Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Best In Fest Brewery Competition 2018

The Best In Fest Beer Brewery Competition was held on Sunday, April 29th at the Bottle & Pint inside The Collection at RiverPark's Annex. All proceeds from the Best in Fest Competition benefit Casa Pacifica’s programs and services that protect and help abused and neglected children.
In preparation for the 25th Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival a panel of seven beer judges got together and selected the “Best In Fest” winners for 2018. The 5th annual event had a new twist to it this year with an invitation only, limited seating of fellow beer enthusiasts to sample the craft brews along with the judges. A great way to get a first-hand taste of some of the beers that will be featured at the festival on June 3rd!
Curtis Taylor organized the judging and announced the results.
The Beer Judges included:
  • Kevin Pratt, a Grand Master V Beer Judge as ranked by the Beer Judge Certification Program
  • Erin Peters, The Beer Goddess blogger
  • Jason Hendrick, General Manager at Barrelhouse 101 
  • Jorge Alem, Owner of Ojai Beverage Company
  • Lisa Monie Wickenden, Beer Specialist at Wine Warehouse
  • Bec O’Neal, Sales Representative for Stone Distributing Co.
  • Zach Rosen, The Beer Guy columnist for the Santa Barbara Sentinel.
And they wouldn't let them out until they picked the Best In Fest!
Being a Beer Judge must be challenging. They begin tasting early in the morning and work through twelve different craft brews and almost as many styles. Then they have to judge the beer relative to criteria of its style, not compared to all of the other entries.  I just ranked them according to which ones I liked, and even that was a little tricky, but good work if you can find it!

Bottle & Pint Owner Farshad Memarzia was happy to see everyone enjoying the beer and food tasting. He explained that patrons can visit any one of The Annex eateries and bring their food back to enjoy with a beer, or they can take their brew with them to anywhere in The Annex.

The Tasting Order:
1 Munich Style Helles Lager
3 Pilsner
4 Belgian Wit 6.3% tangerine zest 3
5 Saison
6 Hazy IPA
7 IPA-Rye
8 American IPA
9 IPA - West Coast
10 Double IPA
11 Belgian Tripel
12 Golden Ale

In addition to the twelve craft beer tastings there were small bites served from several of The Annex eateries: Gasolina Tapas, Scratch Sandwich Counter and Seoul Sausage Company.

The Seoul Chicken BBQ was spicy and went well with beer!
The Scratch Cheeseburger Sliders were good for lunch! I only had two, not four.
Hmmm, down to the final 3 brews. Much debate about the merits of each and then the Best In Fest honor went to Institution Ale for their Pilsner.

Best in Fest Winner 
Rx Pils | Institution Ale Company
5.2% ABV, 25 IBUs, German-Style Pilsner. A light and refreshing craft lager. Rx is crisp with mild sweetness and light bitterness from German Magnum and Hallertau hops. Meant to be extremely versatile and easy-drinking with delicate malt flavors and mild floral hop aroma.

Honorable Mention
IPA - Rye | MadeWest 
6.6% ABV, 38 IBUs, Hazy IPA dry hopped with El Dorado, Ekuanot, and Simcoe hops. Tropical, and stone fruit character with notes of pineapple, apricot and grapefruit. Flaked oats and wheat impart a smooth creamy mouthfeel in this hazy refreshment.

Honorable Mention
Chief Peak (American IPA) | Topa Topa
7% ABV, 75 IBUs, tropical, dank, grapefruit. Piney hops followed by tropical tones of passion fruit, orange, and gooseberry.

