Friday, May 29, 2009

Rubicon Brewing's Maibock Festival 5/23

Written by Jeff Barber

I had the opportunity to join the Beer Geek last Saturday for a visit to Rubicon Brewing in Sacramento for their annual Maibock Festival. Although not as many choices were available as last fall's IPA Festival and there were some bocks and doppelbocks mixed in, there were some very good beers to enjoy. The Beer Geek, having lived in Germany for several years, is very familiar with how a true Maibock should taste so tasting these beers with him made it even more enjoyable.

5 oz tastes of each beer could be tasted for $1.25 each and there were 8 beers available to try. After organizing our plan of attack, we moved quickly on to our Maibock adventure!

First off, was the Sierra Nevada Pale Bock. Not truly a Maibock, this beer had a lingering hop taste as well as sweetness and a slight alcohol burn. Thin for a bock, it was enjoyable but not a favorite. Next we tried the Mendocino Bock. Again not a Maibock but this beer had sweetness up front with some noticeable hop presence that didn’t linger. We also noticed a slight fruitiness as well. Very tasty.

Our third beer was also our first Maibock. Schooner Maibock, out of Antioch, CA, had a peppery character to it and was a little hoppier and had a little too much alcohol taste for a classic Maibock. Decent but not great. Following this was the Sudwerks Maibock from Davis, CA. Sudwerks has a reputation of doing German beer styles very well and their Maibock was no exception. Sweetness up front, only moderately hopped to balance the sweetness, this was a very good Maibock. True to style. Following Sudwerks, we tried the Great Basin Rock Maibock from Reno, NV. This was a little on the thin side but still tasty. It had a little less sweetness than the others and was slightly bitter in the finish. A little on the dry side too. After the Great Basin we moved on to Rubicon's Purple Maibock.This was sweet up front and slightly bitter in the finish. It was very creamy and the 6.8% ABV was well hidden. A fruity note was tasted as well. This was very good.

That was it for the Maibocks but two beers remained. The next beer we tried was the Anchor Brewing Bock. Dark in color with a burnt caramel aroma and a strong caramel taste, this was an excellent beer. Very enjoyable. Our final beer was the Weihenstephaner Doppelbock from Germany. This had a great caramel malt aroma and a tangy, tart taste from the yeast. Slightly bitter in the finish, there was some great lacing that lingered on the glass as we savored this classic beer.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed this event and look forward to it again next year. Rating the Maibocks only, by top beers were Rubicon and Sudwerks. If I rated all the beers together, I'd have to go with Weihenstephaner, Anchor, Rubicon, Sudwerks, and Mendocino.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rick Rocks

OK dammit....sure I know I might be a bit inebriated ....but that's not really the point here ...The point of these words is my good buddy Rick. As a number of you already know he brewed a beer in Chico at Sierra Nevada Brewing several many weeks ago ...not just any old beer...but a brew worthy of all us beer types. (He wrote a beautiful piece on the process for Draft Magazine)
This evening at the ever-lovin Owl Club Rick's brew was offered up for the Pint Nite special under the very interesting and somewhat thought provoking name of IDEA!!
Rick (and perhaps others) will be somewhat annoyed that in a nut shell I would refer to this concoction as basically a very hopped up Porter; BUT... honestly it is much more than that... with IPA, Stout AND Porter characteristics it came on as a beer that defies categorisation.... which ultimately may be the coolest thing of all........
So ya...I'll shut up now.....or almost ....just go seek it out (I hear they have it in Virginia!) and let us know what you think ....because as you all must be expecting at this point....It doesn't suck.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Belgian Beer Tasting & Dinner at BJ's in Roseville June 2nd

Written by Jeff Barber

Don’t think there are enough special beer events in Roseville? Well on June 2nd, BJ's Brewhouse will be holding a Belgian Beer Tasting & Dinner. If this is anything like the Winter Beer Dinner, they had it will be an event worth attending. For only $30, you get a 5 course dinner paired with the following beers.

