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Beer Blotter’s Guide to Hard Liver 2011

March 3, 2011 1 comment

I make a “guide to” for nearly every big event at Brouwer’s.  I do this for a few reasons.  Most importantly, to put my greater than average knowledge of beer to good use in assisting you in your journey through the vast taps at Seattle’s premier beer bar.  Hard Liver, in this case, is an event that boasts a god awful amount of huge, better-judgment-dampening barley and hop concoctions, and if you’re misguided you may end up with a blown out palate, or worse, wake up in a gutter somewhere with no recollection of all the rare brews you swilled the night before.

Yeah, sure, there is, without a doubt, several people in Seattle that have been to far more Hard Liver Fests than me, and there is definitely a handful of beers on the list that I have no experience with, but I haven’t missed a HLF since I moved here and I love barleywines.  Just trust me.

The following is the (incomplete) list of barleywines that will be pouring at HLF, which starts on Saturday, March 12th.  I’ve highlighted the ones that I think deserve extra attention due to either increased levels or rarity or increased levels of deliciousness/intrigue.

1 Flying Dog Horn Dog 09
2 Fishtail 10 squared – If you’re a hop-head, this is a local gem that is more of an imperial IPA than a barleywine, which could also be said for several others on this list.  Most notably, Avery Hog Heaven, Ninkasi Critical Hit and a young Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws.
3 Red Hook Trouble Hook 10 – This is very possibly the best beer that Red Hook has ever made.  It will shock you.  Trust me.
4 Alaskan Golden Nugget 10
5 Victory Old Horizontal 10 – Victory is most impressive when it comes to high gravity beers.  Their big Belgians, Storm King Imperial Stout, and this amazingly smooth barleywine are all top-notch.
6 Sierra Nevada Big Foot 08
7 Sierra Nevada Black Barleywine 10 – This is part of SN’s 30th Anniversary series.  It’s delicious, has a great story, and probably won’t be around for much longer.  Scoop it up while you can.
8 Avery Hog Heaven 10
9 Boulder Killer Penguin 10
10 Great Divide Old Ruffian 10
11 Southern Tier Back Burner 09 – I just really love this beer and it has some age on it… so I have to recommend it.
12 Anchor Old Foghorn 10
13 Dogfish Olde School 10
14 Lost Coast Fog Cutter 10
15 Pike Old Bawdy 07
16 Anderson Valley Horn of the Bear 09
17 Ninkasi Critical Hit 10
18 Speakeasy Old Godfather 09 – I just recently gushed my love for Speakeasy in a Hop Brief about Double Daddy Imperial IPA.  Sadly, they are no longer distributing to Seattle, which is probably why there is no ’10 on the menu.  This beer is amazing and now, rare in these parts.
19 Stone Old Guardian 09
20 Stone Belgo Barleywine 10
21 Lagunitas Gnarleywine 10 – Though this beer is pretty easy to come by this time of year, it’s obnoxiously delicious.  In my top 5 b-wines of all time.
22 North Coast Old Stock ale 10
23 Anacortes Old Sea Bastes 10
24 Dick’s 05 – A) Dick’s is super underrated in WA.  They make excellent beer. B) Did you see the vintage on this one? C) See A & B
25 Hales Rudyard’s Rare 07
26 Hood Canal Breidablik 10
27 Deschutes Mirror Mirror 08
28 Mad River John Barley Corn 09
29 Hair of Dog Doggie Claws 10 – It’s HoD people! HoD! Allen can do no wrong!
30 Boundary Bay Old Bounder 10
31 Glacier Brew House Old Woody 10 – It kind of sucks that we don’t see more Glacier beers in Seattle.  They always impress.  Their barleywine is possibly their best beer.
32 Lost Abbey Angel Share 10 Brandy
33 Lost Abbey Angel Share 10 bourbon – This is the 3rd highest ranked barleywine on ratebeer.com and the first two are retired.  ‘Nuff said.
34 Black Raven Old Birdbrain 10
35 Elysian Cyclops 10
36 Ram Mall Walker 10
37 Fullsail Old Board Head ??
38 Hub Noggin Floggin 10
39 Bigsky Old Blue Hair 10
40 Bigsky Old Blue Hair 10 Cask – It’s not everyday that you see a barleywine on cask, especially not a rare one.  Barleywines are traditionally British, so why not drink them in traditional British fashion.
41 Firestone Abacus 11 – This is one of the rarest and most delicious barleywines in the world.  I’d be willing to put it on the top of my all time list of b-wines.  A must purchase!
42 Smaltz jubilation Blend 14
43 7 Seas Wheel Chair 10