As usual, my conclusions and my top 3 were not even close to the judges' list. I thought the Hefeweizen had an interesting color, but if it was a wheat beer, I couldn't tell. And I did try to lose my bias for hoppy IPAs with Enegren's Munich Style Helles Lager, but not very much. :-)
1 Double IPA
2 Munich Style Helles Lager
3 IPA - West Coast

4 Belgian Tripel
5 Saison
6 Hazy IPA
7 American IPA
8 Golden Ale
9 IPA-Rye
10 White Ale
11 Pilsner
12 Hefeweizen

Wait! Can't I just click on the sign? (Maybe a QRC graphic would help.)
The audience of tasters had a chance to play the Brewery Matching Game where they tried to guess which brewery produced each brew to win a VIP ticket to Casa Pacifica's Wine, Food & Brew Festival. But first they had to prove they weren't already intoxicated by accessing a Google doc online by typing in an unwieldy URL (https://bit.ly/2vRXHZ7) into their browser. Surprisingly, several people got 11 out of 12 correct (and somehow managed to only get one wrong, not two...).

Raffle Prizes!
The Proud Winner of Cigars on a Stick

These are the beer descriptions that were provided online:
Beer #1: Munich Style Helles Lager
4.8% ABV, German Pilsner, German Munich Light, Hallertauer

Beer #2: Hefeweizen
5.4% ABV, 15 IBU's, blood orange juice, unfiltered.

Beer #3: Pilsner
5.2% ABV, 25 IBU's, German Style Pilsner.

Beer #4: White Ale
6.3% ABV, Pale Malt, Raw Wheat, Oats, Pixie Tangerine Zest, Orchard Blossoms.

Beer #5: Saison
5% ABV, Saison, Aged on zinfandel soaked french oak spirals with raspberry and hibiscus. Dry, slightly tart, and very refreshing.

Beer #6: Hazy IPA
5.7% ABV, 44.7 IBU’s, Hazy IPA, pineapple juice with hints of orange rind.

Beer #7: IPA-Rye
6.6% ABV, 38
IBUs, Hazy IPA dry hopped with El Dorado, Ekuanot, and Simcoe hops. Tropical, and stone fruit character with notes of pineapple, apricot and grapefruit. Flaked oats and wheat impart a smooth creamy mouthfeel in this hazy refreshment.

Beer #8: American IPA
7% ABV, 75 IBUs, tropical, dank, grapefruit

Beer #9: IPA - West Coast
7.8% ABV, 45 IBUs, A West Coast style IPA brewed with American 2-row malt, a touch of German and English specialty malts, and tons of piney, fruity, American Hops. Flavors of pine, citrus, berry, and tropical fruit hop character are balanced by a juicy malt backbone.

Beer #10: Beer Double IPA
10% ABV, 74 IBUs, C-hops, Warrior and Amarillo

Beer #11: Spice, Herb or Vegetable Beer, Belgian Tripel
8.2% ABV, 29 IBU's, Belgian Tripel brewed with hibiscus flowers
Tasting notes: Fruity esters, tart, pink hue.

Beer #12: Specialty Beer - Golden Ale
7.5% ABV, 23 IBUs, Roasted peanuts, pure liquid chocolate.

Don’t forget…
Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 is the Casa Pacifica Angels 25th Anniversary Wine, Food & Brew Festival at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) in Camarillo.

The Men's Room at The Annex had an eye catching sign across from the sink area. The message was obvious when viewed in the mirror.

See ya'll on future tasting trips! Stay in touch...
email: TasteNTrip@gmail.com
facebook: www.facebook.com/TasteNTrip
twitter: @TasteNTrip

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Taste N Trip 2018

Happy New Year from Westlake Village!  
Devon and I are looking forward to traveling to new tasting events in 2018.  Stay tuned for some entertaining posts ...
In case you missed them, here are a few recent pictures from Taste N Trip on Facebook.
Do you have any suggestions about future tasting trips?  Let me know via ...
email: TasteNTrip@gmail.com
facebook: www.facebook.com/TasteNTrip
twitter: @TasteNTrip

