Less hop, more subtle hints.
Last year, hops dominated the show. Double and triple IPAs, fresh hops, citrusy hops, piney hops, hops on hops! This overwhelming flavor completely wrecked our pallates in a good way, but it was nice to move towards lighter brews infused with oranges, apricots and blackberries.
Yep, many breweries had a special fruit brew that highlighted their unique take on the lighter side of brewing that they were happy to explain in detail; and education has never been so much fun. While these were a good distraction from the bold IPAs, they all leaned a bit light and we found ourselves drifting about finding a few unique favorites that just have to be highlighted. Here are a few brews we think really stood out for the night –
- Speakeasy Informer – A clean Belgian with floral notes, and a strong alehouse flavor.
- Track 7 Peanut Butter Chocolate Porter – It’s everything you think it would be but better, side note: how did they get the distinct flavor of peanuts in there?
- Sonoma Brewing Bourbon Cider – The ultimate desert cider, because sometimes you need to have a classy beer.
- Lost Coast Silver Anniversary Belgian Ale – we tapped them out of this, garnering up the very last glass of their 25th anniversary brew. It has notes of cider apples, with a sweet syrupy texture and a bittersweet finish.
- Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale – “like a baby IPA” – The pour guy.
- Hop Valley Orange Wheat – This beer is brewed with the right amount of sweet orange on the front and finished with some bitter orange near the end for a good taste without the syrupy mouthfeel. Great flavor, great aroma, great finish.
Meanwhile, out in the VIP area 4 unique beers flowed freely, mingled well with the smooth aroma of cigar smoke, because when you’re in the VIP section, you simply must smoke a stogie.
- Old Stock Ale Cellar Reserve 2011 – This brandy barrel aged barleywine has plenty of kick at 15% ABV, but has mellowed over time for a sweet and syrupy brew that goes down smooth.
- Widmer Brewing Vanilla Barrel Aged Bourbon Barrel Ale – This brew takes on the oak and caramel complexities of the bourbon barrels, with a touch of vanilla to smooth out the finish. Plan to sip the 10.7% ABV glass of goodness, but also plan on wanting a bit more when that glass is done.
- Vinta Brewing Birthday Suit Farmhouse Sour Ale – Sours are always a welcome break from hoppy brews, and this 21st anniversary beer delivers the right amount of tart to an almost sessionable 6.7%ABV.
- Timmermans Framboise Lambio – A favorite of the night, this light and fresh beer is aged 5-7 years before bottling for a clean, crisp, fruity brew that fits right in during warm summer nights.
While this great night is over, we have an amazing schedule of events lined up for the next 8 days that we can’t wait to enjoy. Take a look at what’s coming up on Saturday in our Daily Highlight, and check back often to see pictures, quotes, and our daily look-ahead on the events you won’t want to miss.