This post is a continuation of the 2015 New Beer Every Day Beer Diary Challenge, #ottbeerdiary. Over the course of 2015, I drank at least one new beer every day. Please read the background in the link above, and enjoy reading about the most recently tasted beers below. This year I may deviate from the diary format in some posts, hoping to concentrate more on the locations and the breweries I am enjoying. If you’d like to join the challenge as well, let me know in the comments below. You can catch up on all of our posts as part of the challenge under the tag ottbeerdiary.
Day 396: January 31, 2016
If yesterday was one of my favorite beer drinking days ever, then today was approaching Nirvana!
I was rather surprised, and quite pleased with how well I felt this morning. After all of the tastes from yesterday at the Ratebeer Best Awards and Encomium, I was expecting to wake up with a bit of hangover, but not at all! It helped that the tastes were all quite small.
Today was the pièce de résistance of the weekend, however. The event that was bring in people from all over the region, even all over the country. The Ratebeer Best Festival. This was the first time the festival was being held in conjunction with the awards, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last. This is not your regular local beer festival with a collection of breweries from around the city. This was the Ratebeer Best Awards festival, and the breweries on hand were the same breweries who won awards the night before. Around forty breweries from around the country, and around the world, bringing some of their most famous beers for attendees to sample.
This is not a festival for beer drinkers. This is a festival for Beer Geeks!
But first, some breakfast. Our research for breakfast eats in Santa Rosa turned up a couple of must-try places, including Dierk’s Parkside. We got an early start and headed over to Dierk’s before the Sunday brunch crowd arrived in force, and still had a 15-minute wait for a table, but it was worth it! And provided a much-needed base for the day to come.
Ok, now back to the beer.
Since we finished breakfast early, we had some time to rest up before heading to the Santa Rosa airport where the festival was being held in a hanger. Shuttles were being provided from the Hyatt starting at 11AM, with the festival opening at 1PM, so I grabbed an early shuttle up to see the location. And I wasn’t the first! Even two hours before the VIP tasting start, there was already a growing line of attendees waiting to get in. I stood in the line for around an hour, listening to the chatter of those around me, dropping the names of the beers they were most interested in trying.
And with the line right next to the gate into the hanger area, as brewers were arriving, they’d pass past the line, making it a bit of a celebrity red-carpet feel as the more renowned brewers arrived. But with a little less glamour. Such as the arrival of the crew from Hill Farmstead, winners of the Best Brewery in the World award the night before, seemingly in a clown car, as six brewing icons plied themselves out of a compact car, to the applause (and laughs) of the crowd.
I’ll have more on the festival in another post, and will focus on the beers I drank today. Which I must say, was way too many. This was a festival where you paid an admission fee to get in, and you could have as many samples (and glasses) as you wanted. Very few people had only a single glass, as with the lines getting longer as the day wore on, most people wound up with one full glass they were sipping in line while they had an empty in hand for the next brewery. Or sometimes they were both full with the intent of finishing one before getting to the front of the line.
But with a line-up of beers such as was present today, it’s hard to blame anyone!
Ratebeer Best Festival beers sampled:
Double Cherry Red Poppy by The Lost Abbey – 6.2% Flanders Red Ale – Not quite as tart as normal Red Poppy, with more fruit flavor.
Westly (2015) by Sante Adairius Rustic Ales – 8.5% Saison – This was one I heard a number of people mentioning in line, so I made sure I grabbed one to see what it was about. Wow! Awesome funky sour. Delicious!
Derivation (Blend #3) by Side Project Brewing – 15% Imperial Stout – Brewed with a touch of rye, aged for a year in 2 year Willett barrels. Dark and a little sweet. Tasty. Very tasty.
Zombie Dust by 3 Floyds Brewing Company – 6.2% Pale Ale – One of those beers I’ve heard about for years but never had an opportunity to try. This is a truly excellent hoppy pale ale. Some citrus bitter. Awesome balance.
Apricot Stonington by Trillium Brewing Company – 7.5% Wild Ale – New England Wild Saison aged in oak barrels. Beautiful sour. Nice fruit
Duck Duck Gooze by The Lost Abbey – 7% Gueuze – A beautiful sour! I have a bottle of this sitting at home to share, and am looking forward to it more and more now.
