Hayward California...the Bistro...Saturday February 12th 2011 was where and when I needed to be. I can think of no other place on earth....on that day...that I ever more assuredly belonged.
58 Double IPA's, a rare 70+ degree February summer like day, hanging out with my Mom and family and finishing with a spot-on Jimi Hendrix impersonator playing Stevie Ray Vaughn songs.
And oh ya...some mostly pale looking lavishly hoppy beer creations that at times carved out chunks of my palate, and left me masochistically searching for the next one on the menu.
The Beer of the day for me...well...beers of the day were ....uh....did I mention there was 58 Double IPA's listed on the program?
I can, I believe, narrow my favorites down by the amount of beer stains next to the little hand written stars next to the IBU listings.
I should start with Kern River Brewing Citra. Which coincidently was voted The Peoples Choice Award....unseating some little unhearalded triple IPA from Russian River Brewing called Pliny the Younger. The Younger has had a lock on that award for the past several years.
I see that I also have a star next to Lagunitas Fusion and Triple Rock IIMAXX....which doesn't surprise me because I am fans of both breweries.
Hopefully as you read through this you're not still searching and patiently waiting for some cleaver detailed beer descriptions because frankly I've given up trying to take those kinds of notes at this place years ago.
This yearly event just isn't about that for me anymore. I go for the inspirational collection of seasonal hop monsters and the absolute sensory in-your-face hop overload that this festival provides. If you've ever attended...well then you know what I mean.
One of the most important lessons to learn and always remember is to have a really good breakfast before even thinking of showing up. Good advice for any beer fest but doubly important on a day such as this.
OK, OK.... my grand hop memories started clouding my purpose here...which is...um...oh ya... my favorite selections.
Another couple of my personal podium finishers would have to be Drakes Brewing Hop Salad and Bear Republics Cafe Racer 15. According to my records I had multiple samples of these. I do remember going on and on about the Hop Salad during the event to most anyone that would listen. I think I remember at one point some dude that said he was from the midwest kept asking me if I was in the band so finally I said "Yes, ZZTop is going to play next" and he slurred out "No I thought you were Burl Ives".
After that I moved my chair away from the psycho ward and went and got some 21st Amendment Hop Crisis on my way to grab an Auburn Ale House PU240.
I had a lot of help sampling a wide variety of beers as Trog, Doctor Robert, Oralia and the rest of the crew continuely fetched full sampler glasses of whatever entries were catching their eye and sharing them with the group.
According to my list I still only managed to try 32 of the 58 entries.
I know...how pathetic. I will however continue at next years event to find the perfect balance of ...
well balancing... and walking... as well as trying as many of these spectacular hand crafted super Ales as I possibly can. I promise.
Oh..and the official winners were
Gold - Firestone Walker - Double Jack
Silver - Moylans - Moylander XX
Bronze - Drakes - Hopocalypse
Peoples Choice - Kern River Brewing - Citra