Lurking in the shadows of summer beer festivals is the Seattle International BEERFEST. Mark your calendars for July 2-4th for this epic, yes, epic outdoor beer loving, beer gazing, beer drinking event.
We are talking beers from all over our fine country plus the rarest of the rare, beers from all over the globe. Over 150 beers from 15 different countries to be exact. Now you know why I’m saying “epic.”
Let the world unite under the pretense of good craft beers at Seattle Center next weekend. Its going to be magical and not to be missed. With over 150 beers, I am unable to review them all. However, I present you with four top five lists since that seems to be an easy way to organize the blog these days.
1. Top 5 breweries to try from the USA
2. Top 5 breweries to try from outside of the USA
3. Top 5 beers you should try
4. The 5 rarest of the rare
Hopefully that will cover the basics, but for the full list and all of the details visit the 2010 Seattle International BEERFEST’s website. And just a note, there is no particular order to the “Top 5s.”
1. Top 5: US Breweries To Try
Although this is your chance to try some rare, undeniably authentically amazing beers from other countries, I have to represent. After all, the USA did make it to the second round of the World Cup! So my reasoning behind choosing these 5: Festivals are a place where you want to capitalize on those beers you normally cannot obtain and those that have several options. Therefore, the breweries are on this list for mainly those two reasons, plus of course, they are awesome.
- Cascade Brewing Co., Portland, Oregon- amazing sours beers and once in awhile Uber Tavern will get a few kegs, ONCE IN AWHILE. They are showcasing two mystery beers, which are almost certain to be some wild yeast infected, wood-aged masterpiece. Save your tickets for those.
- Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, Colorado- The beers that are pouring, you can buy in bottles, but rarely do you get to enjoy a Oak Aged Chocolate Yeti (read our review) on tap. Also, try their IPA!
- Deshutes Brewing Co., Bend, Oregon- Black Butte XXII- its new and its here!
- Dogfish Head Brewing Co., Rehoboth Beach, Delaware- although this brewery is getting more popular by the minute, this weekend 90 min IPA, the 120 min IPA (take it easy on this one, its 21%!!!!) and World Wide Stout will be pouring, so if you missed WWS at Brouwer’s Back to Black during Seattle Beer Week, now is your chance for redemption.
- New Old Lompoc Brewing Co., Portland, Oregon: This is another brewery that although located 2 hours south of Seattle, rarely shows up on tap. Try their barleywine and save on the gas!
2. Top 5: The Foreign Brewers To Try
Now onto more worldly things….the following breweries produce high quality beverages. I will write a little snippet, if you will, on each brewery just for your enjoyment.
- Mikkeller, Denmark: Mikkeller makes beers of all styles and they are all amazing. A line of single hop IPAs, an IPA that combines 10 hops, a-m-a-z-i-n-g-l-y flavorful and thick stouts as well as your finest Belgium styled beers. And, no big deal, but they are pouring 6 beers, one of which is Big Worse (their incredible barleywine).
- Dieu du Ciel, Canada: Amazed that the two beers they are pouring are on tap – Peche Mortel Imperial Stout and Rigor Mortis, a Quad.
- Nogne-O, Norway: If their amazing trademark brand doesn’t entice you, then their innovative beers will. Cant go wrong with a beer from Nogne-O, especially the Batch 100 IPA.
- Cantillion, Belgium: If you are a frequent reader, then you know our love for this brewery, especially after experiencing it first hand. Authentic Lambics are brewed here. When you drink these lambics, you can taste the authenticity…it just tastes…pure. Iris is the only beer pouring, but my God, its on draft.
- Caracole, Belgium: This is a Belgium brewery through and through producing a White Ale, a Blonde, Amber Ale and Brown Ale. Of course, these beers are named for their color…their taste goes much much deeper.
3. Top 5: Beers You Cannot Miss
Now this is challenging- the top 5 beers you should try.
- Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast on draft! Had this a couple weeks ago in San Diego. Fixated.
- Mikkeller Big Worse on draft! And I am back to this brewery. That is what you get for being awesome and also pouring 6 beers. Big Worse is a barleywine and is on tap. A Beer Blotter favorite.We had Beer Geek in San Diego last month and Big Worse on the tap in Amsterdam – best on draft.
- Oud Beersel Oude Kreik: a cherry lambic pouring from the bottle.
- Both of Cascades’ Mystery Beers: take your pick, cannot go wrong. I know that’s two beers – but whatever.
- Nogne- O #100: a Double Imperial IPA on draft.
4. Top 5: Rare Ones Not To Miss
Now, on to the rarest of a the rare.
- Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Bacon: WHAT? BACON? Its out of the bottle but this is going to be unreal.
- De Molen Dispution Stout: We had the pleasure of visiting this brewery in the Netherlands. Every beer they crank out is top notch, this being no exception.
- De Proef K-O: Straight from Belgium, this “Knock Out” is a Triple weighing in at 10% (ok no more boxing puns).