Brugse Zot (Brouwerij de Halve Maan)
Nit Wit (BJ's)
Monk's Café Flemish Sour (Brouwerij Van Steenberge)
Petrus Aged Pale (Brouwerij Bavik)
Popperings Homel (Brouwerij Van Eecke)
Gulden Draak (Brouwerij Van Steenberge)
Troubador Obscura (Brouwerij de Musketiers)

Should be a good event. Let's get out and support this effort!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

West Coast Brewfest (review #2)

Posted by the Beer Geek

Well folks, here’s my quick review of this year’s West Coast Brewfest… the bottom line: a fun brewfest with lots of great beer. Yup, it was hot again (pushing 100 - we always seem to get a hot day for this event), but Sacramento’s Miller Park has plenty of shade, so it was doable. Seemed to be a few less breweries this year and another big crowd, so some of the lines were a bit long – but the folks pouring worked as quickly as they could and did a good job.

The great thing about beer festivals is being able to roam around and try beer you might not find in your area or might find only occasionally. So roam around I did… the BOS beer for me was Red Chair IPA from Deschutes… truly a delicious beer. Seemed like a ramped up Hop Trip – great aroma, full bodied, superbly balanced – a wonderfully “soft” IPA. This beer turned a lot of people - who thought they weren’t IPA drinkers - into IPA drinkers!

North Coast had their Le Merle Saison and Old Rasputin (on nitro) – both were superb; the Rasputin was very smooth and creamy – hard to believe it’s an imperial stout with such a high ABV.

Jever made its first appearance – a crisp, dry, hoppy pilsner that IPA drinkers might enjoy when they need something light and refreshing. Nice bitterness – typical northern German pils.

I also enjoyed Sudwerk’s Maibock (dang, I missed Great Basin’s Maibock – I hope they’ll be at the Rubicon Maibock festival next weekend), and when I needed to cool down with something light, Pyramid Curveball, Kona Longboard, and Lost Coast Great White all hit the spot nicely.

As Jeff mentioned, Sac Brew had a unique Belgian Quad (aged in port barrels) which was quite interesting indeed… we’ll have to keep an eye out to see if any becomes available at the brewery anytime soon.

As always, there were styles to make everyone’s palate happy. As usual, I’d concentrate on a particular style and go from tent to tent for head-to-head comparisons. I started with wit beer, then started climbing the ladder of hops and malt until I arrived at the strong ales. Every comparison was interesting. By the end of the day, I do have to admit going back to the Red Chair IPA a few times… this brew was recommended by The Hop Hunter, Big Mike, himself, after one of his recent fact-finding missions to Oregon – great recommendation - what a beer!

Finally, I also had a chance to chat with some of the other festival-goers and was surprised to hear that people were visiting from other parts of California as well as from out-of-State. I spoke with beer lovers from as far away as Oklahoma and Minnesota – comparing notes with them was a lot of fun.

Hope to see everyone at the next brewfest!


The Beer Geek

Monday, May 18, 2009

West Coast Brewfest

Written by Jeff Barber

West Coast Brewfest – Miller Park – May 16

Last Saturday was the West Coast Brewfest at Miller Park in Sacramento and I felt like I was having some sort of déjà vu experience compared to last year. Great beer but way too hot and way too crowded to be truly enjoyable. They’ve had truly bad luck with the weather the last two years as both days have been over 100 degrees but the organizers need to do something with the layout, or limit the number of people, to make this an enjoyable event. Lines, even for some of the lesser known breweries were often 6-8 people long, or longer.

Heat and crowds aside though, on to the beer. Given the high temperature I planned to focus on some the the lighter, summer weather beers so I never tried any of the stouts, etc., that were being poured. I did taste some excellent beers however. I truly didn’t have a bad beer all day. Some were better than others but none were bad. I also was limited to about two hours as my other responsibility as a dad required me to be at home for my daughter’s 12th birthday party later in the afternoon.

My BOS for the day had to be the Whoop Ass Wit from Great Basin Brewing. Matt, the brewer at Great Basin, said they were trying for a classic wit and didn’t add any additional spices like seeds of paradise, etc. He did a great job with this wit though as you could clearly taste the spice from the coriander as well as the citrusy orange taste. He also said that the most difficult job in making this beer was zesting all the oranges they used since they went with fresh orange rather than dried orange peel, etc. It was worth it Matt. Great job!

Honorable mention went to Sam Adams for their Imperial White, a beer that had both a Belgian dubble or tripel character to it, as well as the spicy wit character. At 10.3% ABV, definitely not a session beer.

My other honorable mentions had to go to Blue Frog (Fairfield) for their Frog in the Rye which had an excellent spiciness and full body from the rye, and Deschutes (Bend, Ore) for their Red Chair IPA, which had lots of hops in the aroma and initial taste but carried enough malt to make it well balance and drinkable.

Other beers I tried were as follows:

Alaskan White-very refreshing and clean but not much spice

Lost Coast Great White-again very refreshing but not much expected spice notes

North Coast LeMerle-very tart and an excellent example of a saison. Great summer beer.

Coney Island Albino Python-a spiced white lager, this had noticeable spice but a very dry finish

Great Basin Rock MaiBock-sweet maltiness with a definite hoppy finish. Very good.

One regret was that I missed Peter Hoey from Sacramento Brewing’s Belgian Quad. It was poured during the early VIP hour and I missed it. I heard it was outstanding however. Another regret was that by all time favorite Hefeweizen, from Blue Frog, wasn;t being poured. Typically a medal winner, it didn’t win this time. I’ll have to go to BevMo to stock up.

Again this has the possibility of being a great event. With less people or a more spread out layout, and less heat, this event could be memorable.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Posted by The Hop Hunter

Just in - the 2009 West Coast Beer Fest results. The event is next Saturday, 5/16 at Miller Park in Sacramento.

1. Light Lager
1st - Blue Paddle, New Belgium
2nd - Longboard, Kona
3rd - Double Aught, Bear Republic

2. Dark Lager
1st - Oktoberfest, Sam Adams
2nd - Longshot Bock, Sam Adams
3rd - Double Bock, Sam Adams

3. Amber Ale
1st - Irish Red, Sam Adams
2nd - Red Rocket, Bear Republic
3rd - Green Lakes, Deschutes

4. Light Ale
1st - Cascade, Deschutes
2nd - Hefeweizen, Widmer
3rd - Curveball, Pyramid

5. American Pale Ale
1st - California Pale, Firestone Walker
2nd - Mighty Arrow, New Belgium
3rd - XP Pale, Bear Republic

6. English Pale Ale
1st - Double Barrel, Firestone Walker
2nd - Best Bitter, River City
3rd - English Pale, Sam Adams

7. India Pale Ale
1st - Racer X, Bear Republic
2nd - Racer 5, Bear Republic
3rd - Union Jack, Firestone Walker

8. Brown Ale
1st - Downtown Brown, Lost Coast
2nd - Brown Ale, Sam Adams
3rd - Peters Tribute Brown, Bear Republic

9. Porter
1st - Smoked Porter, Alaskan
2nd - Pugsley’s Imperial, Shipyard
3rd - Black Butte, Deschutes

10. Stout
1st - Obsidian, Deschutes
2nd - Double Chocolate, Wells & Young
3rd - Big Bear, Bear Republic

11. Wheat
1st - White, Allagash
2nd - Mothership Wit, New Belgium
3rd - White, Alaskan

12. Fruit Beer
1st - Raspberry Brown, Lost Coast
2nd - Orange Blossom, Buck Bean
3rd - Cranberry Wit, Sam Adams

13. Strong Ale
1st - Abyss, Deschutes
2nd - Barley Wine, Alaskan
3rd - Scotch Ale, Sam Adams

14. Mixed
1st - Summer Ale, Alaskan
2nd - Boston Ale, Sam Adams
3rd - Alaskan Amber, Alaskan

15. Belgian Ales
1st - Dissident, Deschutes
2nd - Abby, New Belgium
3rd - Tripel, New Belgium

16. Cider
1st - Pear Cider, Fox Barrel
2nd - Mulled, Fox Barrel
3rd - Gravenstein, Two Rivers

17. Other
1st - Albino Python, Shmaltz
2nd - Green Citrus, Sam Adams
3rd - Backyard Batch, Sam Adams

18. Imports
1st - Wee Heavy, Belhaven
2nd - Barbar, Lefebvre
3rd - Mahleur 12, De Landtsheer