Today is my friend and colleague Marty Jones’ birthday, though how old the eternally young Mr. Jones may be is anybody’s guess. In addition to beer journalist, Marty is administrator of the Beer Drinker of the Year Contest, a musician, and much else. Join me in wishing Marty a very happy birthday.
Yesterday was the 20th annual Toronado Barleywine Festival, the original SF Beer Week event, that predates our beer week by fifteen years. I arrived a little late, sad to say, because Porter had his little league tryouts in the morning, but for at least the fourth year in a row, my luck held. When I arrived, it was already in full swing.
The table already had a full compliment of all forty barley wines. Since Sean was looking to go roaming himself, I graciously agreed to take over table babysitting duties, which allowed me the opportunity to try every one of this year’s barley wines.
There were some very good, even great, ones, of course, and a number of decent beers, and a few that weren’t as good as one might have hoped.
But over all, I think my favorite barley wine of the day was Mad River’s John Barleycorn, which in many ways has become the epitome of an American-style barley wine for me, and seems to get better every year. Other stand-outs included Heretic’s Dead Weight, Moylan’s Old Blarney, Drake’s Jolly Roger and Anderson Valley’s Horn of the Beer. I also enjoyed Bear Republic’s Old Scoutter’s 2010, Berryessa’s Cliff’s Fiscal and Widmer’s Old Embalmer.
The back room, which is normally only used for special events (and Washoe’s) was configured in a new way this year, which seemed to allow more people to taste, with one side having long picnic tables and the other a place to stand and try the beers with a long table running the length to hold multiple barley wines. This also made the middle wider and easier to traverse than in previous years.
All in all, another great beer festival, with some spectacular barley wines. But if you didn’t get a chance to go on Saturday, don’t dispair, the barley wines will be there at least until Monday, and some will probably be hanging around a little longer, until they run out.
Today is Wendy Littlefield’s 57th birthday. Wendy, along with her husband, runs the Belgian export company Vanberg & DeWulf. Their portfolio includes such great beer lines as Dupont, Castelain and Dubuisson (Bush). They were also the original founders of Brewery Ommegang. Two years ago was their 30th anniversary of being involved in the beer industry and bringing great beer to America. Plus, they’re great fun to hang out and drink with. Join me in wishing Wendy a very happy birthday.
Wendy, Don Feinberg and Greg Engert at a Vanberg & DeWulf tasting in Washington, D.C. (photo by Chuck Cook)
NOTE: Photos purloined from Vanberg & DeWulf’s website and Facebook.