of the bar and included no less than 46 double IPA's.
As per tradition at this world class kickoff to San Francisco Beer Week all the beers are judged prior to the noon start and the winners announced half way through at 4:00pm or so.
When you sign up and pay for your taster glass and drink coupons you also get a double sided 8-1/2"x11" printout with every Brewery/Beer/Location/Brewer/ABV and IBU's listed in alphabetical order.
Every year I take notes, chart and evaluate all the beers I tried and in what order I drank them.....and every year I look back on it and marvel at how selective I had to be in my choices and how small a dent I put in the total.
This year I sampled 24 brews, a couple of them twice....which barely covers half of the field. These my friends are just some big ass beers.
I had my own favorites of course but ...... The official winners for 2009 were
GOLD - Pizza Port "Poormans IPA" - Carlsbad CA
SILVER - Triple Rock "IIMAXX Imperial IPA" - Berkeley CA
BRONZE - Bear Republic "Apex" - Healdsburg CA (A repeat medalist)
PEOPLES CHOICE - Russian River "Pliny the Younger" - Santa Rosa CA (For the second consecutive year)
My personal favorites included (in alphabetical order)
Auburn Ale House "Isotope PU240" - Auburn CA
Beach Chalet "The Baron" - San Francisco CA
Big Dogs "Hop Harvest Ale" - Las Vegas NV
Fifty/Fifty "Landslide" - Truckee, CA
Lagunitas "Hop Stoopid" - Petaluma CA
Pizza Port "Lou P Lin" - Solano Beach CA
Rogue "XSIPA" - Newport OR
Rubicon "REX IPA" - Sacramento CA
Seabright "Hopnoxious" - Santa Cruz CA
Sierra Nevada "Hop Secret 393" - Chico CA
Stone "Sublimely Self Righteous Ale" - Escondido CA
I suppose not mentioning Hopsickle, Hop 15, Torpedo,White Knuckle, Pliny the Elder,Double Daddy, Ruination, Double Trouble, Pure Hoppiness, Mach 10, 90 & 120 minute IPA, Denogginizer, Double Dog, Imperial IPA, Casey Jones Double, Quasar, Promised Land, Ale to the Chief,The Big DIPA, Steelhead Double, Moylander, Gordon, Hop Henge Experimental,Jersey Giant, Firkin Chico, and Bittersweet Lanny's RIPA would seem a bit of an oversight.....but nothing could be further from the truth........well maybe something could be further from the truth...like telling you I could drive home after all those beers. They tell me I had a good time and I know they're correct. I absolutely cannot wait for the first weekend of February in 2010.
Check out a few photos and judge for yourself......