A weekend with one beer event is fun but to have two great bashes with fantastic gourmet food in one weekend is incredible. For craft beer geeks, last weekend was like having two birthday parties spread over two days.
First up was the Woodshop 5.1 blind tasting at Blue Palms Brewhouse. 24 taps of unidentified beer. And if that wasn’t enough, it was a bottle share as well. And if that wasn’t enough, you could get a brunch inspired by the beer with beer in the recipes. Oh and beer mimosas.
The day started at 9:30 in the morning with fruit, Belgian breakfast burritos, truffle hash browns, cornmeal pancakes and crepes. We also drank orange juice and Triple Karmeliet, a Belgian ale. I went heavy on the OJ because I had a day full of beer ahead of me plus I was wary of the combination. To my surprise, the mixture worked. The beer added an extra set of flavors to the orange juice.
Now fortified, it was time to move onto a very special beer before the taps were set to flow their mysterious brews. Odonata Saison from the new brewery in Sacramento made its debut in Los Angeles. It was quite delicious. A good sparkle to it with some hints of vanilla in the background. This is a beer that may not make it down here in large quantities so if you see it, grab it. It was one of the best beers of the day.
Once the taps opened it was time to pick a number and see what beer you got. The first beer (as I found out later) was a bitter from Green Flash that was the low point of the day. Not good at all from aroma down to taste, but after that, a bunch of great beers emerged. Fresh Hopsickle from Moylan’s in Marin County. Chico IPA from Sierra Nevada. An interesting Wild Ale from New Belgium that was rich and sour at the same time.
Then there were the shared bottles that came around to my table. First, thanks to all who shared. I got quick hits from breweries near and far and home brew as well. Standouts were Flossmoor Station, Bell’s and the shitake mushroom beer (that I brought) from Epic Ales in Seattle. To top it off there was also a great plum dessert from the new Eagle Rock restaurant, Four Cafe.
If you get an invitation to any future Woodshop events, jump at the chance. Dave Watrous and Chris Quiroga put a lot of work into these and it shows. Then you add in Brian Lenzo and his great staff at Blue Palms and the value goes up. You get your money’s worth and then some.
Before I knew it, it was Sunday, time for more beer and more excellent food. This time courtesy of the combined talents of Gev Kazanchyan, Tony’s Darts Away, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and Randy Clemens. All in the name of charity. Proceeds benefited the Real Medicine Foundation.
There were five beers plus a special dessert beer and five food courses. Even trying to pace myself, I was really full by the time the dessert rolled around.
The beers included Solace, Humboldt Brown, Unfiltered Double Barrel, Robust Porter and Union Jack. The Porter was my favorite of the quintet. It had quite a bit of chocolate and coffee notes without being an absolute alcohol bomb. Of course my second favorite was the Parabola, which came with the surprise dessert. It had some serious wine notes and took me quite awhile to sip my through.
On the food front were two different styles of fries. Regular with a gravy of beer and beef stock and a glazed sweet potato version with crushed almonds and bleu cheese which were my winners as well as three different sausage presentations. As usual, when this talented group gets together the food and the beer really sing. And you will leave having tried something you haven’t encountered before.
The spotlight beer of the week is the 14th Anniversary Emperial from Stone Brewing. This is an English inspired IPA with San Diego hop forward characteristics. This IPA might catch you off guard. The mixture of hops includes some that I have never heard of before create a spicy/woodsy aroma and taste. And it is not hop overloaded, you can drink this bitter brew without completely overtaxing your taste buds.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.