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High on Fridays or is it the drugs?

It’s Friday and the Ramones are jamming on the CD player. Me, I’m hunkered down in my office. The tasting bar is packed and Marty is doing a brisk business of selling pork products from his hot dog cart out front. What beer am I drinking as I type this? The clear alcohol free kind known as Holy Water. You see, two days ago, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather and no, I didn’t have the botella influenza. Seems that I am the victim of either too much work or perhaps my 3 year old petri dish known as Sydney who just started preschool last week might have infected daddy. Sucks but I am definitely not 100% right now and with Denver next week, I am trying my best to lay low so that I can get well.

I am on my third set of Cough Medicine and hoping that by the time I am done swallowing these orange pills, I will feel better. As we just tapped the High Tide at 4 PM today, I would REALLY like to be having one right about now. I also would very much like to be downtown at the San Diego Festival of Beers. Haven’t missed one of these in a VERY long time! But such is life. In spite of all my woes, I will say that last night (before I broke down and started pumping my body full of meds) we had our annual tasting for our GABF beers here at the brewery.

This is the first year that we have done this outside of the Pizza Port beers but since the three locations are sending a total of 34 beers this year and we’re sending 8 from Lost Abbey and 5 from Port Brewing, it was just impossible to do them all in one night. Jeff came out from Carlsbad last night and we ran down the list of beers that we’re sending to Denver. Not everything scored highly but that’s to be expected. Bottling does weird things to beers.

We started with Midnight Sessions and Hot Rocks. Neither really WOWs me at the moment. They were bottled so long ago that I just kind of throw my hands in the air and hope. Not expecting this to be part of our year. Moved sideways and had some Carnevale and Inferno. Both of these are awesome drinking beers. A brett based Saison has never done well in the category we enterered so we’ll see. The Inferno may just be the most stylistically perfect beer we sent. It’s fluffy and smashingly drinkable which is awesome. And, this Pale Strong Belgian Ale type beer usually does very well in this category. High hopes for this one.

We opened some Wipeout, Panzer Pils and Hop 15 next. It’s funny because the Wipeout is so incredibly clean. But there seems to be this notion that the hop aroma should be more over the top. It tasted amazing but Aroma is very important. Well built either way and a beer we make and drink a ton of around here. The Panzer really has all the essence of a great Imperial Pils and I hope for Julian’s sake it scores well (read medals). This is our Pro Am entry. Basically a homebrewer and professional brewer collaborate on a homebrewer’s award winning recipe and brew it for commercial sale. This year we nailed the parameters for Panzer and Julian agrees. The Hop 15 won a bronze medal last year (don’t ask me how). None of us scored it well during the tasting. Yet there it was winning Alpha King and a bronze GABF medal. Weird. This years batch has nice flavor and it’s no slouch in the hops department. But then again this is one of the hardest categories at the fest to win. So…

Post Hoppy beer land, we turned our attention to Sour beer land (it’s like Candyland for adults). In Sour Beer land, we didn’t see any Oompa Loompahs but we did find some Duck Duck Gooze, Cuvee and In Veritas Vino 005. The Duck Duck has the necessary Acetic character to win and the depth is great. Jeff says maybe too sweet? The Cuvee is the best bottling we have ever done. Sure, there have been better kegs and single barrels but as a matter of course, this is just a nice blend of barrels. Cuvee didn’t win last year but this year the beer isn’t a shadow of its former self. Nope, it’s the paradigm of blending for us.

In Veritas Vino is an experimental beer and we think it has awesome character. And that’s all I have to say about that… We also opened a bottle of Red Poppy. This was the third year we have made Red Poppy and it’s clearly the best batch as well. The oak might be overstated for style but not in my heart. So tasty. The beer will be on the festival floor which won’t suck.

Lastly, we moved into Black beer territory with some Serpent’s Stout and a wee bit of Older Viscosity. I love me some Serpent’s but this batch didn’t sit well in the bottle and I’m not feeling it. The Older Viscosity has all the depth you would expect of a bourbon beer. The only issue we could ding it for was that the body seems too light. I mean the beer is 11.5% ABV so how light can the body be? Yet, it just doesn’t have “that” chewiness thing going on in the beer. Drinks like it’s so much lighter. You know the way we want it to be.

So that’s it for now. One week from tomorrow, we’ll be in Denver. One week from right now, the Judging will have officially have ended and the trophy people will be busy working on their part. It would be great to add some more hardware to our collection. This year there are over 3200 beers entered in the competition. That’s beyond comprehension. So many beers so little time. And to think, I’m on drugs right now.
Who knew?

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