Archive for March, 2012

Ruthlessly Awesome

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I love seasonal beers. I look forward to many offerings from Anchor, Anderson Valley, Ballast Point and of course, Sierra Nevada. This year, Sierra fired off a new one called Ruthless Rye. We’re coming to the end of it’s seasonal run this month and I wanted to write up a quick post about it, as it is an outstanding brew! I’ve always enjoyed brewing with Rye. It lends a earthy, spicy note like no other grain. Sierra balances that with a variety of hops including Chinook, Citra and their own “experimental hops” that (I’m guessing) come from their back yard hop garden up there in Chico. I’ve been knocking these down with reckless abandon, expecting the inevitable loss for the 8 months or so until it returns to the shelves.

The hop aroma is present but not as overwhelming as a Racer 5, Hop Rod or other big IPAs and the bitterness, while present, doesn’t overwhelm the malt character. I’m guessing this was done to showcase the rye instead of burying it with an avalanche of “C-hops”. The malt character is spicy and rich with a bit of roasty flavor from the chocolate malt, but completely balanced on the hops. Even at the 6.6% ABV, there’s no harsh fusel alcohol flavors and unless some of that spice is coming from the yeast, it’s fermented very clean, but not so dry as to lose any of that killer malt character. At that level of boozy goodness you wouldn’t expect this to be a session beer, and I guess it’s not… for the lesser of constitution. But like it’s bigger cousin, Torpedo, before I know it, I find myself three rounds or so in when my friends are hanging out. Oh well…

It’s still around for a few more weeks, so grab up a couple of 12-packs!

16th Anual Boonville Beer Festival – May 12th, 2012!

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Now that we’re coming to the end of what I wouldn’t technically call “winter” we must begin planning the anual pilgrimages to the beer and music festivals! For me, the pinnacle of the beer fest scene is The Boonville Beer Festival, hosted by the good people at Anderson Valley Brewing Company on May 12 this year. It’s just a one day event starting at noon on May 12th and going until 4-ish, which sounds short if you’ve not been, so let me explain: If you know what you’re doing (and I know what I’m doing) you show up Thursday evening, or Friday morning with camping gear in hand to score the best spots (camping’s $10/night and you’re welcome to start on Wednesday if you like). You then begin to notice your fellow campers are starting to set up their mobile bars and clipping in the homebrew kegs. Thus begins the festival inside the festival (festival inception, if you will). You’ll spend friday wandering around camp, sampling some beers from the nicer campers and meeting fellow beer enthusiasts. You can also wander down the street to the brewery and take a tour, or over to the Buckhorn Saloon, where you can get nearly all the AVB Co’s brews on tap with the added bonus of some serious A+ pub grub.

The Festival itself is a who’s who of California craft brewers. In past years, over 80 breweries have participated in the insanity, representing brewers from San Diego to Humbolt. For the price of admission (usually around $40) you get a tasting glass and unlimited tastings. The event area is huge, meandering all over the fairgrounds with the a live music stage and plenty of merch tents everywhere. The food is far better than your average $7 hotdog festival chow – if you’re a carnivore, do try to find the tri-tip sammich tent – just wow. Now you might think, “Only four hours… how much can I possible taste in four hours?” Well by the look of a good number of festival-goers around 3:30… quite a bit. As always with these types of parties, there are plenty who over do it, which provides for the entertainment portion of the evening – watching these folks play the timeless game of, “where’s my tent?”, or “Hey, that’s my girlfriend!!”

I’m not going to lie to you, Sunday can be rough, but honestly, you knew the risks going in. It’s a Bahl Hornin’ good time!