Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2008 Anchor Trip: Part 3: Judging The Toronado Barleywine Fest

(click pics to make 'em big)

Even though Amy and I tossed back many a Hop Crisis, we were smart and declined to continue on with our gang to Magnolias (one Falcon reported not remembering the trip!). Why? Because we had to be up bright and early to judge the 2008 Toronado Barleywine Festival!. I was judging and she was stewarding. I was working the second round, which didn't get started until 10:30 am. Before we got up north, I asked judge coordinator Mr. Wigglesworth (real name, honest) if it would be the end of the world if Amy didn't show up until I had to judge. Turned out it was in fact the end of the world. Despite our worst efforts, we made it to Lower Haight by 8:30 am.

Above is the scene outside the Toronado at 8:30 in the morning. Doors didn't open until 11:00 am. Those are some dedicated pre-drunks. I didn't get any photos (because I was frightened to haul my camera into the Toronado at full capacity) but what lots of folks were doing was getting a gaggle of drinkers together and ordering all 50 B-wines at once. That way, as a team, they can just sit there and drink. $3 a glass equates to $150 split 4-6 ways. I love that.

Here's the scene at 9:30 am. The natives are lining up.

Mere minutes before the second round of judging, figure just about 10:30 am. The restless natives are even more so.

I'm glad that great beer is spreading beyond the gut & facial hair set and attracting other castes of devotees. Even if Chaos UK-style punkerism is a tad silly. Still, getting your hair to do that before noon on a Saturday? Our inappropriate quasi-beer-related hat off to you sir!

D'oh! Spoke too soon. Hey, it's a beer judging. You gots to be comfortable, right?

Here's Amy cutting up the bread. I'd call her "poor Amy," except for the fact that Dave Messink -- who was chopping up the bread with her -- sliced his finger open so I had to take over for him. Didn't suck, but didn't rule, either.

Why, it's former Falcons Prez Jerry Macala looking every inch of his lady killer self. Jerry was supposed to hop a cab with us to Anchor after the judging, but he wound up ordering all 50 Barleywines with his Santa Barbeerian cohorts while Amy and I were abducted by an Englishman. It must be pointed out that after judging and tasting, Jerry still managed to show up at Anchor. Amazing.

Let's get down to the beers. My crew had 9 to slog through, including:

  • Triple Rock Odyssey Ale 2006
  • Fullsail Brewing Company Old Boardhead 1995 (sadly, totally oxidized)
  • Alaskan Brewing Big Nugget 2007
  • Snake River Devil's Teat
  • Bear Republic Olde Scoutters 99-07
  • Devil Mountain Barley Wine 1994 (This one proved to be quite controversial. All three of us agreed that the beer we were served (from a pitcher) was infected. In the previous round, this beer had placed first in two panels. Our steward alerted another steward, who got in touch with someone at the top and they tasted it. Infected. Apparently, we got the dregs of the keg and the yeast was just gnarly. However, if we were judging Imperial Flanders Reds...)
  • Green Flash Barleywine 2007 (all three of us agreed this would do better as a DIPA. Friggin' San Diego)

The two beers that we sent on to the final table were a Mexican B-wine from a brewery called Cucupa (it made the final 7 and placed in 2007) and Lagunitas Gnarlywine 2006, which wound up taking first place over all. The Gnarleywine was an American Barleywine, whereas the Cucupa was more English. Both were fantastic and really stood out from the others we judged. First runner up was Stone Old Guardian 2006 and second runner up was Firestone Walker Abacus Blend. And yes, next year I really want to sit at the final table.

Look at all that excellent stuff...

Dang. Thanks for reading!


Dano Brocchini said...

This was my first year judging the event, and it was a blast. And it's nice to know I fit well into the "gut & facial hair" set. And yes, comfort is key, hence the kilt! If you don't mind, I'd like to copy that photo of me and post it to my own club website.

Thanks again, and wear kilts! They're fun!

Dano Brocchini
President, Modesto Mashers

Jonny Lieberman said...


Of course, feel free to use the any and all pictures. A link back to this blog is all I ask.

Cheers, and it was indeed a blast!