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

30th Oregon Brewers Festival

Devon and I attended the Oregon Brewers Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland on July 28th and 29th. The OBF celebrated its 30th annual event commemorating craft beer this year and it was a good time to be there as a beer tourist. Although we didn’t taste all of the 84 beers from craft breweries across the nation, we had a good sampling of mostly northwest brews. As with any festival these days, this one included live music, food booths, craft vendors and, last, but not least, homebrew demonstrations.
I didn't understand the 2017 OBF graphic at first, but then I saw in the program how they were remembering one of the first customers and contributors to the fest, the late Richard Frank, who is pictured on the left. Well, he sounds like a good guy to me! Cheers!
Most of the following tasting notes and ratings are from BeerAdvocate and Untappd, with some commentary by Taste N Trip.
Sasquatch Brewing Company - KGB (Kremlin Ginger Blonde) 
Kölsch, 4.6% ABV, 19 IBU
Rated 3.75 / 5 at BeerAdvocate
Rated 3.88 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Experimental ale brewed in tribute to our Russian overlords with fresh organic ginger, lime juice and lime zest. It was light and Devon liked it.

Portland Brewing* - Strawberry Rhubarb Blonde Ale
Fruit Beer, 5.6% ABV, 15 IBU
Rated 3.37 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Rhubarb and strawberry puree from Oregon Fruit Products are added before fermentation to yield a flavor profile that are reminiscent of homemade pies. Two-row and wheat malts in the mash, Perle and Vanguard hops in the kettle, Bull Run water and a house ale yeast fill out the chef's recipe in this summer delight. It was a nice light blonde ale, but I didn’t taste any strawberries or rhubarb though. Devon liked it.

* Subsidiary of Florida Ice and Farm Company S.A.
Full Sail Brewing Co. - Blood Orange Wheat   
Fruit Wheat Beer, 5.2% ABV, 23 IBU
BA SCORE = 82 at

Rated  3.52 / 5     at BeerAdvocate
Rated  3.66 / 5     at Untappd, Inc.

This beer is brewed with 2-row Northwest Pale, Malted Wheat, and Unmalted Wheat. Blood orange provides a subtle twist to this refreshing brew. It pours with a white lacy head and a hint of orange aroma. A medium malt body with a crisp wheat finish and subtle orange flavor. Devon didn’t like it.

BridgePort Brewing Co. - Deep Cuts: India Pale Wheat
India Pale Wheat, 5.4% ABV, 60 IBU
Rated  3.69 / 5 at BeerAdvocate
Rated  3.5 / 5   at Untappd, Inc.

Mixing Hefeweizen wheat malts and IPA pale malts together makes an interesting IPW! I like both separately, but the lightness of the Hefeweizen and the hoppiness of the IPA seem to be at odds with each other when mixed. Still, I’d recommend trying it!

Caldera Brewing Co. - Cousin Rick Triple IPA 20th Anniversary Brew
American Double / Imperial IPA,  11.0% ABV, 100 IBU
Rated  3.83 / 5  at BeerAdvocate
Rated  2.9 / 5    at Untappd, Inc.

Cousin Rick Triple IPA incorporates a malt bill of 50% Premium Two Row and 50% Weyermann Light Munich and brewed with whole flower hops, pelletized hops, hop extract/goo, hop hash pure lupulin and hop oils. It was good when I tasted it on Friday, but the line for this brew went crazy on Saturday!

The Lost Abbey - Avant Garde
Farmhouse Ale/Bière de Garde, 7% ABV, 12 IBU

BA SCORE = 82 at BeerAdvocate
Rated 3.81 / 5      at BeerAdvocate
Rated 3.68 / 5      at Untappd, Inc.

I know Lost Abbey makes great beer and I felt that I just had to try their Farmhouse Ale, even though I’m generally not a fan of the Bière de Garde style. Described as deep gold in color with hints of biscuits, caramel and fresh baked bread this reminded me of a flavor characteristic I’d noticed in Australian beers, what I always called “cardboard” - it must be the lager yeast. Victoria Bitter (also known as “Vitamin B”) comes to mind with its “very robust lager yeast.”

