I had some great beer this weekend, but there was some beer remorse, too: I couldn't make it happen to get to Drake's birthday party. That brewery, not the artist, has been around, amazingly, for 27 years, and I'm sure the beer was amazing. But it was going to be strong, and long, and I couldn't get a driver or a hall pass in order to get the friction on.
I'll miss the beers, but not only the Drake's beers. Because one of the most amazing things about Drake's is actually how it's spawned so much of what is happening around it. Your favorite bay area brewer probably brewed there. Check out the alumni that came home to pour at the event:
- Collin McDonnell, Henhouse – Saison 5.5%
- Jeff Kimpe, Triple Rock – Francis, Belgo American style Pale Ale 6%
- Rodger Davis, Faction – The Penske File, Strong Pale Ale 5.8%
- Alexandra Nowell, Three Weavers – Knotty, DIPA 8.5%
- Roger Lind, Schubros – Ship to Shore BB4 IPA 6.4%
- Cortlandt Toczylowski, Barebottle – Thickets & Wickets, English Summer Ale 4.6%
- Jesse Houck, Maui Brewing – Coconut Porter 6%
- Melissa Myers (Former Drake’s Brewer, current owner of the Good Hop, collaboration beer w/ Iron Springs), Midnight Kolsch, Black Kolsch 4.5%
As a finishing school, it doesnt get much better than Drake's. And oh yeah 1500, Aroma Coma Red and White, and some of their sours belong on any Best Of list.
Bayerische Banhof Berliner Weisse
Half Acre Vallejo IPA
The Bruery Terreux Frucht: Blueberry Berliner Weisse
Modern Times Protocosmos IPA
Damn that Vallejo was baller. Maybe the beer of the weekend, it featured a really interesting combo of bright stone fruit smell, citrus bitter bite, and smooth velvet mouthfeel. It's not a grassy NEIPA, because it didn't really have that same mouthfeel, but there was something really nice about the middle before the bitter bite. Not to say this was a thick mouthfeel beer, that's not quite it. I might describe it as slightly creamy feeling in the middle. Which is super interesting to pair with a tropical nose and a citrus finish. Recommended.
It's funny. Earlier in the day, I had a German Weisse to check myself. Wanted to see if the style truly was as sour as the Americans have been making it. If my selection was indicative of what's happening in Germany, they're doing it as just as sour. The Bayerische Banhof was more honey-like on the mouthfeel, and a little thicker maybe, but it finished just as tart as The Bruery's version. Of course, The Bruery's Blueberry had some berry taste, but it also had another little something. Maybe the wheat? I almost felt there was an herbal touch to it. Decent beer, but I would have said before that it was more sour than a typical Berliner Weisse.
The Protocosmos was the rare miss from Modern Times. A few rating sites give it a near 100, but I'll take our rating, which has it as MT's 18th-best beer and 7% better than the average IPA. I might even ding it more. I got the tropical thing, but it was super bitter. Mostly I got bitter. Without a real other thing that I could report back on. Just... bitter.
Alvarado Street Tumeke Pils
Fieldwork Brewing Hazy Train IPA
Altamont Maui Waui IPA
AleSmith Speedway Stout
Go drink some Alvarado. This beer smelled like it was going to be an Easy Jack, a session pale with a tropical nose punch. But then it settled into a more typical American style hoppy pils. In fact, if you wanted to really give this beer some dap, you'd say it smelled like Easy Jack and tasted like Pivo Pils. That's high praise right there.
Fieldwork did a good job with the Hazy Train. I enjoyed it very much. It was interesting to hear the bartender recommend Maui Waui more highly -- he felt that it was just very well executed, that the mosaic and citra worked well together, and I don't disagree. But the Hazy Train was brighter, I felt, and I value brightness.
Just a couple hours of friends sharing good beers at City Beer Store. I split the Speedway 50/50 just to have some, but it was the gueuze that I was most excited for. I love that beer, and it doesn't cost as much as you'd expect for an imported sour. The best thing about it is the butter/thick mouthfeel that comes before a resonable sour that's neither too mild and old-school nor too enamel-stripping and new-school.
Drai Laag Haviken Brett Dubbel
East End Big Hop IPA
Troegs Hop Knife IPA
Schlafly Double Bean Blonde
I don't love Dubbels but this Haviken was a brett with a bit of tartness, on its way to an Oud Bruin but not quite there. Tasted like a tart brown, kind of. That's super interesting because it's not too sweet and cloying like many Dubbels are for me. Was very drinkable and I look forward to the other Drai Laag. Pittsburgh!
The East End had a nice label -- at least I thought so, the wife thought it was a little over the top, so you can judge below -- but it was a bit malty for the rest of the beer. It was labeled some sort of ale, I thought it was an American Pale Ale, but then it tasted like an old IPA. Maybe it was one.
The Troegs listed itself as a harvest ale, so I thought it was a wet hop. It doesn't give off a ton of green like most wet hops, though. I got pineapple into grapefruit -- a combo I like -- but there was a little bit of a disconnect between the label and the beer. I love Nugget Nectar, though, and nobody knows how to label that beer and it's offspring, so that's fine. So: Hop Knife was fine. Probably the fourth- or fifth-best beer of the weekend.
That was my first Schlafly, and it was a weird one. I don't mind the roasted beans and cocoa approach to a light beer, but this one lacked the body to be a secret stout. It was a medium body roasty chocolate blonde more than it was something that changed the way I think about roasted malts.
2nd Shift Unicorn Killer Saison
4Hands Constellation Falconer's Flight IPA
Knee Deep Big Sipper DIPA
Shady Oak Stonamatic
I don't know about the name of this beer because unicorns are great and we should keep them around. Also, there were two sentences on the bottle, one about unicorns and one about the beer starting fruity and spicy and adding funk with time, so that was a bit of a non sequitir. The second sentence was right. It's funky, fruity, and peppery, like many tart saisons these days, but it's not so funky that there's no freshness to it. Still a Saison.
Fruity and piney, the Falconer's Flight was enjoyable without being too focused on the ever-forward march in progress. Everything 4Hands does is really great.
The Big Sipper was a big loser in the household. I thought it was too big and syrupy without bringing something different to offset all that bigness. My wife caught some soap. I'll recommend a Knee Deep but not this one.
Shady Oak makes some great Brett IPAs. This one was labled a wild ale, but it had enough dry hopping to render it fruity in both nose and taste. I don't think there's anyone that does Brett IPAs with the same combination of fruity and big without getting more funky and bright. We had the Sonomatastic Friday night, sometime, just thimble full, and that's three beers and three fours/fives from me. If there's a Crooked Stave in California, it might be Shady Oak. Do people appreciate it enough?
What a weekend! And I didn't make it to the biggest beer event of the bay area this weekend.