44 Moylan’s Old Blarney 10
45 Marin Old Dipsey 10 – You’re probably not going to see this anywhere else in Seattle.  Marin does not distribute to the area, and they make really good stuff.  Get it while you can.
46 Scuttlebutt Old No. 1 09
47 Naked City Cluster Cuss 10
48 Eel River Triple Exultation 10

My top five of the beers listed so far:

5. Big Sky Old Blue Hair Cask

4. Marin Old Dipsey

3. Sierra Nevada Black Barleywine

2. Speakeasy Old Godfather

1. Firestone Walker Abacus

And remember, don’t be a dick.  These fests are a nightmare to work for the Brouwer’s staff.  SIZE & NUMBER.

The List of Excellence For Hard Liver Barleywine Festival

February 25, 2011 1 comment

its coming.....2 weeks

Its out! Finally, I know what grogs will lead to the demise of my liver next month.

While I plan on a 10 hour epic adventure through Brouwer’s Cafe’s 9th Annual Hard Liver Barleywine Festival, you can start to ponder which of these beers you will focus your attention upon. Oh but wait! There is no reason to worry about selecting 2 or 3 of these 10-18% beauties, Brouwers will be serving 3oz, 6oz and 12oz pours! Hooray for big beer.

So, take a gander and start planning. The festival begins on March 12th and runs through March 16th. Timperial will be here on the blog to give you the full preview early next week. If you have read his previews before, you know that its the best way to prepare for a beer festival.

Below is the numbered 48 beer list, but the website says over 60 will be poured. You can expect a few changes down the road, including some special hidden treasures.

In a cursory peak, I am most excited about the new Firestone Abacus, Marin Old Dipsea (always delicious), Victory Old Horizontal and of course some youthful experiments from local guys 7 Seas, Naked City, and Black Raven. Where the hell did they find that 2005 Dicks Barleywine!!!!! Delicious.

Enjoy…..

1 Flying Dog Horn Dog 09
2 Fishtail 10 squared
3 Red Hook Trouble Hook 10
4 Alaskan Golden Nugget 10
5 Victory Old Horizontal 10
6 Sierra Nevada Big Foot 08
7 Sierra Nevada Black Barleywine 10
8 Avery Hog Heaven 10
9 Boulder Killer Penguin 10
10 Great Divide Old Ruffian 10
11 Southern Tier Back Burner 09
12 Anchor Old Foghorn 10
13 Dogfish Olde School 10
14 Lost Coast Fog Cutter 10
15 Pike Old Bawdy 07
16 Anderson Valley Horn of the Bear 09
17 Ninkasi Critical Hit 10
18 Speakeasy Old Godfather 09
19 Stone Old Guardian 09
20 Stone Belgo Barleywine 10
21 Lagunitas Gnarleywine 10
22 North Coast Old Stock ale 10
23 Anacortes Old Sea Bastes 10
24 Dick’s 05
25 Hales Rudyard’s Rare 07
26 Hood Canal Breidablik 10
27 Deschutes Mirror Mirror 08
28 Mad River John Barley Corn 09
29 Hair of Dog Doggie Claws 10
30 Boundary Bay Old Bounder 10
31 Glacier Brew House Old Woody 10
32 Lost Abbey Angel Share 10 Brandy
33 Lost Abbey Angel Share 10 bourbon
34 Black Raven Old Birdbrain 10
35 Elysian Cyclops 10
36 Ram Mall Walker 10
37 Fullsail Old Board Head ??
38 Hub Noggin Floggin 10
39 Bigsky Old Blue Hair 10
40 Bigsky Old Blue Hair 10 Cask
41 Firestone Abacus 11
42 Smaltz  jubilation Blend 14
43 7 Seas Wheel Chair 10
44 Moylan’s Old Blarney 10
45 Marin Old Dipsey 10
46 Scuttlebutt Old No. 1 09
47 Naked City Cluster Cuss 10
48 Eel River Triple Exultation 10

Happening This Weekend – Barleywine Bacchanal 2011

February 24, 2011 3 comments

It’s that time again. Are you ready for barleywine season? Ready or not, here it comes. Starting this Friday the 25th, West Seattle’s finest beer emporium, Beveridge Place Pub (6413 California Avenue Southwest) hosts it’s 9th (I think) annual festival of all things barleywine.

