|February 14, 2009|
Saturday, February 14 — yes, Valentine’s Day — began the 16th annual Toronado Barleywine Festival. The day started out cool, but with sun peaking through the clouds. It was another stellar festival and a great day, the second last of this year’s SF Beer Week.
As has been the case for the past few years, the line to get into the Toronado for the Barleywine Festival stretched down the entire length of the block on Haight Street.
Filling the entire sidewalk with fans eager to sample over 55 barley wines.
At 11:00 a.m. sharp, the first patron were let into the Toronado.
Quickly filling the pub to capacity.
Mr. Sunshine, Dave Suurballe (in the back) was seated at Table 1 since he’d arrived at 8:00 a.m. to help set up for the festival, seated next to W. Dan, formerly of Anderson valley Brewing.
At table 2 was Dave Buhler from Elysian Brewing in Seattle (far left) and my friend Sean in from Vancouver, Canada (at far left). Across the table are Full Sail Brewing folks, with brewmaster John Harris from Portland on the right.
Behind the bar, bartenders scrambled to fill orders.
In the back room, another bar had been set up to serve several of the barley wines.
It, too, quickly filled up with people sampling barley wines.
At the far back corner, yet another impromptu bar was erected to help spread the beer, with Betsy (at right) behind the taps.
Meanwhile, across the street at the Peacock Lounge — where judging was taking place — Celebrator publisher Tom Dalldorf was interviewing Toronado owner Dave Keene and Russ Wigglesworth, who coordinates the barley wine judging each year.
Inside, round two of the double blind judging was underway.
Already finished judging, Alec Moss (from Half Moon Bay Brewing) and Pete Slosberg (formerly of Pete’s Wicked Ales).
The final judging table, where seven of us evaluated eleven barley wines to determine our favorite three.
Yours truly with fellow final judge Virginia Jamison, who writes online at Northern California Brews and Reviews.
Danny Vomit, the Human Blockhead — and sword swallower — the face of Shmaltz Brewing’s newest Coney Island Craft Lager label, Human Blockhead Tough-As-Nails Lager.
After judging, back across the street at the Toronado, tables were filled with every available barley wine the pub had to offer.
Yup, this is all of them — all 56.
A shot across the bow.
And one from above.
Later in the day, after the tables had been cleared, games of washoes began in earnest. My throwing partner, Dave Keene, and I racked up a nearly unbeatable day, losing only one game and winning a dozen or more times.