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (2015) by Cigar City Brewing – 12.7% Imperial Stout – Lovely dark flavors. I can see why people clambor for Hunahpu Day at the brewery.
Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout (Sherry Barrel Aged) by Cigar City Brewing – 11% Imperial Stout – Nice. Slightly sweet Sherry notes.
Persica (Blend #2) by Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – 7.5% Wild Ale – Nice peach flavors. Fruity and sour. Aged in oak with peaches.
Apropos of Nothing by The Rare Barrel – 5.6% Wild Ale – Golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with elderberries and lavender. Very nice sour. Good fruit flavors.
Spontantripleblueberry by Mikkeller – 10% Lambic – Didn’t quite mesh as well as the other sours here. Plus the higher alcohol.
Sugar Daddy (Cognac Barrel Aged) by Boxing Cat Brewery – 14.5% Imperial Porter – Imperial Porter modeled after a Creme Brûlée dessert and aged in French Cognac Barrels for 4 months. It was Ok. Not great. A little unusual. But gotta give it props coming from Shanghai.
Ronan The Strawbarian by J. Wakefield Brewing – 4.5% Berliner Weisse – Nice strawberry and rhubarb fruit flavor. And a decent sour.
Bourbon Barrel Black Maple by Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery – 11% Imperial Porter – An excellent porter, with nutty, maple notes to bring some balance to the bitter.
Blot Out The Sun (Barrel Aged) by 3 Floyds Brewing Company – 12% Imperial Stout – Poor Blot Out the Sun. An excellent beer, but got no respect at the festival, as the Dark Lord Vanilla was going on tap after this keg kicked. I literally saw people pouring this out just so they could get to the Dark Lord. Excellent dark roast and Sauternes barrel flavors. A little minty.
The Purple by de Garde Brewing – 7% Sour Ale – Beautiful fruit flavors. Aged in wine barrels with both red and black raspberries.
Lee Kriek (Batch 2) by de Garde Brewing – 7.2% Sour Ale – Aged in oak barrels with cherries. Very nice Kriek flavor.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord with Vanilla Beans by 3 Floyds Brewing Company – 15% Russian Imperial Stout – The one everyone was waiting for. Marshmallow / Tootsie Roll. Heavenly delicious.
Mama Bear’s Sour Cherry Pie by Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – 7% Sour Ale – Awesome cherry flavors. So well balanced. Colorado montmorency cherries.
Aria – Cabaletta (White Wine) by Stillwater Artisanal Ales – 7.5% Saison – Chardonnay gose with apricots. Delicious.
Standard by Prairie Artisan Ales – 5.6% Saison – Delicious funky sourness. A light, crisp saison with a hoppy finish. Dry hopped with Motueka hops from New Zealand, providing a spicy, lime-like flavor and aroma.
Uncle Zester by Siren Craft Brew – 8.5% Braggot – Fruity sour. Quite delicious.
Orfeu Negro by Cervejaria Dogma – 12% Russian Imperial Stout – An excellent stout from arguably the best craft brewery in Brazil.
Quite a selection, and I barely scratched the surface of what was available!
And as amazing as the above list sounds, that still doesn’t include the beer of the day…
Name: Mornin’ Delight
Style: Imperial Stout
Producer: Toppling Goliath Brewing
Alcohol content: 12%
Bottle size: 2 oz. per taste
Purchased from: Ratebeer Best Festival
Mornin’ Delight by Toppling Goliath Brewing of Decorah, IA. Pitch black color with a slight dark brown ring of head. Coffee aroma. Coffee and chocolate abound on the flavors. Slight anise notes. Wonderful! After trying a sip of SR-71 the previous night, and then starting off with this at the festival, it’s very apparent why Toppling Goliath is named as one of the best breweries in the world. And why Mornin’ Delight was named the Best Beer in America in 2015!
While we received free media passes to the Ratebeer Best Awards ceremony and beer festival, all travel, the Cooperage beer tasting, and hangovers were at our own expense. All opinions are always our own.