Thursday, February 23, 2012

Barleywine, Barleywine Everywhere, So Let's All Have A Drink

It's barleywine season - one of my favorite beer times of year.  I've always been a fan of good barleywines, so I'm really looking forward to both the 10th Annual 'Barleywine Bacchanal' at Beveridge Place Pub, and the 10th Annual 'Hard Liver Festival' at Brouwer's Cafe

First up is the 10th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal at Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle.  This is a popular beer destination in the Seattle area, so if you've never been there I urge you to head on over to West Seattle and check them out.  It's well worth the trip across the West Seattle bridge. 

Bacchus by Michelangelo

So what is a 'Bacchanal', you ask?  A Bacchanal or Bacchanalia were "wild and mystic festivals of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus (or Dionysus), the wine god. The term has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry."  Sounds good to me. 

The lineup for this year's Bacchanal includes, but is not limited to:
Alaskan Barleywine ‘08, ’09 & ‘10
Anacortes Old Sebastes ’08, ’09 & ‘10
Anchor Old Foghorn ‘11
Anderson Valley Horn of the Beer ’11
Avery Hog Heaven ’11
Beer Valley ’11
Big Al ’10 & ‘11
Big Sky Old Blue Hair ’11
Black Raven Old Birdbrain ’11
Boulder Killer Penguin ’09, ‘11
Boundary Bay Old Bounder ’10
Deschutes Mirror Mirror ’09
Diamond Knot Icebreaker ’10
Dick’s Barleywine ’11
Elliott Bay Old Portside ’09
Elysian Cyclops ’11
Firestone Walker Abacus ‘11
Fish 10 Squared ’11
Fremont Barleywine ’11
Full Sail Old Boardhead ’08
Full Sail Old Boilermaker ‘09
Great Divide Old Ruffian ’10 & ’11
Hale’s Rudyard’s Rare ‘11
Hopworks Urban Brewery Noggin Floggin ’09 & ‘11
Hood Canal Breidablik ‘10
Left Hand Oak Aged Widdershins ’10
Mad River John Barleycorn ’07
North Coast Old Stock ’10 & ‘11
Pike Old Bawdy ’08, ’09, ’10 & ‘11
Port Townsend ’10
Scuttlebutt Old #1 ’09
Seven Seas Wheelchair ’11
Sierra Nevada Black Barleywine ’10
Snipes Mountain Roza ’10
Speakeasy Old Godfather ’09
Stone Old Guardian ’08, ’09 & ‘10
Wingman Barleywing ‘11

I like that they've tried to incorporate some 'vertical' tastings here.  Four of the barleywines on that list will have at least three vintage years represented, and a few more have at least two vintages.  I'm looking forward to trying quite a few of these - and might have to do the vertical tasting for Stone, Alaskan, and Pike - with four vintages.  I'd better find a designated driver! 

Just one week later over at Brouwer's Cafe is the 10th Annual Hard Liver Festival.  I never miss this event, and this year will be no exception.  There's always a line for this festival too, so if don't want to wait outside after opening time, or if you are intent on finding a seat rather than standing, I suggest you get there early. 

Here is just a small part of the lineup that will be on hand for Hard Liver '12:
Alaskan Big Nugget '09 & '10
Anacortes Old Sebastes
Anchor Old Foghorn '10
Big Sky Old Blue Hair'11
Deschutes Mirror Mirror '09 & '10
Dogfish Head Old School
Emelisse Jack Daniels Barrel Aged
Firestone Walker(beer formerly know as Abucus) '11 ('11 is still 'Abacus' - the '12 one will be '§ucaba')
Great Divide Old Ruffian '10
Lagunitas too many years to list -we will pick one or two for the festival
Lost Abbey Angel's Share
Pike Old Bawdy '11
Rogue Old Crustacean'11
Speakeasy Old Godfather'09
Stone Old Guardian -too many years to list- we will pick one or two for the festival.

With a great start like this, I'm eager to see the rest of the list.  Brouwer's always does a great job with this festival, and they always have some good food to accompany the barleywines. 

Since I like to try as many different offerings as possible, I never start out this festival (or the Barleywine Bacchanal) on an empty stomach.  Pacing yourself is important, and starting on an empty stomach could be disastrous. 

In preparation for these upcoming events, I stopped by Super Deli Mart in West Seattle on my way home yesterday to pick up a few barleywines.  They have Sierra Nevada Bigfoot '10, '11 & '12, and I also picked up some Old Foghorn from Anchor Steam, some Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing, and a few others.  Incidentally, Super Deli is also featuring Seirra Nevada beers on their right now.  I had a delicious pint of their Ovila Quadruple - a Belgian Abbey Quadruple, while I was there. 

It should be a great time at these festivals, but due to the 'high octane' of barleywine, I urge you all to use caution.  It can be easy to get carried away when you're tasting so many great examples of the style, so make sure you plan ahead.  Take a bus, have a designated driver, or make other arrangements to make sure you can get home safely. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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