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!
This week we celebrated the food, beer and culture of Brussels the capital of Belgium (well The City of Brussels is the actual capital). Mussels cooked in a garlic, dry white wine broth with frites (thin strips of potatoes deep fried) is the most popular dish in the country. During and after our meal, we enjoyed three beers brewed in Brussels or the surrounding area. Please meet: Girardin Gueze 1882, Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic and Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze.
The birth of Brussels is attributed to Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia around 979. Damn that’s old! Charles went on to construct the first permanent fortification in the city. Originally, Brussels was a Dutch only speaking country. To date, the majority of residents speak French.
On to the next thing, our featured artist, surrealist Rene Magritte. Now, many amazing, prolific, talented, earth shattering artists are from Belgium. The majority of the most influential artists are from the Renaissance and Baroque periods (from 1300-1700). However, since Brussels is home to the largest collection of modern artist, Magritte’s artworks, this seemed quite fitting. His works frequently displays a juxtaposition of ordinary objects in an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. His most popular work, The Treachery of Images, as seen above, is a picture of a pipe with a caption, in French which translates as “This pipe is not a pipe.” His point? It is not a pipe, it is a painting of a pipe.
Of course, we are all thrilled to be going to Belgium, to soak it all in and drink ALL of the beer. But tonight, tonight, we could barely sit still as we polished off 3 12oz beauties contained in green glass.
The Girardin Gueze 1882 was cracked first and accompanied our mussels and frites. Straight from the “cellar” this beer was served at approximately 50 degrees. In our opinion, the perfect temperature. The carbonation does not overpower the flavor, yet the sourness combined with the texture feels like pop rocks in your mouth. Smells like (not pop rocks) corn, hay and a sour, yet sweet fruit such as a pineapple. A sweet tartness greats your taste buds while an element of apple cider vinegar and pineapple leads the way to the back of your throat and the corners of your jaw line. This beer took a lot of tastes, independent thoughts and discussion to truly detect its qualities. An amazing beer that went perfectly with the wine based broth and saltiness of the mussels.
We decided to split up the two Guezes (although later to find they were distinctly different in smell and flavor) with a Lambic. Before we divulge the beer of choice, lets discuss the qualities of a Lambic styled beer. Lambics are traditionally brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium which is just southwest of Brussels. During the brewing process, Lambics are exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley. This exposure gives the beer its distinctive flavor which tends to be dry, cidery and sour. Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic is brewed with cherries (krieks). Blood red in color with a slight transparency, this beer did in fact smell of dried cherries. The physical impact of this beer was unprecedented. There is a sour punch upon first sip then the effect immediately stings the corner of your jaws and dries your throat. This of course, leaves us wanting more and more.
Lastly, Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze from a brewery with a lot of history. Originally this brewery brewed a brown ale and a lambic. However, once World War I began, production ceased and never began again. From that point on and currently, Hanssens is a blend only establishment (making only Gueuzes). What a job, blending the great beers of Belgium. Once the beers are blended, they are bottle fermented in the brewery’s “caves”. This Gueuze smells like cured meats, pepper and pears. Interesting….the taste has a distinctive funkiness with a combination of malts in the background. It so interesting how the color and carbonation of this beer looks like your average American macro brewery but inside, the smells and the flavors are unique and complex, belonging to this one bottle and this bottle only.
Next week, we plan on waffles for dinner, beers from West Flanders and the cinema experience of “In Bruges”. So check back every week as we wind down the days until our trip to Belgium, Germany, Amsterdam and France!