Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stone's 3rd Annual Sour Beer Fest Recap

Not even the sweltering heat which unexpectedly showed up in [Escondido] could ruin what was Stone's best sour fest yet. Each year the fest has grown, now into the hundreds (I would estimate 400-500 sour fest goers), and at this rate Stone will soon have to book Cal State San Marcos twice a year for their parties. As if the tap list wasn't good enough last year, Dr. Bill - Stone's newest beer guy - was able to arrange a massive list of sour beers spanning from San Diego to Portland to Michigan and of course all the way to where sour beer finds its roots, Belgium.

We arrived down there at 11am ready to indulge ourselves. The line for on-site ticket purchases was an early indicator how big this thing was gonna be (online ticket sales were stopped at 250). As I made my way in I stopped by the first of three locations where they were pouring beers. The first sample I went with was a Ballast Point Hout Geuze. Unfortunately I didn't really take any notes and all the flavors begin to be muddled in your head as the day wears on but this geuze by Ballast Point was a real winner. My friend tried their Hout Dark Cherry and had good things to say as well, so two thumbs up to Ballast Point who at this time can't really do much wrong. The next beer I figured I would go with would be what I expect was the culprit of very long lines at tent B. That beer would be Lost Abbey's Duck Duck Gooze. This was another winner, which I probably didn't even need to tell you. The next handful of tasters were sampled from Valley Brewing and New Belgium. Standing out was New Belgium's Spicy Folie (it was surely spicy, slightly roasty, but didn't have near the acidity of La Folie) and Love Barrel #3(4) which was a sour roundhouse kick to the face, and New Belgium's Bottlework's 10th Anniv sour (amazing!). My favorite from Valley was their DysFunktion-Ale Part Deux although I can't remember what it tasted like. Oh, Valley's Chilie Wonka (mildly spicy) was also solid beer and a cult hit this day.

To digress a bit, JTH got a call from JRhode and said that Greg (Stone CEO) twittered he was going to have a special sampling for whoever could find the Bischofia tree in the next hour. After a lot of walking around the gardens, checking google on our mobile phones to find out what the hell a Bischofia tree looked like, and constantly checking for more updates via TwitterBerry, we (or at least JTH) finally spotted the group assembling for a toast with a Boon Mariage Parfait 2003. Pretty cool stuff.

As the day wore on and our hydration wore down the few beers that I remember specifically were the always-amazing Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme, Russian River Sanctification (which seems to now get funkier and funkier every batch), and Drake's George Brett Tripel (a very delicious funktified tripel). At the same time I reaffirmed that Hanssen's Oude Kriek is probably the best kriek in the world. I was actually finding it hard to use my last couple taster tickets until JTH motivated me and we finished with somewhat of a sour flurry before heading out and over to Pizza Port. (Major thing of note- Three Floyds Pride & Joy ESB was actually on tap at PP Carlsbad....)

We had a very nice time talking to the owner of Valley Brewing, which is now a must-stop (in Stockton) on my next trip north, and the brewer from Captain Lawrence out in NY. Two very cool guys indeed.

Overall it was just a great day. It doesn't get much better than having a ridiculous amount of awesome sour beers in one place and having your money to sample those go to charity. There was really only one disappointment of the day which I don't even really wanna talk about because it's from a brewery who has always been near and dear to my heart (looking at you Deschutes). Can't wait to see what next year brings!


David said...

Stone is in Escondido. Remember the old one was San Marcos.

Steve said...

Yeah oops, we had checked the local weather for the temp and it pulled up San Marcos which is why I guess I had that city stuck in mt head re: the weather

Anonymous said...

I so wish I was there!!!

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