So we decided to really put the fest in Pizza Port's
2009 Belgian Beer Festival this year, and that means I have to thank all the people I knew there drinking along with me--Amy, Debby, Larry, Ken (all the way from SF, so he wins a prize), Chryss, Patrick, Robin, Kate. I also need to thank someone who helped put the Belgian beer in me. The basic set up is you pay your entrance fee and get 8 tickets for 4 oz. tastes. You can buy additional tickets. But we didn't have to as we were there for about a half hour when brewer extraordinaire Eric Rose from Hollister Brewing, who was featuring his tasty Hollister Abbey Dubbel, was on his way out, saw us, and promptly dumped a good 20 extra tickets in our hands. Than meant sampling heaven. For, as you can tell from the picture, there was no way to sample everything. (Well, you can't tell everything from the picture, as it's not detailed enough so that you can see the alcohol levels on these beers--many ran 8% or higher. Those monks don't fuck around.) There were 25 choices on tap, and another 92 in bottle. It was almost intimidating, approaching the bar--it was enough to make me feel like an AIG exec on bonus day, but I didn't have to shower my soul. And if I did, I could have showered it in something lovely like Russian River's Consecration, aged in Cabernet barrels, a winy, sour, but very dry-finishing treat. Or Ellezelloise Hercule Stout, deep and dark and earning a "wow" as my note (one of the few I can read--my handwriting in general stinks, and my guess is the beer didn't help any, either).
There were so many highlights that it might end up sounding like a kindergarten "all our kids are special" roll call. Of course you have to like the sour--I opted to open with something classic, a Rodenbach Grand Cru, which I found a complex delight, but others in our group soured on its sourness. Then there were fascinating oddballs (no, not the group I was with!) like a Baladin Al-Iksir, made in Italy, but a strong Belgian ale made with Islay whiskey yeast. Packing a surprising amount of fizz, and then more malty sweetness than I expected, which got pleasantly cut by the whiskey overtones (like a Belgian beer boilermaker with Lagavullin or something).
And we drank, and laughed, and seemed extra witty. And drank some more. Ate some pizza. Tried sips from everyone else's tastes, so got more of a handle on things that more or less slipped away as we got more. Just more. You've had Belgian beer, haven't you?
My official last beer, lucky 13, was a Pizza Port San Clemente Faceplant, as you have to end hours of drinking with a faceplant. Zippy with coriander and orange zest, it wasn't the best of the day, but at that point I wasn't probably, either.
Other beers tasted:
Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor
St. Bernardus Abt 12 (6 liter bottle)
St. Feuillien (3 liter bottle)
Russian River Beatification (3 liter bottle)
Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout
De Dolle Oerbier
Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca
Kerkom Winter King
Malheur Dark Brut
Mikkeller/De Proef Monk's Brew
Labels: beer, Belgium