Home > The Events > Beer Blotter’s Guide to Brouwer’s HopFest 2010

Beer Blotter’s Guide to Brouwer’s HopFest 2010

Photo by Dor & Bob

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Brouwer’s is the best beer bar that I have ever been to in America, and believe me, I’ve been to quite a few good ones.  There is a lot of reasons for my confidence in that stance, but one of the larger ones is the fests that they host.  Yes, there is a decent number of bars in the country that host barleywine fests, and probably even more that organize IPA fests.  It seems pretty doubtful that there would be many that put on sour beer festivals or stout festivals, but I’m sure there are a hand full out there.  But, the question is, how many bars in America do all of those, and do them so well that beer nerds like myself take off of work to attend them?  I’d say that the answer is probably very, very few.  I love pretty much everything about Brouwer’s and HopFest is surely no exception.

So you know that I love Brouwer’s, you know that I love HopFest, you know that I will be there at the moment the doors open, and you know that I will imbibe many an IBU packed brew, but one more question need be answered: what will I be drinking?  That’s where the guide comes in.

First, check out the full list that we posted on the 1st.  After much consideration, I have developed a game plan.  Granted, there is going to be a few additions and most likely, a few exciting surprises come Friday.  If these surprises include Russian River Pliny the Younger or Firestone Walker Double Jack, you are going to want to forget the entire remainder of this article and just drink those until the kegs kick.

Top 10 beers to try:

10.) Russian River Blind Pig – I hear more and more people say “Pliny isn’t even their best IPA” in reference to Blind Pig.  I personally don’t agree, but everything that Russian River makes is good…damn good.  Blind Pig shows up in Seattle from time to time but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a decent contingent of folks out there that haven’t gotten a hold of it yet.  Here is your chance.

9.) Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster – My boss at Lazy Boy always gives me shit for my blog claiming that Black Raven is the best brewery in WA.  I’m sure he will also give me shit for not putting our Imperial IPA on this list (sorry boss, I feel a little weird self promoting.  It is a damn good beer though.)  Well, we stand by our claim about BRB.  The people spoke over at The Bev when they voted it in as the house IPA.  This brew is super solid in it’s regular form, I can only guess that the dry hopped version will be even better.  If you have cheated and looked down at number 1 already, you have seen another reason why we are confident in our claim.

8.) Elysian Idiot Sauvin – I honestly don’t know what this beer is.  That is precisely why I want to try it.  Elysian and experimentation go hand in hand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one had some peculiar adjuncts added.  No matter what, Elysian makes great beer and this will likely be worth your money.

7.) Midnight Sun XXX Black Double – When Cascadian Dark Ales, or CDAs took over the craft beer world a little while back, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before the Imperial black IPAs would show up.  Well here it is, and I must say, I’m intrigued.  I’m even more intrigued knowing that Midnight Sun is behind it.

6.) Boundary Bay Imperial – There are two Imperial IPAs produced in WA that are head and shoulders above all the rest.  This is one of them.  This is a beer that, if it were distributed with greater reach, would bring some much needed respect to Washington state in the beer war for state supremacy.  This is one of the very few beers that, if I hear that it is on tap somewhere close by, I will do all in my power to make it there immediately to get a pint.

5.)Hub Ace of Spades – I have only had this beer once before and it was at last year’s HopFest.  I can’t believe that that was a year ago, I remember it so well.  It was probably my favorite “new” beer (new to me) of the event.  As it turns out, it was voted the second best beer of the fest behind Pliny the Younger.  Now that Hub is distributing bottles in WA it may be easier to acquire this one, but I will still be ordering one and bathing in it’s brilliance.

4.) Mikkeller Single Hop – This is actually three beers in one (Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook),  sorry to cheat.  You probably don’t have to try all three, but it sure would make a fun experiment.  I absolutely love the concept of single hop beers and I love Mikkeller for making this series happen.  As a fledgling brewer I feel that spending time with these brews will help me gain a better understanding and appreciation for various hop varietals and their impact on scent and flavor. You can sometimes find these brews in 12oz bottles around town , but they are often over $6 a piece.  I don’t think I have ever seen them on draft – this is pretty special and definitely a good opportunity to taste them for, potential, a little bit less dough.

3.) Moylans Wet Hopsickle – Hopsickle is a triple IPA and it’s huge.  When you add the word “wet” before it, it means that fresh hops were used.  I’m getting emotional just thinking about the potential that this beer has to be mind-blowing.  God damn, I can’t believe it’s fresh hop season already!  Yet another reason why living in the Northwest is spectacular.

2.) Green Flash Palate Wrecker – Green Flash is masterful when it comes to hops.  Their West Coast IPA and Imperial IPA are both among the best made in America.  Like the Elysian above, I don’t really know what this beer is, but I know I need to have it.

1.) Black Raven Wisdom Seeker – This beer walks around town with a hype attached to it that is so massive and heavy that I’m amazed it can even stand on it’s own two feet, but boy does it ever.  When this beer hits a handle in the Seattle area, there is an instant buzz, and 20 minutes later (or less) she is out the door…gone…kicked.  Black Raven has clearly taken cues from other perennial buzz junkies (like Pliny the Younger) in seemingly stunting production and causing such a skewed supply and demand curve that on the rare occasion that is it available, people freak out to get a taste.  It would be silly of me to suggest that anything different will happen at HopFest.  This should go very fast so get there early and order 2 at once.