And wouldn’t you know it? Lost Abbey got lost at Trailer 7 even though they were listed in the program as being at Trailer 6! Worth the hunt either way.
Ancestry Brewing - Tiny Umbrellas Experimental Hop IPA
American IPA, 7% ABV, 75 IBU
Rated  3.6 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

This experimental IPA has a tropical toned nose, a little pineapple, a little coconut, and a dank hop touch. The hops include Bru 1 (canned pineapple and pine characteristics) and HBC 472 (toasted coconut, wood an Bourbon). I thought it was great!

Natian Brewery - “Full Pour” Imperial IPL
Imperial IPL, 8.0% ABV, 68 IBU
Rated  3.76 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

This single hop summer lager uses Citra throughout the brewing process to produce a citrus kick. Balancing out the hop are pilsner, two-row and Munich malts. An Imperial IPL, I tried several IPLs, but never really liked any. I did like their name of "Full Pour" though, because it would have been great to have anybody fill up my beer mug by this point!

21st Amendment Brewery - Watermelon Funk
American Wild Ale / Sour - Ale, 6.7% ABV, 14 IBU
BA SCORE = 84 at
Rated  3.74 / 5     at BeerAdvocate

Rated  3.60 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.
A summertime watermelon wheat beer with syncopated sweet fruit notes and downbeat aromas is fermented with French saison yeast for an estery and slight barnyard character. The two-row pale and white wheat are bittered with a single dose of Magnum hops at the beginning of the boil to preserve the fruit-forward aromas and flavors. Some of the opinions about Watermelon Funk on BeerAdvocate expressed my thoughts - not much watermelon flavor, funk is minimal, low tartness or body. And the chief fruit drink taster, Devon, didn’t like it.

The Specialty Tent featured more than 100 one-off kegs of rare, bold, and experimental beers from participating brewers. They didn’t last very long! The Untappd app announced the beers with their descriptions as they became available. I’m glad to have caught the Pipewrench IPA on Friday. 

Gigantic Brewing Company - Pipewrench IPA 
American Double / Imperial IPA, 8.0% ABV, 85 IBU 
at BeerAdvocate   

Rated  4.1 / 5       at BeerAdvocate
Rated  3.91 / 5     at Untappd, Inc.

IPA aged Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels for 3 months. Botanicals from the gin meld perfectly with citrusy hops and subtle wood in an incredibly complex beer. I like Gin, I like Gin & Tonics too, but I think the additional Gin-related flavors were a little strange, yet still drinkable. Although not sure it was worth the extra token.

Two Kilts Brewing Company - Kilted Destroyer IPA 
IPA - American, 7.0% ABV, 55 IBU
Rated  3.71 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Kilted Destroyer IPA is a clean, big, and straightforward IPA. Pilsner malt, flaked barley and Vienna malts in the grist, citrusy Amarillo hops in the kettle, Mosaic in the whirlpool and a clean, crisp, highly flocculant yeast with a medium high attenuation yields a balanced, medium bodied brew that won't pucker your mouth. Some late hop additions proved a tropical fruit and slight citrus flavor and aroma. Calcium chloride and sulphate were added to city water to add mouthfeel and softness. Although it did destroy my taste buds, I thought this IPA was GREAT!

Lompoc Brewing - Lompocker Hoppy Kölsch
Kölsch,  5.3% ABV,  36 IBU
Rated  3.42 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

This beer is a German style ale with a touch more hops than a traditional Kolsch. It is  brewed with Perle and Mandarina Bavaria hops that give off a fruity aroma. Bright golden in color with a delicate, soft maltiness and a lingering hop bitterness. I thought this hoppy Kölsch was very good and highly drinkable.

