I suppose the newbies (ha! as if there are newbies!) might wonder why we call ourselves “geekbeer”. I would hesitantly say that it’s because we’re geeks that like beer. I basically code for a living, and Tom is a video game/comic book/computer hardware geek. But this is the real thing that makes us geekbeer:
Yeah, that’s Tom setting up a new, high-quality boom mic to see if we can get a good sound for the podcast over the literal roar of the propane burner. (Answer: No. Not really.)
In any case…
I can’t possibly relive Sour Beer Night in reality, since I lack a time machine, but I can provide my notes on the experience.
That’s four beers. The front one is… um… And the next one is… Hansen’s? And… Fuck. Well. Those are four of the beers we had at Sour Beer Night. I don’t promise that I was altogether sober the whole time, but I did take notes! You ready? Why would you be?
We arrived at 2pm, before they were pouring the sours. So I did the only sane thing: I bought another beer. The Pike Place Brewery Double IPA. It was decent. A malty tartness faded into a heavy, lingering hop bitterness, but the nose was light and the hop flavor was less than some standard IPAs. It was reminiscent of some IPAs I’ve brewed, and I’m not a great homebrewer! Overall, a B-level beer.
At 4pm, Matt got on the horn and released the Sour Brews to the crowd. Our waitress was a tad behind, but we got our order in. I asked for the Avery Voltron, a ridiculous blend of 5 different sours (get it? voltron?) and truly a one-of-a-kind beverage. The flavor was out of this world. There was a vinegar/champagne sourness, but there was also enough red wine that it couldn’t go unnoticed. A background of sweet malts, dark fruits, and black pepper/pine made this beer a sipping experience. Later in the evening, after my palette had been adequately soured and the Voltron had warmed on the table, this beer was sweet and figgy. This was a fantastic drink. I’d easily give it an A. Says the guy from Monk’s Cafe about this brew, “Adam’s blend of 5 barrel aged beers. One of which held Opus One - sort of a very pricey cult wine. He used two different stains of brettanomyces yeast strains. This is one great funky, sour ale. This dude is brewing the dream.” Damn straight.
Another one-of-a-kind brew that we managed to try was the Russian River Empirical 7. This is a beer that RR made for at the behest (or possibly request) of the Publican National Committee, a group made up of the owners of some of the finest beer establishments in the world. This was a mild sour that was very reminiscent of a Belgian Witbier (indeed, according to folks online at RateBeer, this was a brettified Saison). After my palette had soured on other offerings, this beer lost all of its sour character and became a rather bland witbier. I’m not sure I can adequately judge it because it was so delicate compared to the other beers we were trying that night.
At this point, our waitress came by and simply gave us three beers. She said they were mis-pours, and we were the benefactors.
Let’s set the stage for a moment: Sour beers have been available for about 20 minutes. We’ve already got 3 on the table and are sharing them. We’ve also already put in our second order because our fantastic waitress has told us that there is a 35 beer backlog at the bar. Many of the beers on tap are extremely limited editions — the Voltron and the Empirical 7 were only made in 5 barrel batches, and there are two firkins (quarter kegs!) that we want to try. Additionally, each glass cost between $5 and $9.
And our waitress walks up and hands us three more beers, just out of the blue. The flabbergastery was strong.
In any case the New Belgium Fodre 3 was one of the freebees, and it was the sourest beer on the table the whole night. Up front it was intensely vinegary with lots of citrus. Even after my palette was completely screwed up, this beer maintained its mouth-puckering qualities. I didn’t like it, but I also realize it wasn’t really brewed for me. There were others at the table who enjoyed it, like Tom!
Drake’s Cherry Imperial Stout was next on the list. I didn’t care for this too much — it was like a sour cherry ale that had been blended with a toasty, bitter stout. It was more like a passable combination of two beers than a great sour stout. As you can see from the BeerAdvocate link, though, reviews of this are extremely polarized.
At this point, I think my palette and my mind were well on their way to being gone even though we were only taking shared sips from small glasses. As a result, I’ll go through the rest of the beers that I had in a much more foreshortened fashion, since I’m not sure how well I can really give you a taste of how they tasted.
We had a brew from Cantillon that I, unfortunately, wrote down in a such a way that I cannot read the type that we had. My notes say that it was probably some kind of cherry brett or cherry lambic, since it smelled like cherries in a barnyard. It was cloudy red, and not altogether drinkable even in my then-inebriated state.
The Kriek from Hansen’s, which was one of the firkin-lodged beers, was a cherry sour. It was flat, mouth-puckering, and basically vinegar. Again a beer that Tom enjoyed that I did not. Russian River’s Deviation was a fascinating beer for me — it started with a standard Pale Ale flavor not unlike an IPA, but instead of finishing with hops, it finished sour, and clean like a pale. (It was also the beer brewed for the Bottleworks 9th Anniversary.) Russian River’s Temptation tasted basically like a belgian ale that had been soured. The other firkin housed the Allagash Confluence, which was almost exactly like Allagash’s White with a hint of sour.
I also have 6 beers for which I didn’t even bother to write down notes. They are listed on my pad under a heading that says “Palette: FUCKED.” These beers include the Gameworks 8 Year Cherry Lambic from Elysian (right here in Seattle), the Cascade Nightfall Blackberry, the New Belgium New Terrior, the Lost Abbery Cuvee de Tomme, and Cask 17 and Cask 52 from Boon.
Overall, it was a fairly incredible night, and I look forward to drinking Matt’s selections for what will hopefully be a regular Seattle Beer Week event.