  1. John
    September 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I agree Brouwers is a great beer bar. Too bad they have has serious service issues. Every time I have gone there and sat at a table the wait staff seems less than interested in helping you. I really want to like them but it seems unless you fit the demographic (tattooed, pierced, hip hat) they could really care less if you stay or leave. And the wait staff is worthless when it comes to knowledge of what they are serving. God forbid you ask a question about the beer list.

  2. Tom Jackson
    September 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I had an annoying experience at Brouwers the other night. I’m a huge IPA fan – the stronger and hoppier the better. But I’ve had enough duds that I usually ask for a sample of an unknown IPA lest I’m stuck with a pint of crap. I asked for a sample of an IPA at Brouwers the other night and was refused. I then ordered a pint of the beer I had hoped to sample, and found it undrinkable. I asked to exchange it for another and was again refused. Can’t remember that ever happening to me anywhere else.

    • September 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      John & Tom:

      Wow, thanks for your honest opinions. We try to make sure that everyone is heard on this blog – and sometimes that means a bad word or two about one of our favorite places.

      With regard to the good on Brouwers – you really cannot argue that they invest significant resources into bringing you the best and brightest beer from across the country. They also deliver amazing food, a cool bar experience and unmatched beer events.

      With regard to your complaints – we have heard them before. There certainly is some animus that the bar’s staff lacks a friendly, or education approach. But, for the most part we really enjoy the people that work there. You just have to realize that they are typically swamped, trying to maintain a consistent staff, and doing their best to give you the info that you seek.

      That being said, I have never been denied a taste. Perhaps the beer was very rare?

      Hopefully, Brouwers will continue to improve their customer service. Otherwise, maybe they will just establish themselves as a “dont like it – dont come.” They might have earned that right. Bars like Toronado and Zeitgeist in San Fran seem to live by that creedo.

      Thanks for the comments. Keep em coming.


    • September 8, 2010 at 10:55 am

      Tom – That is the perfect example of why many people don’t like Brouwer’s. There is absolutely no excuse for them to stick you with a pint of something undrinkable, if it truly is an “off” beer and not just something that doesn’t fit your tastes. Not that you should have to do this, but you should have asked for the manager.

  3. September 8, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Hopfest! Hope to see you guys there. I need to get my ass out of work by noon Friday….

    • September 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      We’ll be there right around 11. Come over and say hi when you get in. Going to be epic, as always.

  4. Patrick
    September 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Very exciting. The amazing thing about this IPA lineup is I think most of the beers I haven’t tried yet. At local IPA fests I usually know at least 50% of the IPAs already – ex, at the Taphouse festival a couple weeks ago I was familiar with maybe half the list and of the rest I wasn’t that impressed with any standout beers.
    This is a great lineup – save some in the kegs for those of us who can’t get there till 6pm please. : )

  5. September 9, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I’m taking off work and getting there early too. It’s gonna be hard for me not to just drink Blind Pig all day, but I’m looking forward to some of the others on your list plus: Big Time Action Jackson, Full Sail Lupulin Fresh Hop & Elysian/NB Orgone. I wish there were gonna be more fresh hop beers on, but I guess it’s too early for that.

    Idiot Sauvin is made with those Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand.

    • September 9, 2010 at 8:52 am

      I figured that about the Idiot Sauvin. Im a big fan. Alpine Beer Co in San Diego uses them for an IPA that I love.

      Excited to see the new local stuff as well. Im hoping Iron Horse sends a cask conditioned fresh hop, but ill settle for the Imperial IPA.

      See you there.

  6. HopMiester
    September 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Brouwers is great. It can take a few minutes to get served, it’s a big place, be patient. This fact causes much of the bad service impression. Once you get served there is rarely a problem. And I would like it if they sold tasters but c’mon wouldn’t we all like to go in there and taste a bunch of beers, it’s not really practical for them though is it? And if there’s nothing wrong with the product you ordered should you really get a trade in? Try that at McD’s – Turns out I didn’t really want a McFish can I trade it in for a big mac? Right, I am sure if the beer is skunky or bottom of the keg bad then they’ll back it up. You’re all just whiners. In the last two months I have been in Portland’s Green Dragon and the Tornado in SF, staff at Brouwers is educated about the product, helpful, friendly and provide great service once they get to your table. No one selling Beer on this scale is better.

    The more interesting question RE the Blog Post, how do you try those ten or so beers and live to drink another day. OK so you can go back another day. But whats the strategy for order. Last year Pliny the Younger was gone after the first day. But there was still Ace of Spades since no one knew about it. This year I’m thinking I better get the Ace of Spades the first day cause it may not last. What else is hot and needs to be tried the first day. Or are you just gonna try them all and plan on catching a cab or sleeping it off down by the canal.

  1. September 27, 2010 at 10:37 am
  2. October 6, 2010 at 7:50 am

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