Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

The Bistro Barrel-Aged Beer Fest Winners

By William Brand
Saturday, November 11th, 2006 at 9:24 pm in Uncategorized.


HAYWARD, CA. – The first-ever Barrel-Aged Beer Festival at the Bistro, 1001 B. St. was a rousing success. What’s more, it was a blast. I’m guessing the crowd at well over 400, a total mix of people, from senior citizens to folks in their 20s, both men and women. This was far from an all-male crowd.

Bistro proprietor Vic Kralj, one of the Bay Area’s true, cutting-edge beer enthusiasts, said there were 42 beers, each either aged in barrels or on wood.

Caption: The commemorative glass given
each festgoer for the price of admission.
Pours were two ounces, $25 admission
bought 10 pours.

The judges took nearly five hours to pick the winners in a professional, blind tasting, in four classes, awarding first place gold, silver and bronze medals and chosing a grand champion.

The winners are:

Grand champion barrel-aged beer, chosen in a final blind tasting of the four gold medal beers, was Old Viscosity, brewed by Tomme Arthur, Pizza Port Brewing, San Marcos, CA. A dynamite, 12 percent alcohol by volume brew, aged six months in a Heaven Hill Bourbon barrel.

The class winners:

Sour (beers made using wild yeast and aged on wood), six entries.

Gold: Depuration Vintage 2005, brewer Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA. Blond ale aged in wine barrel with white wine grapes adds. Wild yeast: Brettanomyces, and bacteria that was in the wood of the barrel.

Bourbon (aged in used bourbon or whiskey barrels), 20 entries.

Gold: Old Viscosity.

Silver: Parabola Imperial Oatmeal Stout
, Matt Brynildson and his brew crew, Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA., 13 percent, fermented in new American oak, then in a bourbon barrel for eight months.

Bronze: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barley-Wine Style Ale, 12.2 percent, brewer Doug Sesterhenn, cellar operations manager, Sierra Nevada, Chico, CA, started in Kentucky bourbon barrels, which had first been filled with single malt whiskey at St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA.


Wine, (aged in used wine, brandy, port, or Madeira barrels, 10 entries.

Gold: Blue Frog, Fifth Anniversary Scotch Ale, 11.2 percent,. Nick Campbell brewer, Blue Frog Grog & Grill, Fairfax, CA., aged six months in an Estate Syrah wine barrel.

Silver: The Angel’s Share, 12.5 percent, Pizza Port Brewing, Tomme Arthur, English-style barleywine, aged six months in a brandy barrel.

Bronze: North Coast Old Stock Ale 2004, 14.7 percent, North Coast, Fort Bragg, CA., made by North Coast brew crew. Aged one year in a brandy barrel.

Wood (aged in new oak barrels), 6 entries.

Gold: Glacier Ukranian Imperial Stout, 9.21 percent, Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage, AK., Kevin Burton brewer, aged eight months in a new Ukranian oak barrel.

Silver: Firestone Walker 10, 12 percent, Firestone Walker,  a beer blended from several others, aged 10 months in an oak barrel. (For more on this beer, check out my Beer of the Week, this coming Wednesday: Nov. 15, 2006.)

Bronze: Devil’s Canyon Barrel of Monkeys Barley Wine, 16 percent-plus, Devils Canyon Brewing, Belmont, CA., Christ Garrett, aged six and one-half months in oak.

People’s Choice Award (popular vote) Glacier Ukranian Imperial Stout.
Finally, Vic Kralj has prepared an elaborate, three-page list of all the entries with details about each beer. As soon as he gives me the PDF file, I’m going to post it.

Historic day. Whew!

Got a comment? Think the oak and vanilla one gets from a wooden barrel is upchucking? Some do. