Beer Blotter’s Guide to Hard Liver 2011
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.