|March 16, 2008|
I attended the fourth annual Keene Tasting, traditionally held the day after the Hard Liver Barleywine Fest, a private marathon tasting held at Brouwer’s Cafe in Seattle, Washington. This is a record of the first half of the tasting, because I only made it that far through before having to bow out. Perhaps someone who made it to the end can fill in the second half for me.
Before the tasting, people were checking out what would be in the day’s lineup, including my friend and colleague Don Scheidt (on the right).
The owners of Brouwer’s Cafe, Bonney and Vern, spent the previous year squirreling away 150 beers for the day’s marathon tasting.
And bottles were strewn everywhere in anticipation of being enjoyed. We were all like kids in a candy store.
Bonney began the day with a breakfast beer, a coffee stout from Southern Tier in upstate New York.
The tasters who managed to arrive on time for the eleven o’clock start.
An early favorite, Old Salty from the now defunct Heavyweight Brewing in New Jersey. Rumor has it that Tom Baker, Heavyweight’s owner, is almost set to open his next venture, a brewpub.
Dr. Bill and Matt Bonney.
Imagine the hue and cry if they tried to import this label to the U.S.
Don Scheidt acted as scribe, and wrote down each beer as we sampled them.
A great name for a bubbly beer, this one from the fine Brazilian brewery Eisenbahn.
With corked beer, Bonney had perfected a technique to shoot them across the room, sending at least one out the far window.
Larry Bell’s 7,000th batch, from a few years ago.
Break time, with the hungry hoards descending on a cheese and meat foccacia concoction that was heavenly. Later we also had gourmet corn dogs that were hand-made.
Another Bell’s beer, but I love this label.
Not all the beer we had were bottled. This one came in a 2-liter plastic soda thingee.
And naturally, extreme beers also come in a can these days.
Page two, showing we’d passed the one-third mark in the goal of trying 150 beers by eleven o’clok p.m., twelve hours after beginning.
Old Companion, a special label made by Pike Brewing for the Michael Jackson Tribute Dinner that was held the previous night at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia at the conclusion of Philly Beer Week. Owner Charles Finkel brought these by for the tasting and joined us midway through.
Which we used for a toast led by Vern and Bonney to Michael’s memory.
Another homage, although to what I’m not entirely sure.
The two Matt’s, still great friend and business partners, a rare combination. I’ve known Bonney for a few years now, but this weekend was the first time I’d had an opportunity to talk with Vern, and he’s a terrific person, too, which I think says a lot about both Bottleworks and Brouwer’s success.
And so more bottles were opened.
From all over the globe.
With many from Belgium.
And also America. Mostly the beers were extreme because they needed to be rare and/or strong to make the cut for the Keene Tasting.
Nearly half-way through the tasting. The significant thing about this photo is I’m no longer in it, but you can read more about that on the regular Bulletin post, Pride Goeth Before A Fall. What time I was there was quite wonderful and I certainly hope my not making it to the finish line won’t impact a future invitation to a great tasting.