After hitting Hopmonk and coming home to drink excessively on Friday night, Wes and I decided to change it up a little for Saturday Night. The plan: drink excessively in downtown Santa Rosa, then head home to BBQ, and drink excessively. In our defense, we chose very good beers to drink.
We decided to start off with the best of our beers for the night, and grabbed the bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale 2006 that Wes had brought down with him. The idea was to drink the best beers early so that we could actually enjoy them for all that they are, and not just drunkenly pound away quality beers. Having had the Stock Ale and Brown Shugga from the night before, this was a nice comparison between the Northern Californian style of brewing and the English style. Very sweet and rich, the English style is much more restained, not nearly the level of hops, alcohol, or maltiness as the two from the previous night. Does this make for a lesser brew? not at all, just for a different brew.
While drinking this, we started debating the merits of the English beer scene and the Californian and American beer scene. Wes had recently visited England and commented on how boring the beers had been. Everything was a bitter. You have less innovation in brewing, which brewers relying on tradition. Here, you have more brewers trying to distinguish themselves and having to push the envelope to do so. For example, if you brew an IPA in Sonoma County, who will pay attention? Even Double IPA are common place, and the competition is very good, if not great. So brewers keep going bigger, hopper, more intense. Obviously this trend can’t continue indefinitely, supplies and the limits of brewing just won’t allow it. I appreciate the tradition of the British breweries, but it doesn’t excite me. The Fuller’s Vintage Ale did excite me though, as it was a very good beer, and I’ll be looking for future vintages.
Next we continued on the barleywine theme and went with another beer that made the trip from Oregon, Alaskan Barleywine 2007. As if to make the counterpoint to the Fuller’s Vintage Ale, this one is bursting with flavor, hops and alcohol. This one was fantastic after only 8 months in the bottle, but I would imagine would only get better with more age. I have never seen the Alaskan Barleywine locally, but will definitely try to add this one to my closet in the next year.
Now, we couldn’t spend all day drinking Barleywine, so we decided to lighten the selection up. When I say lighten, I mean in terms of color, because this next one was by no means a light beer. The name called to Wes when browsing the cooler of Bottle Barn, and we had to add it into our weekend. I’m talking about Moylan’s Hopsickle Triple IPA. As you can see, Wes was a bit excited (and a little drunk) to get a peak at this beer. This one is very hoppy, very floral, and is rightfully one of the flagship beers to come out of Novato. The trip downtown and the barleywines before had begun to weigh on us at this point. No notes taken on this beer, Sorry folks.
The evening slowly began to unravel at this point. The BBQ featured a dry rubbed tri-tip and it was time to bring this inside and start serving dinner. Earlier in the weekend we were discussing Belgian styled beers and I found that Wes had yet to try the Three Philosophers from Ommegang. When I heard that I made sure a bottle would be around for that night and coincidentally, it matched perfectly with the meal. Rich and malty with the sweetness of the blended Kriek, I recommend anyone burning some flesh for dinner to try it along side the Three Philosophers. Beware of the almost 10% kick in this one. Man, did we drink anything that wasn’t a beast?
Next on the menu was the He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., or so it was supposed to be next. Somehow, we got caught in the Rye I.P.A. excitement and cracked a bottle of Hop Rod Rye, which was supposed to make the trip to Fresno with Wes. It wasn’t until after we finished this one that we realized the old switcheroo had taken place. I was organizing the empties to take a picture. It was while previewing the images on the camera did I notice that I didn’t have a bottle of Lenny’s R.I.P.A. in the picture, but the Hop Rod Rye. One note on this beer was that it carried a real barleywine-like feel to it. This may be the case, or it may be that our brains were soaked in the sweet high gravity ale from earlier and couldn’t be trusted.
This probably should have ended the evening, but I had been talking all weekend about the great pairing of carrot cake and IPA. I poured us three sampler glasses of Racer 5 and brought out a slice of carrot cake. My wife wanted none of it, so I was forced to drink her Racer 5. Wes resisted, but finally caved in. I’ve written about Racer 5 and carrot cake before, and will just say, it is amazing. Get the best slice of carrot cake you can find and the biggest, richest, most decadent IPA around and just enjoy.
This marked the end of our evening. As old men nearing the end of our 20’s (some closer than others), we just don’t have it in us to drink the night away. We outlasted the summer sun and that was enough of an accomplishment. While I crawled into bed, I told my wife, no beer on Sunday. It would need to be a day of rest, that was for sure.
The next morning Wes left. I kept my promise of no beer. Around 5, I got a text message from Wes. He had arrived in Fresno and was drinking an IPA.