San Diego's TapRoom celebrated their 3rd Anniversary with a daunting 76 tap party that ran from 12 noon to 2 am!!. Yours truly could not hang on that long, I'm sorry to say.
I arrived at 11 am, ready to pour tasty brews for the upcoming onslaught of people....And folks it was exactly that. The place was packed! Friends, family, and patrons came out in droves to support their beloved watering hole. My station was at the taps of some of my favorite beers: Pliny the Elder, New Belgium's La Folie and Ommegang's Hennepin. (Yes, I asked to be put there!)
Despite the sky opening up and dumping literal buckets of rain on our tents, everyone had a WONDERFUL time tasting such AMAZING beers. Here are my personal highlights:
(Standing in the rain, tasting and pouring ALOT of beers did not lend itself to incredibly complex, technical notes. But you'll get the idea!)
Stone 13th Anniversary: 9.5% ABV: Aromas of caramel, light brown sugar, and hops. The finish is an assault (which I loved about it). It starts on the mid-palate and crescendos to a hoppy, bitter end. By the nose alone, you anticipate a more malty, sweet finish, with just a inkling of hops. So well crafted. This one was definitely a highlight of the day.
Alesmith Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout: 12% ABV: Boy, oh boy I was looking forward to this one. I am a big SS fan, so aged in bourbon barrels (my other liquid obsession), um yes please!! This one is a doozy. Tons of dark, dried fruit, molasses, soy, and that characteristic sweet bourbon nose. Damn, its deeeelicious.
Green Flash Grand Mantis: 9.1% ABV: A beer a thoroughly enjoyed and came back to more than once, the Grand Mantis is their Grand Cru aged in Merlot barrels. And you can tell. You nose is greeted by that trademark Merlot dark fruit, with notes of dry cocoa, mild brett, and a definite dose of oak. That woodiness continues on the palate, with a nice dry finish.
The Bruery Saison de Lente: 6.5% ABV: I am a BIG fan of the Rue Saison and The Bruery, so I was extra interested to try this one... A fuller nose here, with more weight on the palate. Still with the characteristic apricot and pepper, this one has a unexpected hoppy finish
North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin: 11.2% ABV: Hello chocolate! Tons of it on the palate, with a sweet finish. Think chocolate-covered raisins. This is NOT a beer to take or drink lightly. Serve and imbibe as you would a port. Would be lovely with a rich, chocolate dessert, or as your final course itself!
Alesmith '09 Decadence: 9% ABV: I love it. My first time with this beer was back in New Orleans for another big tasting. Back then I described it as a 'brown sugar and caramel blanket'. On draft, tons of the dried fruit (fig, date) aromas emerge, with a hint of banana on the palate, a characteristic I normally am not a big fan of. But here it was seamlessly melded into the framework, and worked beautifully. Excellent beer.
Green Flash Super Freak: 9% ABV: Barnyard, hay, band-aid (Yep, there's some brett in there!). On the second try, lots of floral aromatics emerge. This funky beer is their LeFreak aged in wine barrels with guess what....As a fan of LeFreak already, it wasn't hard to enjoy this one.
Ommegang Hennepin: 7.7% ABV: Always a favorite of mine, with its vibrant apricot and tree fruit aromas, with that dose of yeast, and a little pepper. This one goes down frightfully easy.
Rogue John John Dead Guy: 6% ABV: This one is their Dead Guy aged in whisky barrels. But with a still a fairly low ABV, this one does not have all those boozy notes that so many stouts pick up. I'm assuming the hop level counteracts that. Instead, it retrieved spicy notes from the barrel. Imagine standing in the spice row of an outdoor market in the Far East. That's it!
Bear Republic Racer X: 8.9% ABV: Mmmm yes. Well done Bear Republic! Having already wowed us all with their fantastic Racer 5, the guys at Bear Republic decided to up the ante and make a Double IPA, aptly called X. The most interesting thing about this brew? The hops decide to come out and play a full 15-30 seconds AFTER the finish!! Its a great surprise waiting for you. Enjoy this one if you can get your hands on it.
Ballast Point Barrel-Aged 3 Sheets Barleywine: 9% ABV: Caramel, citrus, and dried fruit. Having already tasted this at the brewery, and loving it, I knew I just had to have another go at it!
Lost Abbey Angel's Share: 12.5% ABV: Holy booze and raisin! Aromas and flavors of bourbon, dark brown sugar, dried fruit (date and raisin) To be revisited down the road apiece, with my recently purchased bottle. Like the Old Rasputin, do NOT attempt to drink on your own. Share and serve as you would a port.
Alpine Exponential Hoppiness: 11% ABV: You guessed it. It's HOPPY. Bright, vibrant citrus and pine aromas. Grapefruit, with some baked bread notes. The alcohol is balanced and not insanely bitter, like I expected. Well done. Quite drinkable, EXCEPT that pesky 11% ABV. Be warned.
Ballast Point Tongue Buckler: 10% ABV: This baby has 100 IBU's so out of respect for my palate, I saved this one til near the end. One of the most interesting beers of the day, hands down. Melon and cantaloupe on the nose, fruit, flowers and caramel(which become richer and more prominent as it warms). A good balanced hoppiness, with less biting bitterness than many beers with less IBU's. Well done Ballast Point!
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA on cask: I LOVE this beer. On cask, without the forced carbonation, the aromas and flavors you know and love with Sculpin, are more focused and rounded. This one, of course was a huge hit.
and the FINAL BEER OF THE NIGHT FOR ME?
The one and only Russian River Supplication: 7.75.% ABV: This is a beer I dream about at night. This is the beer I waited patiently all day to be tapped. It's so good and sour and delicious and satisfying and addictive. It's wicked.