It’s all about the who, not the what

Every year for the last fourteen years or so, I have gotten together around this time of year with Ron, Max, and Don. We all live far, far away from each other, and have our own familial and employment commitments, but for one long weekend we leave all that beyond (well, mostly) and catch up on our lives and drink some really good beer.

Well, I’ve just returned from the airport and it’s awfully quiet here. (We’ve waxed on about our Octoberfest weekends before, so I won’t tread over that same ground again.) I was glad to have the entire Hop Talk Advisory Council in attendance. Sadly, tomorrow is back to the old grind.

We had some really interesting beers this time around, and there were a lot that none of us have ever had before. In no particular order:


* We shared a 12-ounce bottle amongst us

A D M R – Picked as a favorite by Al, Don, Max and Ron respectively

Freshest Octoberfest

It doesn’t get much fresher than this… I grabbed some of the first Saranac Octoberfest beer from the brewery today. She even had to fetch them from the back. I think I need to get one in an ice water bath so I can have it tonight.

Also note the cool ADK pint glass. My sister-in-law picked this one up for her friend; they had many other frosted glasses with things like: DAD, OMG, WTF, BEER, and many others. (ADK is for Adirondacks)

It’s over

All good things must come to an end, and so our “O-fest 2009” celebration is over. It was good to see Ron and Max and Don again; it happens all-too-rarely anymore. We stayed up way too late, got up way too early, ate way too much bad food, and had way too much lots of beer. My eyes are dried out from not blinking while driving really, really fast in Burnout Paradise and shooting hundreds of monsters in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, plus a few other video games and a rousing game of Munchkin. These old bones can’t take sleeping on floors much anymore, but it was all worth it. Don’s friend Vic also joined us for an evening, which was fun and, in the spirit of things, brought four six-packs of his own.

Thanks guys. Let’s do it again next year.

We were only able to get through about half of the beer, so I left with about as much as I arrived with.

Here’s a (more-or-less complete) list of what we brought, in no particular order:

  • Ithaca Cascazilla
  • Green Flash IPA
  • Victory Moonglow
  • Lake Placid Ubu Ale
  • Stone Levitation Ale
  • Unibroue Trois Pistoles
  • Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse
  • Fort Collins Chocolate Stout
  • Troëgs Dead Reckoning Porter
  • Troëgs Java Head Stout
  • Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner
  • Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA
  • Flying Dog Canis Major mixed pack
    • Gonzo Imperial Porter
    • Kerberos Tripel
    • Double Dog Double Pale Ale
    • Horn Dog Barley Wine
  • Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils
  • Goose Island Honker’s Ale
  • Southampton IPA
  • Newcastle Brown Ale
  • Guinness Stout
  • Guinness Draught
  • Paulaner’s Octoberfest Märzen
  • Blue Point Toasted Lager
  • Morland Old Speckled Hen
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
  • New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
  • Arcadia Jaw-Jacker Ale
  • New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout
  • Captain Lawrence “Smoke from the Oak” from Apple Brandy barrels
  • Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout
  • Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

O-fest 2009

Today begins the “official” (note inappropriate use of air quotes) start of our annual Oktoberfest celebration. We’ve been doing this for years and this is the one weekend a year that we carve out for ourselves. It has become harder over the years as each of us has gotten married, had kids, bought a house, et cetera. We’ve also gotten farther apart physically; the closest any of us are to the other is at least a two-hour drive.

Our general modus operandi is this: We each bring our computers and network them up for some digital mayhem. When we’re not doing that we’ll play cards or watch a movie, or even go out in the world to get some of the local cuisine (boy, I miss New Jersey pizza) or something crazy like tour a brewery. But—and this is why I’m writing this—we each bring four (or so) six-packs of some interesting beer (or some bombers, or growlers, or whatever) to share.

Over the course of this long weekend we’ll catch up on the goings-on of our lives, have a lot of laughs, and drink some pretty good beer.

Oh, this is also a meeting of the Hop Talk Advisory Council. They’ll be helping me with my Beer-a-Day project for the next few days.

Blue Point Oktoberfest

Beer-a-Day #274Blue Point Oktoberfest

This is one of the prettiest beer labels I’ve ever seen.

Nice harvest gold color with two fingers of head. Nice caramel-like aroma from the malt with a bit of grassiness from the hops. Not as sweet as I expected; clean, with medium body. It’s pretty good; I’d gladly have that again.

Blue Point Brewing Company

Starr Hill Festie

Beer-a-Day #272Starr Hill Festie

Rich and malty, Festie is available in September and October, and is our tribute to the great German lager. Its name invokes the German tradition of Oktoberfest, while also paying homage to the end of the summer music festival season.

I’m really beginning to like what I’ve been having from Starr Hill. After having never seen them ever, I’m now seeing them all over the place.

Medium gold color. Soft, malty aroma. Lighter than I was expecting. Still, it’s pretty good. I’d gladly have this again.

Starr Hill Brewery Festie

Saranac Octoberfest

Beer-a-Day #265Saranac Octoberfest

Woo-hoo! Only 100 beers left to go!

Saranac Octoberfest is a med-bodied, copper colored lager. It’s rich, malty taste is subtly balanced by Saaz and Tettnang hops. The beer is aged slowly in the tradition of the Octoberfest beers of Munich.

Golden color with a little red. Nice malty aroma. Medium body with a very nice finish. I like it.

Saranac Octoberfest

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Beer-a-Day #258Samuel Adams Octoberfest

The first thing you notice when pouring a glass of this seasonal beer is the color. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest has a rich, deep golden amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest is a malt lover’s dream, masterfully blending together five roasts of barley to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee. The beer is kept from being overly sweet by the elegant bitterness imparted by the German Noble hops. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the winter’s heartier brews.

Deep amber with orange highlights. Malty aroma with a bit of woodiness. Medium body nicely balanced. I like it.

Samuel Adams

Weihenstephaner Festbier

Beer-a-Day #253Weihenstephaner Festbier (photo © Christopher Vigliotti)

A full rich bodied, hoppy, seasonal lager. Especially brewed for the Festbier season. This beer truly represents the Bavarian way of celebrating. Deep gold color, great mouthfeel and lots of flavor. Prost!

Tonight is the kickoff of the 2009 NFL season and, thus, the unofficial start of Autumn. This is my favorite time of year. Football (American) is my favorite sport. (My only sport, really.) And I have a special place in my heart for Oktoberfest beers. Time to celebrate!

Pale yellow, clear with a white head. Grassy hops. A touch sweet with some interesting toastiness. Good stuff.

Weihenstephaner Festbier