Sunday, May 17, 2009

Washington Beer Week
American Craft Beer Week (officially recognized by Congress now!) wrapped up today, and Washington had so many events we needed ten days to celebrate it properly. There was a beer class hosted by Mike Baker at The Pub at Pipers Creek, Cask beers at Beverage Place, The Dray pulled out some rarities on draft they squirreled away for a special occasion, and the event that excited me, The Sour Beer Fest at Brouwers. They featured 30 Sours from all over the U.S. and Belgium. They also featured a special food menu for the occasion which unfortunately I forgot to grab (gimme a break I just started doing this), but it looked amazing, and every item featured some beer in the recipe. I did grab the beer lineup, but if you love sour beers like I do, you should sit down before looking at this lineup. The beers that I tasted are described in parenthesis.

Allagash-Confluence Firkin
Anacortes-Sour (I just had a sip of this one. It was mildly sour with hints of ribbon candy sweetness)
Baron-Dirty Sour Doppelbock
Boon-Cask 17a
Boon-Cask 52
Cantillon-Fou Foune
Cantillon-Lou Pepe Framboise (Absolutely gorgeous ruby red color, champagne carbontation, perfectly sour!)
Cantillon-St Lamvinus
Cantillon-Lou Pepe Kriek
Cascade-Gold Yeller
Cascade-Nightfall Blackberry (Only had a little taste of this one, later regretted not getting a glass of my own)
Cascade-Sang Noir
Cascade-Sang Royal
Cascade-Vlad the Imp Aler (points for clever word play)
Drakes-Blueberry Imperial Stout
Drakes-Cherry Imperial Stout
Elysian-Gameworks 8yr Cherry Lambic
Full Sail-Berlinerweiss
Hales-Sour Bucephalus
Hansens-Kriek Firkin (Firkin amazing! More like a sour wine with a light carbonation, but wonderful)
Justin-Tour de Burke
Lost Abbey-Cuvee de Tomme
New Belgium-Bottleworks 10
New Belgium-Fodre 3
New Belgium-La Terroir (As good as any of the old world Belgians I had. The U.S. is closing the gap. Lookout Belgium!)
Northern Lights-Whiskey Sour Dunkel
Oud Beersel-3yr Lambic
Port Townsend-Sour Red (One of the few beers that had any evidence of malted barley and hops, but still mildly sour. Way to go Carter! Nice job.)
Rodenbach-Grand Cru (Still the gold standard for Flemish sours. Perfection in a glass!)
Russian River-Consecration, Deviation, Sanctification, Supplication, Temptation, Empirical 7 "P.N.C. Brew" (They are doing some great things at Russian River. If you haven't tried any of their beers, stop what you are doing and go drink one! My only complaint with their beers is with all the -tion endings it's hard to keep them straight; especially after you've had a few of them!)
Victory-Wild Devil

There was a bit of a line to get in the front door when we arrived at 6pm, and another line to get beer, but this was one of the few things that I thought was worth queuing up for. Most of my time in the beer line was spent sifting through that list and decide what two beers to get. Getting two beers at a time proved to be a little unnecessary since the service staff for the event was great, but better safe than thirsty! I have worked in the restaurant business most of my adult life, and I know that crowded events can be stressful to servers. Trying to elbow your way through throngs of drinkers when you have a job to do gets to be a drag after awhile. Kudos to the Brouwers staff. They were both friendly and efficient. I think the thing that impressed me the most was the fine efforts from American breweries. I will always taste a local version of a Belgian style, but usually they fall a little short of their Belgian counterparts. Not so much these days. Some of the American sours I tried were every bit as good as the Belgians. It's nice to see American brewers closing the gap and nailing styles dead on that take real art to brew. I had to brush my teeth about four times the next day to get the sour taste out of mouth, but more than worth it!

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