Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Bottled Gold – On Sale in Northern California

By William Brand
Friday, October 8th, 2004 at 2:49 pm in Uncategorized.

OAKLAND _ In my newspaper column Wednesday I listed details on a number of gold, silver and bronze medals won by brewers from the Bay Area at last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Most are available only at the brewpub or at a few selected stores.
However, a number of bottled beers _ widely available in California _ also won awards at the GABF.
Here’s a selection of first place gold medal winners
— Cascade Ale, Deschutes Brewing, Bend, OR. Deschutes beers can be found easily in the San Francisco Bay Area, but they too often are overshadowed by other more famous, more extreme brews. So it’s nice to see a professional panel place this fine session beer at the top of the heap. It won in the English-style Summer Ale category: mild, herbal nose, malty taste, dry follow with strong citrus notes.
– Cave-Aged Hennepin, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY. Hennepin winning gold is no surprise; made in the Belgian saison ( or the French bier de garde) style, regular Hennepin is a delight: earthy nose, sparkling pour, light delicious taste, long mellow follow. Cave-Aged Hennepin was stored 250 feet below the surface in a New York state cave, where the temperature is a constant 52 degrees F. Nice gimmick. Great beer: silky and mellow.
When I have wine-drinker friends visit who “just don’t like beer,’’ I always bring out the Hennepin. It’s an eye-opener.
– Drop Top Amber, Widmer Brothers, Portland, OR. This is a straightforward amber ale with an unusual touch of sweetness from a bit of honey malt and milk sugar _ the Widmers say. Also, Hops are Magnum and Simcoe _ both increasingly used for their aroma and bittering abilities. Category was Bitter; there were 29 entries.
Widmer also won gold for Alt _ a very drinkable, malty, German-style ale. It once was bottled and sold as Springfest. But now, it’s only sold on tap at the Widmer pub _ called Gasthaus _ and at other pubs around Portland. Our loss.
– Hefe-Weizen,Pyramid, Seattle, WA. This is the same beer made at Pyramid’s Berkeley brewery. It’s unfiltered with a clean, hoppy taste.
— Sam Adams Milennium, Boston Brewing Co., Boston, MA. This amazing 20 percent ABV beer won gold in the Experimental category, competing against 28 other entries. Jim Koch, of Boston Brewing made just 3,000 bottles for the turn of the century and sold them at $100 each (as I recall). It was and is a press agent’s dream. P.T. Barnum would have loved this baby. A college professor paid $4,900 for the first bottle. Today (Oct. 7) bottle number 430 still in its wooden box was for sale on Ebay. Top bid in the ongoing auction was $356.
My notes said it tasted like an old port: plum and vanilla and alcohol. Young and wild. In a decade it will be awesome. — William Brand
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