Barrel-Aged Sea Monster Imperial Stout
On the second Saturday of Beer Week, City Beer Store hosted a tasting of barrel-aged beers from Ballast Point Brewing Company. When we asked for a recommendation, the bartender immediately offered us this glass of Sea Monster Imperial Stout that had been aged in a bourbon barrel. The beer smelled—and tasted—like booze, but still had enough balance to offer some of the chocolate flavors you'd expect from a stout.
Rodger's Last Stand Triple IPA
George Kumparak of Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley proffers a glass of Rodger's Last Stand. This triple IPA is the farewell brew of former brewmaster Rodger Davis, who has moved on to start his own brewery. Lots of hops, and plenty of alcohol (12%) seems like a fitting send-off. Davis' new brewery should appear in Richmond, CA, in about a year's time.
With Pac Brew Lab, what started as a couple of guys experimenting in their garage has turned into a legitimate business. Those of us that tasted their Hibiscus Saison back in the it's-free-but-donate-a-few-bucks-if-you-can days remember a deeply floral, perfumey brew. The beer they showcased at the SF Beer Week opening night event has been renamed Nautilus Saison, and offers more tartness, with the flowery stuff moved to the background.
Uncle John's Chocolate Milk
Brewlab is a collection of home brewers who occasionally release their creations to get feedback from one another and a small group of enthusiastic followers. Though not officially featured on the SF Brewer's Guild schedule, Brewlab hosted its own Beer Week party with 22 home-brewed beers on tap. Here we have Uncle John's Chocolate Milk. It tasted like cocoa because, well, there's actually cocoa in the mix. Brewer Brian Button kept it from getting too bitter by including lactose powder, a sugar that doesn't get consumed by brewer's yeast.
The Shadow of Mordor
Cory Logan and Matt Smith brewed up the wort for The Shadow of Mordor, a Russian imperial stout, in two batches last June, mixed them, and then let it ferment for a good six months. The end result came in at about 15% alcohol, more than strong enough to help Sauron subdue the peoples of Middle Earth.
We also won't easily forget Ben Messina's Chile Pepper Thunder F*** (not pictured), which truly smelled like pureed hot peppers. That's because he'd included 2.5 pounds of jalapeno and anaheim peppers in his brew. Once you actually took a sip, the beer offered more of a slow lingering burn than eye-popping heat.
Zymaster No. 1: California Lager
At the SF Beer Week opening night event, Anchor Steam offered up pours of the first beer in its "Zymaster" series. With Zymaster No. 1, Anchor attempted to recreate a beer like the first true lager brewed in California. As much as possible, they used malt and hops related to those available to California brewers during the second half of the nineteenth century. The beer is smooth and clean, but still quite full of flavor.
Anderson Valley Grand Cru
Beer Ice Cream at Humphry Slocombe
Okay, not technically a sip! But cut us some slack, because Beer Week represents a natural fit for ice creamery Humphry Slocombe, which has tried its hand at several alcohol-based ice creams in the past. This year, they made eight different beer-flavored ice creams, offering four of them on any given day. When we visited, the full "flight" included Smoked Stack Stout and Old Thunderpussy Barleywine, both from Magnolia Brewing, Platypus Spiced Ale from Iron Springs Brewery, and Blind Spot Dark Specialty Ale from High Water Brewery. The flavors ranged from markedly alcoholic (the Thunderpussy), to ginger and spices (the Blind Spot).