Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fred Fest 2011

Fred Fest is always a blast; Saturday's celebration of Fred Eckhardt's 85th birthday at Hair of the Dog was no exception.  Perhaps fittingly, a theme that came up again and again in the beers I tried was "Age has been kind to this beer".  It was especially true of the best beer of the night, a 1998 Bourbon-barrel aged Full Sail Old Boardhead Barleywine, which was amazingly flawless so many years later.  But there were four other beers that I have tried at other times in the past year that were noticeably improved after a few months of aging:
  • Ninkasi UnconventionALE Imperial Stout: I liked this a lot at the Holiday Ale Fest in December.  Six months later it was even better, a knockout.
  • Hair of the Dog Peach Fred from the Wood Barleywine: On a December visit to the tasting room this was unremarkable, not as good as regular Fred.  Saturday it was fantastic: a beautiful blend of boozy bourbon, earthy peach, funky yeast, and bitter hops.
  • Sierra Nevada Charlie, Fred, and Ken's Helles Bock: I'd had this twice before: a small taste when Fred brought a sneak peak of it to Fred Fest 2010, and from the bottle when it was on store shelves.  It was pretty good those times, but after about a year in the keg, it's really something.
  • Lompoc Franc'ly Brewdolph barrel-aged Belgian Ale: This was tasty six months ago at the HAF and even better now: nice wine and funky yeast flavors on top of a solid Belgian.
Nicole said that bottles of the Sierra Nevada Helles Bock have improved in her cellar also.  It wouldn't have occurred to me to cellar that, but I was impressed by it Saturday.  If you happen to see any stray bottles on the shelf anywhere, don't hesitate to grab them.

Besides the five beers mentioned above, other highlights for me were:
  • Hopworks Kronan the Bourbarian barrel-aged Baltic Porter: big bourbon and dark fruit (bing cherry?) notes on top of a big delicious BP.
  • Double Mountain Fine Pimpin' Brown ale with cocoa and chiles: one of the lighter beers of the night, it was smooth, spicy, and beautiful.
  • Barley Brown's 2010 Havoc Double American Stout: completely opaque black beer: thick, rich, and bitter.
  • Midnight Sun Arctic Devil Barleywine: hot, mapley, and thick. I was a little less happy when Charles pointed out to me the acetone nose that came out when it warmed up, but it was still tasty for a giant barleywine.
If humanly possible, get yourself to Fred Fest next year.  Delicious gigantic beers, nice barbecue and other snacks included in the package, and a small, jolly crowd.  Happy 85th, Fred!

1 comment:

  1. FredFest usually happens on a weekend when a nonprofit group I'm involved with has their annual event--as happened this year. It kills me that I have to choose between them.

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