Monday, February 4, 2013

Flagstaff BrewHaHa 2013

Yesterday was the 3rd Annual Flagstaff BrewHaHa. We have gone all three years. Each year has been a new and different experience for everyone. The first year, Berkeley refused to eat a late lunch because he wanted to eat at the event. Their food offerings were meager, consisting of chaffing dishes at opposite ends of the room. The staff could not keep up with demand. And food was gone almost immediately. We were feeling it! At the time we were living across the street so it was no big deal. Berkeley stumbled home and mellowed out after the event.

Last year, we made a day out of it. We started with a lunch at Lumberyard. We had substantial foods in our stomachs when we started drinking. Also, the catering staff decided on passed finger foods instead of food stations. It kept inebriation down. It was a good deal. More about can be read here.

This year fell between years 1 and 2. We both had obligations in the morning. We could not get a proper lunch prior to arriving. We went in with empty stomachs. Also, I thought I had my ID, I did not so we had to go back home to find it. On the way, my car was acting up so we switched vehicles. Berkeley was a little razzed up from work so we hit the first few tables fast and furiously. The food serving was lacking. Combination made for an interesting afternoon and evening.

Between the two of us we ended up drinking 20 of our allotted 32 samples. Which turns out be a lot of beer over only 4 hours. As with previous years, our favorites did not fall in line with the Snowman Awards.

The winners for Best Brew:
1st The Lumberyard's Monsoon Madness
This bourbon barrel aged Double IPA was our favorite among the three listed winners. It was a light amber color, and had a slightly sweet slightly spiced scent with a hint of bourbon. It was not nearly as bitter as many IPA's out there, with more of the East Coast malt than West Coast hops. The barrel aging left a mild sweetness throughout. To me, the person that can't stand overly bitter beers, this IPA was quite mild and delicious.
2nd Deschuttes Chainbreaker White IPA
Just like the name says it is a White IPA. It poured a bright golden yellow more like the color of a pilsner or wheat ale instead of the warm amber color of most IPA's. This beer was one of my least favorite of the whole bunch with its citrus and grassy aromas, followed by its muddled citrus flavors and super hoppy bitterness.
3rd Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA
Another of my least favorite offerings. Even more bitter than the Chainbreaker, this unfiltered IPA poured a warm honey amber color with nice clarity. The sweet piney aroma was a spot on indicator of the bitter hoppy taste that was slightly cut down by subtle biscuit malt flavor.

Despite my distaste for the "winners" for best brew, there were some other clear cut favorites unlike in previous years. First was Odell. I normally am not a fan. Their 90 Schilling is a little much for me. I was a big fan of their Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout. Once poured it was a opaque black color with a tan head that had me nervous for the result. I was pleasantly surprised by its full bodied chocolatey flavors. It was so mellow. It was smooth especially for a 8.5% stout.

Second, we really liked what College Street Brewhouse was offering. When we first walked up we saw bottles for one of our favorite things, MALT LIQUOR! The kind genetlemen offered us a tasting of Jesse's Malt Liquor. Tasting is about half of the size of a sample. Anyways, back on track. It was smooth. It had a softness to it that I cannot really explain. It was great! Berkeley got a sample of their Sweet Devil Stout. It was not my favorite. But we had also just enjoyed that Odell Lugene.

The winner was from them, to me, was the Big Blue Van! It was a high gravity, unfiltered wheat beer with blueberry and vanilla bean. It was amazing. It poured bright golden yellow with hints of vanilla and blueberry wheat aromas. Those elements continued throughout the flavor. It was light and consistent. The subtle flavors held out even after eat beef skewers without being overpowering. Trying to explain it just does not give this brew justice! Thankfully, enough people thought it was rockin' because it received first place in the first ever People's Choice category. It was so good second and third samples were acquired.

Runner's up in the People's Choice were both from Wanderlust Brewing which is a new Flagstaff brewery. First was Pan-American, which is a Vanilla Stout. Followed by 928 Local, a "Farmhouse Ale". These were both pretty good. For me they ran middle of the road. Not a huge standout but nothing to turn your nose at.

Overall, this year was a great year in terms of what the brewers were offering. Everyone there seemed to be bringing their A game. We were missing Mogollon Brewing Company this year, but we both found a bunch of new brews that we love.

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