It has been about 6 months since the last time I attended a Beer Festival of some kind. That’s probably a good thing, since I really
don’t need to shouldn’t put my body through that very often. Back in December, this Festival was brought to my attention, and based on the sheer volume alone, not to mention the price, it was more than enough for me to commit to going. When you feature 73 highly notable breweries, the majority of which are not local and this would be the only way I would probably be able to enjoy their products short of physically going there, you’ve got my attention.
A little backstory on the event: The Horus HOOTennany is sponsored locally by Horus Aged Ales. Horus itself is a very different kind of brewery, in that they do not have a tap room or physical location that you can visit and drink or buy their products. Rather, Horus has a membership that you sign up for, and your beer will either be sent to you or available for pickup. My understanding is that this membership is only available for folks physically in San Diego county, which is a great thing for the locals, (we just need to see about getting the owner a better hat.) It’s a little unconventional to say the least, and while I understand the issue of people wanting to actually try any product before committing to an expensive membership, it’s damn impressive with how well they have done in about two year’s time, largely on word of mouth alone. Hell, it’s shocking that they were able to get this many big names together from across the country AND have either the owner or a brewer at every booth where their product was being served. Typically, this is done by volunteers, who know nothing about the beer and if you happen to have any comments or questions, well, that sucks.
Two friends and I took a Lyft 30 minutes from my ziggurat to the locale and arrived 30 minutes before the gates opened to non-VIPs such as ourselves. It took about an hour from that point to get inside, grab our commemorative glassware, and take to drankin’. The first booth that we encountered was for Horus itself, but having just gotten out of a massive line and baking in the hot (81° F) sun we were thirsty and not in the waiting mood. My friends thought this would be the only chance we’d have to try their beer, as the line was getting longer by the moment, and they were right. I can’t tell you how good they are, but I can tell you all about these other fines brews:
Bissell Brothers Brewing Swish Double IPA (Portland, ME) – Juicy and smooth as fuck. Doesn’t taste like a double but fucking great.
It’s worth mentioning at this moment that this event was advertised as one where you have to buy drink tickets, and isn’t unlimited pours. That would be why they were offering 5 oz pours and not 1-2 oz like most Beer Fests. I gave the fine folks at Bissell my complimentary ticket, then our group went to buy more. After $20, I had six more tickets, and once we were back out on the floor, not a single person asked any of us for one the rest of the day. I AM NOT COMPLAINING.
Other Half Brewing Triple Citra Double IPA (Brooklyn, NY) – Holy shit! This is smooth and sweet and amazing! For a DIPA, this makes no sense but I want all of this! Endlessly sweet but not boozy. 10.5%?! Fuck!
3 Sons Brewing Base Nectar BBA Stout (Dania Beach, FL) – First bourbon barrel aged (BBA) beer today. The story with this one is that it’s a BBA without any “adjuncts,” aka added flavors, like coffee or coconut This is as much of a true aged stout as they can be. All the flavor. Chocolate, oaky, bourbon, touch of smoke on the end. Couldn’t of been executed much better, but I wish I had more time to let it warm up to see more of the complexity come out. Oh yeah, and it’s over 15%.
Finback Brewing Heinous Imperial BBA Stout (Queens, NY) – You may remember that I wrote about Finback doing a collaboration with Pure Project last year. The moment I saw their sign, I wandered away from my friends and immediately got in line. Wooooo that’s what I’m talking about! Powerful BBA Stout with a nice grain taste and a little alcohol bite. This is fucking great! Maybe a touch of coconut? In the end, I would say this was the best beer I had today.
Green Cheek Beer Company Happily Deceased IPA (Orange, CA) – I don’t know if my pallet is just wrecked already or if this beer is just meh. It seems like it has a good funkiness on the end, but kinda watery up front. I ended up dumping this beer for my own well being after a few sips like this, but would certainly be willing to try it again for a fairer verdict.
Finback Brewing Rolling in the Clouds IPA (Queens, NY) – Had to go back and try what else they had to offer. Unfortunately, yup, my pallet is wrecked. My nose knows this beer is amazing, but my mouth can’t tell anything about the taste. Back to dark beers and maybe a TIPA.
Dancing Gnome Beer Black Clouds Coffee Cake Imperial Stout (Pittsburgh, PA) – Oooohhhhhh yes. This one is dangerous. It’s a touch of coffee, and then all the brown chu-gar sweetness of biting into Beach Break’s coffee cake. I’ll take 8!
I’m feeling it a little bit of it at this point, but still fully good. At least, in theory.
Pure Project Clouds of Delusion Double IPA (San Diego, CA) – Okay here’s a DIPA I can taste still. Powerful! Small booze burn, citrusy as hell and brings the funk. Pure gets it. Every time. It’s hard to find a local place consistently better than them, and that’s saying a lot.
Great Notion Brewing Share the Fire Imperial Stout (Portland, OR) – Smoke beer!!!! This finishes like sticking your head in a camp fire! Fuck yes! Sweet and something I can’t quite put my tongue on up front (maybe toasted marshmallow according to the profile) but that doesn’t matter because then it’s a face full of smoke after! This is amazing. Give me a 2 oz pour every night as a nightcap for the rest of my life and I will die with a giant smile on my face.
A very drunk dude and his buddy stumbled up to me at this point to give me his ten plus drink tickets that he clearly never used one of. Thanks man, appreciate it, but they ultimately ended up in the trash at home.
Kent Falls Brewing Company Medio Barrel Aged Farmhouse (Kent, CT) – Oh, this is a sour. My mistake on thinking this was a BBA Farmhouse, which I thought would’ve been a really interesting/unique twist on a fun style. Pardon me for being the optimist. It’s… whatever. Sours do absolutely nothing for me, sorry that crowd.
Okay, I think I’m approaching “The Cliff.” You can tell because my choices have gone away from a targeted approach and become largely based on something just catching my attention.
Against the Grain 70k BBA Milk Stout (Louisville, KY) – I want to like this more because of the awesome name of this brewery, but it’s not good. It’s off in some way… I can’t tell what they were going for here, but the best way that I can describe is that the flavors seem to clash. Oh I need more nachos.
Burgeon Beer Company In Parallel Double IPA (Carlsbad, CA) – Burgeon is by far the closest local brewery to me here, and I would totally go more often if it wasn’t always so damn packed. Their beer is undeniably good though. I saw Vic Secret hops were in this and it was over. Really dry finish which is weird for a DIPA, but it’s good. I need to go get a pint some weekend.
Cerebral Brewing Burner Phone Double IPA (Denver, CO) – This is dank as fuck. Not to abuse that term, but it’s majorly funky without any hint of citrus. THIS BURNER PHONE, I CALL IT IN WALKS BARBARELLA BECAUSE IT’S WEAPONIZED FUNK.
Resident Culture Brewing Dance ’till You’re Dead Triple IPA (Charlotte, NC) – This is funky as hell too. I think there’s some Nelson hops in there, which detracts from the taste a little for me, but this is undeniably powerful. I’d like to try more from them. Maybe the Wolven Sort can send some my way.
Humble Seas Brewing (Santa Cruz, CA) – IPA of some kind: Probably better than I can taste. Fuck. Let’s go get some tacos.
[Banner image via Sam Taylor’s awesome artwork]