From BPP’s website:

FEB 25 – MAR 5, 2011: Barleywine Bacchanal!
A Decadent Celebration of the Biggest, Boldest brews! 50 rotating barleywines on draught from the West Coast’s best breweries including many new releases as well as vintages from the cellar! 24 dedicated Barleywine Taps throughout the Fest! Look for upcoming information regarding special tasting events during the Bacchanal.

In case you’ve never been to this festival before, this is how it works, or at least how it has worked in the past… BPP will post a schedule of what beers they plan to tap on each day of the fest.  This is very unlike the way Brouwer’s does their Hard Liver Fest (March 12 – 16).  As it says above, BPP doesn’t tap all of the b-wines at once. Each day they will have 24 on tap and shuffle through the entire collection as kegs blow/days go by.

This has the potential to remove some of the weight off of your shoulders when it comes to attempting to get all of the rare offerings at once, but it could also mean that you will need to go to the pub on several occasions to get everything that you want.  We will try to keep you abreast of the schedule as it becomes available so that you can work out your game plan.

Obviously, we  have yet to see the list for this year but one could reasonably assume that some, if not all, of the following standards will be available.

Avery Hog Heaven
Deschutes Mirror Mirror
Dogfish Head Olde School
***Firestone Walker Abacus*** – If we are really lucky.
Fish Leviathan
Hale’s Rudyard’s Rare
Pike Old Bawdy
Port Angel’s Share
Port Townsend
Rogue Old Crustacean
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
Walking Man Old Stumblefoot
Flying Dog Horndog
Left hand Widdershins
Mad River John Barleycorn
North Coast Old Stock
Victory Old Horizontal
New Old Lompoc Old Tavern Rat ‘08
Alaskan Barleywine
Anchor Old Foghorn
Stone Old Guardian
Lagunitas Old Gnarleywine
Big Sky Old Blue Hair
Glacier Old Woody
Great Divide Old Ruffian
Green Flash Barleywine
Hair of The Dog Doggie Claws
Moylan’s Old Blarney
Ninkasi Critical Hit

Barleywine Season Approaches, Events Begin To Amass

Killer barleywine

As the calendar year rolls over and the harsh winter winds gain ferocity, there is one thing that keeps me going…propels me forward towards the impending spring that seems ever so far away…warms my bones and heart when nothing else can thaw the freeze…BARLEYWINE!  The mother of all beers.  The demolisher of livers.  My good friend that never fails to deliver.

To quote the late, great Michael Jackson, “Because I wanted to have a place that I could create everything that I never had as a child. So, you see rides. You see animals. There’s a movie theater.”  Oh wait, wrong MJ.  Try this one – “This is very distinctive, with an earthy hoppiness, a wineyness, lots of fruit and toffee flavours.”  Mr. Jackson, as always, produced a precise and concise summary of the style with that sentence, though his description is by no means the end all be all of the style, especially when some of the more experimental craft breweries get their creative juices flowing.  Many of my personal favorite examples of the style are more like uber-balanced imperial IPAs.  You will also find versions that have been barrel aged or that resemble more of an imperial stout or eisbock.  The possibilities are endless with barleywine, and that why I love them so.

Last year I got my own creative juices a flowin’ in my expression of deep admiration for the style.  In case you missed it, follow this link.

Though the two local, not to be missed, mega-celebrations of barleywine are still about a month and a half to two months away [Beveridge Place Pub's Bacchanal (date yet to be set) and Brouwer's Hard Liver (March 12th)], the good folks at Pike Pub & Brewery are celebrating the season with the annual vertical tasting of Old Bawdy (96 on Rate Beer).  Check out the details below.

OLD BAWDY VERTICAL TASTING
of Rare Archived Vintages

DATE: Sunday, January 30, 2011

TIME: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM

LOCATION: The Museum Room, Pike Brewing Company
1415 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

COST: $20 with RSVP by January 29th
$25 at the door
PIKE PUB CLUB and WABL members: $15 (passport required)

RSVP: Tara 206.812.6604

WHAT IS OLD BAWDY BARLEY WINE?
Old Bawdy Barley Wine is a rich, concentrated elixir that is best served as a digestive, or to

accompany lusty cheese, artisan bread, fruit (fresh or dried) and nuts, or at the end of the meal.

Fine Barley Wines, when properly cellared, can be aged. Old Bawdy develops in complexity as it

matures, and can be laid down for up to 10 years.