- De Ranke Cuvee: Old sour beer from De Ranke blended with Girardin (another brewery in Belgium) lambic. This is being poured from the bottle. However, if you are in the mood for draft, De Ranke is pouring the XX Bitter which has a hop component with that sour funk you get from good ol’ wild yeast. Both beers are sure to impress!
- De La Senne Equinox: I’ve selected this beer because they are the perfect representation of the “new Belgian” movement across the Atlantic. This young brewer is situated in French Belgium, south of Brussels. They make remarkably progressive beers, while holding on to the classic Belgian styling. Try this beer, one of their best.
There are so many amazing beers and amazing breweries at this event. It truly is unfortunate that my liver and my bank account can’t support my trying every last one. Take notes, report back and let us know which beers you are excited to try. Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at email@example.com with any questions, concerns or comments***
Enjoyed on 6/23/2010
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Beer: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped and Foiled
Vintage: Bottled on 3/15/2010
Style: Imperial Stout
Barrel: Oak Chips
Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees
Notes From the Bottle: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout is a new addition to the Yeti clan. A generous infusion of Denver’s own Pablo’s espresso adds yet another layer of complexity to this beer, combining with the vanilla oak character, intense roasty maltiness and bold hop profile to create a whole new breed of mythical creature. It’s official, you can now have Yeti with breakfast.
Food Pairings: Breakfast burrito, eggs Benedict, hash browns, cheesecake, creme brulee.
Cheese Pairings: Gouda, brie, swiss
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 100 (4.08)
The combination of coffee and beer has an unclear history. When it was and who it was that first combined the two alludes me. Though the amalgam of two of the worlds most loved brewed beverages seems like a painfully obvious invention, it is by no means a traditional fusion for brewmasters. In fact, one just may consider coffee imperial stouts to be yet another page in the ever-expanding history book of the world’s extreme beer movement.
The “obvious” tag comes with the natural flavor components of the two core ingredients of this style, and how they compliment each other. The thick, treacly black nature of stouts comes from roasted and chocolate malts that impart a bevy of flavors upon the brew, most pertinently: coffee accents. Coffee on the other hand, coats the mouth in a blanket of oils and astringent bitterness. In many cases, deep stouts leave the bitterness of the hops far too hidden in the depths to play a substantial role, but the addition of coffee breathes life back into the bitterness component of the beer.
The “coffee flavor” will always stand above the rest in such a brew. The best brewers will find a way to bring complexity to the stage. It is the mouthfeel, the sweetness, the chocolate, the roasty elements that support the coffee that will separate your run of the mill coffee infused brews from the all-time greats. The original Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti is one of the most masterfully created imperial stouts I have ever had, so we already know that the backbone is strong with this one. Let’s see how perky the espresso version makes the palate.
She pours the color of fresh black top with a timid head that quickly settles to the familiar “wisp and ring” that I describe so often. While that froth lasts, it’s a sight to behold. So rich and luxurious. Reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate or a dark roast espresso or mocha’s foam. A mild clinging to the walls of the glass exists, but mostly in sporadic clumps, like arms of lather reaching for freedom from the vessel’s confines.
The scent is deep and complex. As the brew warms, the coffee becomes more and more overpowering, but prior to the bean’s reigning supreme, there is a very earthy undertone. May the hops actually be discernible? These smells of freshly tilled earth and hop farm, entwined with coffee, lend the impression of what may be the scent of raw coffee beans. Perhaps I’ve been transported to the fields of a Colombian Coffee farm. I can see the workers gathering and harvesting without rest. Just imagine the bean’s long journey to Denver and their careful roasting. Do you think they ever thought that they would end up in a beer?
A lot of chocolate sweetness is able to cut through it all, which is a relief. I feel almost as though I can smell the oily nature of the fluid that the beans secreted. The boozy scent is mostly hidden until she warms quite drastically and a medicinal quality emerges. The melding of this medicine, dirt or earth, coffee… seems to fuse into a perfume of fermented dark grape or cherry skins. Very intriguing. My mouth waters.
The mouthfeel is very creamy and epitomizes body. This is yet another quality of imperial stouts that separates the men from the boys. No skimping on grain bills here.
At this point the booze is very recognizable, but the intense bitter of the coffee competes with considerable mettle, and my mouth is ecstatic to play host. The oils of the coffee are as coating as I’d assumed they would be, and thus the flavors linger with no premonition of dissipation. In fact, the flavors seem to improve with the added heat of my mouth. I need more!
Ultimately, if forced to choose, I’d prefer the uninfringed original version, with its natural complexities, but this is very nearly the best coffee beer I’ve ever had. My excitement was palpable when I first read that Great Divide would be treating their Yeti with various additions. The chocolate version is well worth a taste as well. If you like an imperial stout as much as Timperial, these are not to be missed.
If you like Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, you should try…
Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.