Once again our yearly BOTB Blast was held at Clark's Cottages in Port Ontario, NY. And once again it was a great day of fun, food, music and, of course, beer. Early June in Central New York can be tricky weather-wise - you could have temperatures in the 50's or in the 90's. There could be clouds, rain, sleet, hail, or bright sunshine. Luckily we had the the sunshine and temps in the 70's.
The day started out with golf at Steamside - captain and mate. The top finishers all received some bottles of beer compliments of Sam Adams and bottle openers compliments of Saranac. If you're interested, the results were:
First Place: Tim Hart and Dan Riley - winning a round of golf at Streamside, 4 tickets to the Boxing Hall of Fame and a six pack of Sam Adams.
Second Through Seventh Place: Received a sixer of Sam and a Saranac bottle opener.
Closest to the Pin: Chris Courtwright - 2 sleeves of balls
Longest Drive: Nate Hart - 7 wood golf club
Back at Port Ontario we had mountains of great food and a firkin of Middle Ages 19th Anniversary Imperial IPA from Middle Ages Brewing. The beer, available now at the brewery, was absolutely awesome. The firkin returned empty. The afternoon was rounded out with some Beer Club Trio sing-along, including, of course, Beer Run. All in all, a great time was had by all.
Heading to San Francisco. Waiting in the Syracuse airport. Noticed that there is a Saranac pub here now. Cool. Unfortunately, no time to grab a beer.
After hitting four wineries in the Napa Valley on Friday and Saturday - touring and tasting at each - we stopped at Laguinitas Brewery on our way to Los Gatos on Sunday. While I certainly enjoyed the wine (I felt a little like the Thomas Haden Church character in Sideways - pretty much saying "Hmm, I like this" to every one I tried) I soon began to long for the beautifully bitter bite of a bountifully hopped-up brew.
|Looking For Mr. GoodBeer|
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant and brewery on Saturday, but the best beer they produced was a Red Ale that was just okay - the others were mostly German lager types, but pretty bland. So I was really looking forward to Laguinitas. Unfortunately I was the only beer drinker of the four of us - I believe the others suffered my desire to visit the brewery with good grace. I longed to compare notes and opinions with the other BOTB Guys while we made our way through the taps.
The place is very laid-back, done in a kind of disheveled chic with lots of outdoor seating and a funky vibe. The walls of the bar area are plastered with quirky, clever signs and posters. I only had time for a couple of beers while we had lunch. I started out with a delicious Laguinitas Sucks which I personally prefer to their regular IPA. Sadly they were out of Hop Stoopid so I then had a Little Sumpin' Sumpin'. I realized I had seen that around for a while, but had never actually tried it. I took a chance on it even though it is a wheat beer. But the guys there said it was a really hopped up. It was surprisingly good. And stood up well even after Laguinitas Sucks (which it doesn't, by the way).
Back in Black is a nice, hoppy IBA with some really rich, chocolate notes to it. Liked it a lot. Big Daddy is an outstanding IPA loaded with that big grapefruit/pine aroma and taste you expect from a West Coast IPA. (Brought back a bomber of Speakeasy's Vendetta IPA - also quite awesome.) Sorry we can't seem to get Speakeasy brews back East. Very impressive beer.
Tried to get to Anchor Brewing. Anchor arguably was the first brewery to experiment with beers to challenge mega-brew lager/pilsner taste profile that prevailed in the U.S. since the end of WWII. Their Liberty Ale, brewed in 1975 to celebrate the bicentennial of Paul Revere's ride, was the first IPA brewed in
Got home and had a Back in Black to commiserate.
Back in Los Gatos, stopped in at the Los Gatos Brewery. This is a small brew pub that doesn't bottle. Had their Cask - Firkin Fuggel Ale (Extra Special Bitter) which was quite tasty.
Later had their Oatmeal Stout - also very good.
However, the good news was we did
make it to a brewery (other than Los Gatos Brewery) called Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Half Moon Bay is a little community south of San Francisco, located near a surfing mecca known as Mavericks, where giant waves form due to the unique geologic shape of the sea floor and shoreline there. The brewery is just outside the town near the village of Princeton-By-The-Sea. Their beers are brewed under the moniker Maverick's Beers and Ales. It's a relatively small brew pub, but they both bottle and can many of their beers for sale at the pub. I was unable to locate them anywhere else for sale. They also have a constantly changing line-up of beers on tap. I have found at many such smaller production breweries that there is a tendency to brew "to the middle." In other words, to brew beers that fit into that middle ground that does not stray too far from the German lager taste profile found in the big brews. I've had IPA's that, in my humble opinion, are not deserving of the name. So it was with some trepidation that I ordered up a flight of three intriguing brews (plus a fourth I had the opportunity to taste) and I was pleasantly surprised. I tried the following beers:. Back in the Saddle Rye Pale Ale, Princeton-By-The-Sea IPA, Earl Triple IPA, and Damage Inc. Imperial Stout. I jotted down my impressions of each as I drank them. Here's what I found:
Back in the Saddle Rye Pale Ale - 3.75% ABV; 29 IBUs; Nice pale ale with very low ABV. More bitter than I expected from the 29 IBUs. Nice crisp, dry finish. Make a great golf beer, boat beer, session beer.
Princeton-By-The-Sea IPA - 6.1% ABV; 62 IBUs; Brewed with Cascade, Centennial, Chinook hops with Simcoe for bittering; Terrific IPA. Nice grapefruit aroma that comes through on the taste buds as well. Nicely balanced but not
Earl Triple IPA - 11.1% ABV; 150 IBUs!; Alright, so there's a little bit of wink and a nudge that goes along with the 150 IBUs label here. Nonetheless, this is a big, hoppy beer. There's a very solid alcohol presence without being overpowering. It's pleasantly warming, full bodied with a big bitter bite. There's a real pleasing aftertaste that to me was reminiscent of a nice scotch.
Damages Inc. Imperial Stout - 10.4% ABV; 82.5 IBUs; I have to say, one of the best Imperial Stouts I've ever had. The taste of full, rich deep dark chocolate hit first with pleasing coffee undertones. Toffee, caramel and cocoa flavors also intermingled nicely. What really sets this apart is the fact that it is not cloyingly sweet as some Imperials can be. It makes for a wonderful dessert beer.
The BOTB Guys