Dunedin Brewery - Passionate Disenchantment 
Saison / Farmhouse Ale, 6.0% ABV, 15 IBU
Rated 3.23 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Lots going on in this beer from Florida’s oldest craft brewery, it has Serrano peppers and cold brewed Tanzanian coffee! There’s a spicy kick in this classic saison style brew. It’s brewed with pilsner malt, carahell malt and oats, hopped with Mt. Hood, Tradition and Nelson and fermented with a farmhouse yeast to add a spicy and slightly tart character. I liked the unique pepper and coffee flavors!

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Beautiful Trouble 
American IPA, 6.8% ABV, 65 IBU
Rated  4.06 / 5 at BeerAdvocate
Rated  3.89 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Beautiful Trouble is a big American IPA with a touch of Kiwi inspiration. New Zealand and U.S. hops collide, creating a tropical and fruity hop aroma and flavor, with notes of white wine grapes, tropical fruit, melon and passionfruit, all balanced by rich Munich and Vienna malts. Originally brewed in collaboration with Birkenhead Brewing Co. of New Zealand, this is the first time this beer was tapped in the States. I wasn't blown away.

Widmer Brothers Brewing - THRILLHAUS
Munich Helles Lager, 4.5% ABV, 22 IBU
Rated  3.5 / 5 at BeerAdvocate
Rated  3.23 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

This simple, copper colored brew is perfect for summer! Pilsner and Vienna malts in the grist meet up with noble Hallertau hops in the kettle for a soft, balancing bitterness, then Enigma hops from Australia are added to the whirlpool to give it a slightly fruity flavor and aroma. Portland Bull Run water is adjusted to Munich's mineral profile with brewing salts and Augustiner yeast finishes it off clean.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project - Single Hop IPA Exp. 06297
American IPA, 6.2% ABV, 55 IBU
Rated  3.67 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Crooked Stave Brewing Company is an artisan microbrewery in Denver, Colorado that is known for their brewing specialty in Brettanomyces fermentations and barrel-aged sour and wild ales. Even so, their IPA was pretty good anyway!

Chetco Brewing Co. - The Chetco Effect
American Pale Ale (APA), 5.0% ABV, 32 IBU
Rated 4.46 / 5 at BeerAdvocate
Rated 3.39 / 5 at Untappd, Inc.

Although I thought it had weird hops, it’s described as a bright summer ale dry hopped with Sorachi Ace (cross between Brewer's Gold, Saaz and Beikei No. 2 male) to give it a crisp, lemony finish. One taste was fine, probably wouldn’t drink two though.
StormBreaker Brewing - Hopfenreich IPA
American IPA/Pale Ale - International, 6.4% ABV, 74 IBU
Rated  3 / 5       at BeerAdvocate

Rated  3.15 / 5  at Untappd, Inc.
A German wheat beer is combined with an IPA to brew this summertime beer. Made with all German ingredients, five different malts, four infusions of hops and German yeast. The tropical and citrus fruit flavors combine with aromas of pineapple, tangerine and lemon. I didn’t appreciate this combo any more than the India Pale Wheat from BridgePort Brewing. Still not fond of the wheat-IPA blend.

OK, I tend to like IPAs and hoppy beer, so my favorites (in alphabtical order) were:
  • Ancestry Brewing - Tiny Umbrellas Experimental Hop IPA
  • Caldera Brewing Co. - Cousin Rick Triple IPA 20th Anniversary Brew
  • Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project - Single Hop IPA Exp. 06297
  • Lompoc Brewing - Lompocker Hoppy Kölsch
  • Two Kilts Brewing Company - Kilted Destroyer IPA
On Saturday Band of Comerados performed Winter Song from their album Tomorrow Is Today. I really enjoyed their playing!
Ryan McMahon - mandolin/vocals
 Jeffrey Leppert - bass 
 Kyle Donaldson - guitar/vocals
  Devon James - guitar/ vocals
Click here for a music video of the festival.
When the Volunbeer servers start to look like Picasso people you'd better give away the rest of your tokens...
It was a warm Saturday afternoon with lots of great beer! 
Send me your beer thoughts!
email: TasteNTrip@gmail.com
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twitter: @TasteNTrip