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