This year we got to Toronado before the doors were open, but even that didn’t snag us a table. It did, however, give us a little time to taste and do some videos before it got TOO insanely crowded. My friend Mary joined us for some tasting. She ships out in a few weeks, and what better send-off before she goes than to give her glass after glass of 11% beer before noon?
It’s difficult to even describe the Barleywine Festival. Best to show you:
My favorite was Firestone-Walker’s Abacus Blend, which took third place in that day’s judging. Dark and creamy, with raisin and fig aromas. Fruity and smoky tasting.
Late Harvest Wheat Wine from Valley Brewing: 50% barley, 50% wheat, aged in brandy barrels, some carrot (yes, really!…okay, it was late in the morning…) and plum flavors.
Big Nugget 2007 from Alaskan Brewing Co: bitter, light coffee aroma, butter cookie tastes (that’s what Joe says!)
Other Favorites: Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Company’s Angel’s Share 2006. This was the first one we tried, and it remained one of the best. Fig Newton smell, raisins, we all loved it.
Stone Brewing’s Old Guardian 2006: very hoppy, lots of carmel, complex yet drinkable. Joe loved it, I didn’t – was too bitter and hoppy for me. It won second place.
Beer at Joe’s Winners for Best Name: Nodding Head’s Hoptimus Prime and Russian River’s Old Gubbillygotch. Gubbillygotch wins for taste in this category, though. It had lots of orange & citrus notes, very light for a barleywine, and we all enjoyed it.