Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hard Liver X

Just three days from today, Brouwer's Cafe will kick off their 10th Annual Hard Liver Festival.  This barleywine festival is one of several annual festivals Brouwer's puts on throughout the year.  Some of the others include:
  • Hopfest- Featuring all hoppy beers and a menu to match with items like Kangaroo, Rabbit, Frogs Legs, etc.
  • Big Wood- Featuring all wood-aged beers.
  • Sour Fest- Featuring all sour beers/lambics/etc.
I'm still trying to develop more of a taste for the sours.  I can definitely see the appeal and there are some sours I really like, but some of them can really do a number on my palate!  I usually always attend Hard Liver, Big Wood and Hopfest, though I think Hard Liver is the one I look forward to the most.  As much of a hophead as I am, I really do love a good barleywine, and I've been having a great time over at Beveridge Place Pub - attending three days so far of their 10th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal, which ends this Thursday. 

Last year's Hard Liver Festival was great, with the winners being:
  1. Anacortes Old Sebastes '10 - Anacortes Brewery, Anacortes, WA. 
  2. Anderson Valley Horn of the Beer '09 - Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, CA.
  3. Glacier Brew House Old Woody '10 - Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage, AK.
You can see the full tap list from last year's festival HERE.  This year, I'm fortunate to be judging, so I'll have at least some say in which selections from this year's tap list will be declared the winner(s).  However, that also means I won't know which barleywines I'm drinking until after the judging is complete.  Of course, that's a sacrifice I'm quite willing to make. 

Many people may not realize this, but Brouwer's Cafe has not yet been open for ten years.  In fact, they've only been open for just under seven years, launching on March 24th, 2005.  If that's the case, however, then how can this be the 10th Annual Hard Liver Festival? 

It all began in 2002, when two friends, Matt Bonney (Brouwer's Cafe's Operations Manager) and Matt Vandenberghe, decided to launch the Hard Liver Festival as a non-profit event held at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association, knowing they planned to open a bar in the future.  And even though Brouwer's hasn't quite been open for seven years yet, this will be the 8th Hard Liver festival held at Brouwer's rather than at Phinney Ridge.  According to Matt Bonney, "We were so excited about having Hard Liver at Brouwer's that somehow we have had 8 in seven years.. Crazy.."  Crazy indeed, but my kind of crazy! 

So if you missed any of the Barleywine Bacchanal over at Beveridge Place, or you're just a barleywine lover like me, make your way down to Brouwer's Cafe this Saturday, March 3rd at 11:00AM.  That's the 'official' start time, but through experience I've learned that there is always a line for this festival. 

Last year, I got to Brouwer's at 9:30AM and was about the 25th person in line.  Yes, the line starts that early.  So get up early, have a good breakfast (you do not want to start drinking barleywine on an empty stomach), and I'll see you down at Brouwer's on Saturday.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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