This is where I would normally write up a review of FredFest. I will make a comment about a couple of the beers--especially that 1994 Saxer doppelbock--but actually, this event calls for a slightly different kind of treatment.
Although it has some of the appearance of a beer fest, FredFest is actually a birthday party. The space and "guest list" are both small enough that within a couple of laps, you've laid eyes on everyone in the place. Mostly people spend time talking and enjoying each other's company rather than focusing overmuch on the beer. For me, it was sort of a harmonic convergence of bloggers/beer writers and blog readers.
Let's see if I can do this justice: Bill, Dave, Lisa, Abe, Derek, John, Chris, Kerry, plus Josh (who suggested Doc Wort and I are one--and who remains in my doghouse) and Nate, regular commenters it was nice to finally put a face to. Of course, the event was for the ur-writer, a fact not lost on any of us. We managed, through Bill's organization, to get a picture with Fred. It should appear on various blogs, from which I plan to steal it as a treasured memento. (Unfortunately, we missed Angelo, Matt, and one Doc Wort, who did not make himself known if he was there.) Very cool to see you all, and all in one place--
Okay, that doppel. It held up very nicely--good thing Bob had kept it in a cooler all those years. The structure was intact, and it was still lively after all these years. A wee bit of oxidation, but fairly minimal. Some fruity notes emerged, and it was silky smooth. Everyone raved, but no one I talked to remembered the original particularly clearly. I do. Despite decoction and several weeks in the tank, it still came out like a Hell's Angel. A very big, burly beer--smooth and supple, but still big. In the current gigantism of brewing, 8% seems trifling, but this was no lightweight. It came out in the dead of winter, and I drank it to chase away the chill. So, while the aged beer was a beauty, I have to confess missing the force of the original. I had somehow hoped to visit the past--but of course things change.
The other beer of note, and one you may actually encounter, was Firestone Walker Abacus, which was deep, dark, and mysterious. I had it late, so my palate wasn't its freshest, but I'm still prepared to declare it damned impressive. (Actually, there were plenty of beers to note: Double Mountain Ingelmonster, Cascade Bain de Brugge, Fred on the Wood. I didn't take notes, though--I was at a party, and I was just enjoying things. Even a beer blogger gets a day off every now and again.)
Got a few pictures here, and if others write about it, I'll link to them.