Thursday, May 15, 2008

Self-Inflicted Beery Nostalgia

I held a golden ticket to consume much golden brew, plus some amber, some red, and some pitchy porter and stout. Amy's family and I (all usual hosannas for in-laws cooler than I deserve once again apply) went up to Mendocino County as we try to do yearly, 5 people, 6 dogs, and a deep deep thirst. It's a land of milk and honey, except for milk insert beer and for honey insert wine. We attended the 10th Boonville Beer Festival two years ago and it was the best beer fest of our lives, and that says something--we do quite a few fests.

That means we were sort of set up for disappointment--how can you beat the best? Turns out the fest gets more popular each year, which makes sense as it's one of the few that lets you drink as much as you'd like--no pull off tabs on your wrist bracelet, no tickets, just you, a taster cup, 50 craft brewers with at least 2 brews each, and 3 hours under the redwoods. That growing popularity means this year a rumored 6500 people ran about the Mendo County Fairgrounds. To give you some perspective, the town of Boonville itself has a population of 1370. It's sort of the invasion of the beer snatchers.

Despite there being much more of a crush getting to the beers, the fest was still a hoppy place to be. All our favorites were there, from Alpine to Russian River, which actually wasn't very far as the two breweries were pouring right next to each other. It's that kind of wonderful, like seeing the Mekons and Yo La Tengo on a double bill (don't hate me, I have, for free in Central Park). Very few even mediocre beers got tasted (Bear Republic had some one-off that wasn't wonderful), but lots of wonderful stuff got drunk. (Like us!) Seriously, we paced ourselves, had a picnic table to chill at and eat chips and salsa by, and we got to enjoy the bands, including one drinking/semi-marching group that did a bit of everything, even if we missed a supposedly splendid "Miserlou." (Go bug Tom at If I Ran the Zoo about that, as he saw it.)

As for highlights beyond the obvious--like North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on tap is inconceivably better than it is the bottle, when it's just damned good--there was the run of deliciousness at Lagunitas. A Gnarly Wine that packed a serious punch yet kept its balance, which was a darn good thing since the pourers went well beyond the taster's suggested fill line. And their anniversary beer from last year, Lucky 13, that was so appreciated they made a batch again this year. And we were all lucky.

Yeah, it was this crowded, but people let you through. Until the beer started running out well before the festival's finish at 5 pm. That meant people piled towards the few folks with stuff to pour, and our bunch joined one last rugby scrum to get at something different Port had that wasn't Port's best, but we fought for it so enjoyed it anyway.

And in the meantime Amy and I are still drinking the growlers we brought back from Russian River as we stopped on the way home, even if it's a bit of a drive...oh, 7 hours, from Santa Rosa to Santa Barbara. For Pliny the Elder and Damnation, that's nothing.

P.S. The entry's title is a hint as to my reading material for the trip, and I'll get to a review of that someday soon, too.



Blogger Amy said...

yay beer!
more beer!
woo-hoo beer!
(my three cheers for beer).

12:49 PM  
Blogger Mike said...


And to think I was in the Bay Area a couple days later.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Amy, I think you're cheer should be poem of the month somewhere (hopefully somewhere near a brewpub).

12:20 PM  

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