Yep, it was as good as advertised. You can see some pictures from the weekend here. It all started with the Big Wood Festival at Brouwer’s on Thursday. Then on Saturday, we spent a couple of hours early at the Washington Winter Beer Festival before heading to our friends’ house for a Stone Vertical Epic tasting. There were many highlights from the festivals, but these two breweries made me the happiest:
Hair of the Dog – I’ve been smitten with Alan Sprints’ beers since I first tried them years ago, but things just continue to get better. Bourbon Fred From the Wood, Matt, BOB (a new lambic poured here for the first time), and the firkin of Michael were the talk of Big Wood. Alan was on hand to tap the firkin himself, and all of his beers were gone by the end of the first night. I think it’s safe to say that Seattle beer drinkers are gonzo for HOTD. Any aspiring brewers should look at their diverse lineup of unique beers as a model of how to stand out in the NW market; there is just no one that compares.
Black Raven – This new brewery in Redmond, WA is for real, if you haven’t noticed yet. Two of my favorite beers of the weekend were their Pour les Oiseux Viogner Barrel Saison at Big Wood, and their Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort at the Winter Beer Festival (awesome!), which won first place in the People’s Choice Awards at the festival. The spiced keg of Trickster IPA at the Winter Beer Fest was also tasting great. The Eastside should be ecstatic to have them around.
Remember, these were my highlights…it’s not like I came even close to tasting 15% of all the beer that was available combined at the two festivals…
As for the Stone Vertical tasting, a huge thanks to our friends Gibson & Ellen for putting it together. We sampled the 030303 through 090909 vintages; we were only missing that elusive 0202o2 from the original release. Overall, it was quite the tasting and a rare chance to sample these vintages side-by-side. I’d have to say that there were quite a few surprises. None of the beers were awful or had gone sour from the years. They were all amazingly different, as you probably realize if you’ve ever read the descriptions of each individual beer. As for the favorites, it was really a matter of preference. I think maybe four of the different vintages garnered votes for individual taster’s favorites, with the 080808 getting the most (it was my favorite).