THE HISTORY
Seattle’s history of lusty beer dates to pioneer days when the local population was made up

primarily of men. Bawdy houses abounded and by the time naughty Nellie Curtis established

the La Salle Hotel, this “city on the sound” reverberated with the echoes of fun and frolic.

The La Salle, where Pike Brewery was established in 1989, was the last of Seattle’s infamous

“bawdy houses.”Pike’s Old Bawdy Vertical Tasting is an annual toast to commemorate

Nellie Curtis and her “ladies of pleasure.”

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Simple Pleasures – Beer Desert

April 29, 2010 1 comment

Happy Birthday to me!

**Notes of a Beer Nerd is written by Timperial Stout, our resident cellar dwelling mammal. Reach out to him at timperialstout@beerblotter.com or write a comment below.***

Tuesday I celebrated my 30th birthday. Well, actually, I use the word “celebrate” loosely. The real celebration was about 2 weeks ago when the greatest friends and family a man could ever ask for threw me a “Dirty 30″ surprise party (thank you all so very much!).

I also just completed a long weekend away at Treehouse Point, yet another surprise provided by my wonderful girlfriend. Point is, I’ve already done a lot of celebrating, so Tuesday, the actual anniversary of my birth, was more or less comprised of a bit of self-pampering.

After a long day at the brewery helping out Rhett Burris of Burris Brewing cook up another batch of his delightful Jackrabbit Pale Ale, I stopped at Ballard Market on my way home and grabbed some ingredients for an epic Skooby-Doo style sandwich (you know, the kind that is so tall that you need to crush it down with both hands in order for it to fit in your mouth) and, of course, some tasty adult beverages.

A Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA paired very nicely with my turkey (and a ridiculously lengthy list of accompanying ingredients) sandwich. The scent of palisade hops that filled the air of the brewery earlier in the day made me crave this member of the Seven Wonders of the Hoppy World (doesn’t exist, but it should).

Honestly, the herbal and malty sweet balance of 90 Minute is so perfect that I believe it would pair nicely with just about anything.  I mean, if you told me I had to eat a shoe but I could wash it down with a 90m, I’d eat the hell out of that shoe.

The most exciting and noteworthy element of this pampering came at the very end of the night.  A simple pleasure, but a pleasure without a doubt – an ice cream float!  I took the simplicity to the extreme, using Rogue‘s Chocolate Stout and vanilla bean ice cream, both of which are very easily obtained at almost anywhere selling foodstuffs.  I decided to give it a little pizzazz and added a few fresh raspberries.

This made me think…surely, in the vast reaches of culinary creation, there must be countless ways to pair beer with ice cream and make it delicious.  With all the styles of both out there, what possibilities await us?  I did a bit of brainstorming and some research, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts.  Maybe the next time your sweet tooth comes a knockin’ you’ll whip up a beer float and tell us your thoughts.

Sticking with the stout motif, The imperial stouts of Southern Tier would be killer combos with vanilla, chocolate, or even fruit flavored ice creams.  Try Choklat, Jah*va, Mokah, Creme Brulee, or Oat.

How about fruit lambics and ice cream?  Just about any offering from Lindeman’s would be killer with vanilla.  A Cantillon Kriek or any of the New Belgium Lips of Faith beers would work wonderfully as well.

What about a nut brown ale like Troegs Rugged Trail?  A coffee flavored ice cream might go well with this one, or paired with a milk stout like Left Hand‘s.

A sweet barleywine like an aged Speakeasy Old Godfather or even an eisbock like Kulmbacher‘s could go exceptionally well with a mildly flavored ice cream.

Playing mad scientist with beer and ice cream seems like a darn productive use of time to me.  Beer Blotter suggests that you give it a whack and let us know what pairings work best.

Fred Fest 2010: Hair of the Dog Showcases in hometown of Portland, OR

April 28, 2010 1 comment

Fred Fest 2010

In celebration of world renowned brewer, Fred Eckhardt, Hair of the Dog will be hosting their 5th annual Fred Fest. Fred, known to many beer lovers as an American style barleywine is just one of many spectacular brews from Portland’s very own HOTD.

Below is a blurb from FredFestPDX’s blog regarding details about the event:

Attendees will be treated not only to a rare assortment of hand-selected beers, but also light fare cooked in beer and a birthday cake — complete with a round of “Happy Birthday” — just for Fred. Cheeses, chocolate, candy and even cereal will be offered in abundance so attendees can experience some of Fred’s famed beer-and-food pairings.

