Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Experience At The 10th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal

Yesterday, I attended the opening day of the 10th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal at Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle.  I had a great time hanging out with a few new friends, including Dan Swanson from Thirsty In Seattle, and Josh and Risha Sanderson from the South Sound Beer Advocate Posse.  Cheers!  

More than 40 barleywines will be pouring throughout the festival, and yesterday I took a crack at 12 of the first 24 available selections:

The Tap List For Day 1

I did my best to try offerings I haven't had before, though I did have to grab myself a Firestone Walker Abacus '11 (#17).  It's one of my favorites.  My other choices from the list above included (by number): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, 22 & 24

The Barleywine Menu For The Bacchanal

My First Taster Tray

The standouts for me included:

Emelisse '11:
This was the one European barleywine I sampled (From Emelisse Brouwerij & Restaurant in the Netherlands).  It had a pleasant, honeysuckle and light citrus aroma and was well balanced with an almost pilsner malt type character, notes of graham cracker and a clean finish.

Big Al Ol' No. 1 '11:
Big Al's offering also had some graham cracker notes and an aroma reminiscent of Chinese almond cookies.  With a medium-light body and notes of what seemed like candi sugar, it was very pleasant and easy drinking.  

Black Raven Old Birdbrain '10:
This one had a light citrus/piney hop aroma and a complex caramel malt character.  Well balanced with notes of Cognac.

Fish 10 Squared '11:
If you like a hoppy barleywine, this is the one to go for.  With a strong citrus/Cascade hop aroma and a pleasing grapefruit hop flavor, with enough caramel malt character to back it up, this is the barleywine at this Bacchanal for the hopheads.

Firestone Walker Abacus '11:
This is one of my favorites, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have it again.  It has a deep ebony/ruby hue with a wonderful oak/bourbon aroma with other spicy notes.  Toffee, oak, vanilla and a faint hop bitterness are all balanced well.  This one is a joy to drink.  If you haven't tried it before, I recommend picking up a bottle.  As of 2012, Abacus is now known as §ucaba (Abacus backwards).

Fremont Snuggle Bunny '11:
I really wanted to like this one.  I'm a fan of Fremont Brewing's beers and with a name like 'Snuggle Bunny'? Well, I was expecting a pleasing experience.  I'm sorry to say, it was not.  I had to ask for confirmation from the other's at my table if I was the only one who got an aroma of Windex.  My sense of smell was confirmed.  The first sip was cloyingly sweet, with just a bit of bitter orange-peel type flavor.  I'm hoping it was just a bad keg, but this was the only one of the day I just couldn't finish.

Wingman Barleywing '11:
I'm not all that familiar with Wingman's beers, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  This one was probably my most pleasant surprise of the day and perhaps my favorite of the day behind Abacus.  It had a light, woody and almost cola-like aroma with a really complex flavor including notes of light wood, raisins and dates, some very light citrus and just the right amount of smoke.

Events Through Thursday

So those were my highlights from my selections for the kickoff of this year's Bacchanal.  I'll have to head back again, as there are still plenty of barleywines that haven't been tapped yet.  Beveridge Palce has Bacchanal events lined up through Thursday (See image above).  So pick a night and make your way out to West Seattle.  It's good 'practice' for the Hard Liver fest next Saturday, March 3rd at Brouwer's Cafe.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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