This year was no exception. Although the number of breweries seemed to decline a bit from years previous (I would blame the recession and the fact that the Raley Field Beer Fest was held the evening prior) the quality of the beer was just as stellar as ever. I'm not going to list them all here...they have a website for that purpose. I will merely focus on the beers that stood out for me....in no particular order.
Rye'd Piper - Ale Industries is a new brewery out of Concord that just blew me away with their 5.8% hoppy Rye beer. Reminiscent of a lighter version of Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye....co-brewer Stephen Lopas explained to me that they only 5.7% Rye but virtually pulverized it to get that big rye flavor.
Scarlet Harlot - Auburn Ale House. I've had this brew in Auburn at the source but when I seen it at the AAH booth I had to have some more. A very interesting and unusual red that is dominated by roasted malt, Simco hops and a beautiful dry finish.
Old Wire - Dust Bowl Brewing Company is another new California brewery. Located in Turlock CA they have only been in business since 2009. I was originally drawn over for their Hops of Wrath IPA but left with a better opinion of their Old Wire Pale Ale. Very fruity, light and perfect for this day out in the sun. Interestingly Brewmaster Don Oliver won the 2006 Samuel Adams Long Shot Award for his Old Ale.
Southern Harvest - Sierra Nevada's now yearly fresh hop ale made exclusively from New Zealand Hops. A spring favorite that seems to have raised the standard again this year. Very drinkable SN classic, balanced with a nice snappy hop spiciness.
Maibock - Primator. This genuine Czech Republic Maibock just hit the spot perfectly after a few hours of hoppy beers. That unique Maibock Grain profile was like the desert following a long lingering meal.
Anyway...that was few of the beers that stood out for me. Of course there were plenty of others like the AAH Gold Digger IPA and Deschutes Hop Henge...but mainly the hot late spring day was an occasion for the lighter beers. Long Board Lager and Sudwerks Pilsner were nice finds as well. Thanks to Dwight and the boys for once again putting on a great event. I suspect next year I will be making it a lucky seven in a row.