Cost for the event is $50 in advance ($60 at the door for the few remaining tickets, if any) and includes a souvenir glass, free ticket for a raffle of bottled specialty beers and four hours of sampling, sipping and story-telling with Fred. Tickets *are* limited and they are going fast (they’ve sold out every year to date), so order yours today before it’s too late!

So get ready, Monday, May 10, 2010 from 6:00PM until 10:00 PM at Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.’s digs. You will be in the company of some amazingly unique and well executed beers.  As always, 100% of the proceeds from FredFest and the related auctions will go to a charity of Fred’s choice. This year, Fred has named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as the 2010 recipient of the fest.

A quick side note- use the directions to the brewery that are posted on their website. Your GPS will bring you to a place that does not serve beer and that is very upsetting.

Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. makes several beers that are worth your time and pleasure. You have your attainable beers such as Blue Dot, a smooth IPA, Ruth, your quintessential American Pale Ale, Adam, first brewed in Dortmunder, Germany and Fred, a barleywine. Now, on to those HOTD beers that make my eyes pop out of my skull when I see them in bottles and, the unthinkable, on tap.  Fred from the wood is aged to perfection, Doggie Claws, a heavy, flavorful, seasonal barleywine and B.O.B (my personal favorite and a rarity that is not bottled to my knowledge) a lambic style beer aged in wine barrels.

HOTD is a highly respected brewery. All of their beers are easy to drink, entice your taste buds and encourage a greater love of beer. These are the reasons why we LOVE this brewery.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: 2007 Stone Brewing Old Guardian

2007 Stone's Old Guardian Barley Wine

Enjoyed on 12/7/2009
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.

Location: Escondido, CA

Beer: Old Guardian (the OG)

Web: http://www.stonebrew.com

Presentation: 22 Fl. Oz. (650.6 ML) – Brown Glass Bottle

Vintage: 2007

Style: Barley Wine Style Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 11.26%

IBU: 95

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Tulip

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Notes from the bottle: “Ingredients: A whole buncha Barley, tons o’ Hops, Water & Yeast.” Also, an enormous amount of text from brewer Greg Koch that I’d rather not type. Interestingly, the content is mainly about the current (at the time it was written) building of the Stone Bistro. There is also mention of the “just over a hundred” Stone employees. The current homepage of the brewery states: “Happy Holidays from all 278 of us at Stone!” Yes, Stone is a force.

Bottled on: “Limited Early 2007 Release”

Flavor will continue to develop for some time to come.

Food Pairings: Dessert of any kind

Cheese Pairings: Pungent ones such as Blue, Gorgonzola, Limburger

Beer Advocate: A-

Rate Beer: 99 (3.97)

Timperialstout’s Notes:
I believe this is the last of the very few beers that I brought with me from Philadelphia when I moved here. It’s a bit sad that it will be gone after tonight, but it’s been refrigerated for far too long and I was really beginning to worry about its seal’s integrity. From what I’ve gathered, extended stays in the refrigerator can dry out the rubber on the inside of the bottle cap and cause the seal to be compromised. I’m not exactly sure how long that takes, but I’d rather not toy with the great OG. No worries after tonight, I now have a real cellar for cellaring. Let’s get into it. She pours a glowing amber, near tangerine hue. A stunning clarity and a surprisingly plump head for the age. A not entirely strong pour brings about a nice tan cap of varying sized bubbles that leaves a dense lacing on the glass. That’s from all the unfermented sugars. This one is really sticky, and that is just what I love. The scent is of salt water taffy I think. Maybe a bit of cotton candy, slightly metallic in there too… with hops just squeaking through in the end. Nearly three years of aging and the hops have more presence than natural preservation, yeah… “tons o’ Hops” indeed. The mouthfeel is so smooth and delightful, honey coated. A slight prickle from the carbonation is more present just after the pour and while slightly colder. Hop bitterness is definitely there still. When you age a beer for several years you sort of expect that bitterness to fade, and though I surely love malty sweetness, beer perfection to me is malt and hop extremes coming together on the battlefield and bringing balance where it shouldn’t exist. This OG’s malt vs. hop square-off is no doubt being won by team barley, but the hops are fighting for their lives. To me, that shows serious class, and brewing skill. It’s Stone, I’m not surprised. Alcohol burn is minimal. No off celery like flavors that I so often get from barley wines, especially the younger ones. It’s a great Monday night!

If you like Old Guardian, you should try…

Hair of the Dog – Doggie Claws
Victory – Old Horizontal
North Coast – Old Stock Ale

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard earned money at a local bottle shop and aged to perfection all on my own.

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