But nevermind the tchotkes, here's the beer. In order of tasting, as scrawled in my notes.
Pretty amber, thick head. Rich, creamy beer without harsh chile bite. Chile imparts a smoky meatiness. Also a smoked malt quality. Subtle bite in finish. Rating: Excellent
Widmer Brown Porter
Horrible smell.* "Wet Schnauzer" (Sally). Robust flavor, roasty rich palate, but also a cabbagy off-flavor. Can't get past the nose; quesy. Rating: Not poisonous.
Alpine Pilsner (Oroville, WA)
Beautiful golden, bright. Nice head. Light and spicy and totally clean. [Apparently I was still smarting from the Schnauzer.] More of a Bavarian pilsner. Rating: Good.
Spanish Peaks Black Dog Ale (Bozeman, MT)
Off nose: cabbagy. Again?! Tastes same, plus some fusel alcohols. Pretty bright brown ale, however. Rating: Not poisonous.
Walking Man Street Walker Malt Liquor (Stevenson, WA)
Clear golden. Tastes like malt liquor. Sorta strong and a bit harsh. Clearly well made, but.... Rating: Average.
Stone Imperial Russian Stout [IRS, it was April 15, get it?] (Escondido, CA)
Huuuuuuuge. Black. Latte-like head. Massive. Would hold up a spoon. Actually, though, not super-intense. Creamy and rich. Rating: Good.
A Belgian Kriek
Didn't take notes.
Alesmith Grand Cru (San Diego)
Dark amber. Palate going. I can tell it's strong. May be roasty. Residual cherry from failure to rinse glass after kreik. Rating: Average (?)**
Walking Man Double IPA
Quite a large beer, yet harmonious. On the other hand, I'm a wee tipsy. Rating: Excellent (?)**
Sierra Nevada Brown (Chico, CA)
Mixed with residue of WM. Seems of the Basement Brown variety (a homebrew I regularly brew)--thicker, richer, nuttier. Maybe. Rating: Excellent. (?)**
Chateau Lorane Apricot Mead (Eugene)
Wonderfully spicy and dry. I ultimately resolved that the spice was from the apricot. Complex. Rating: Excellent. (?)**
New Deal Hot Monkey (Portland, OR)
I also recall having Widmer Broken Halo (I felt they needed the redemption after the Schnauzer, and this earned it), another mead (cherry, also dry), Victory Pils, a cider, and Chimay Cinq Cents, but failed to take notes. Naturally, the crappy SBF website is of no use.
I may have had others.
*I haven't always been the Widmers' biggest booster, but I've also never known them to produce an infected beer, and am left to conclude that something happened between the brewery and my mouth.
** I was still rating beers, but at this point, my judgment was suspect.
The Bier Stein's Starkbierzeit: Festival of Strong Beer
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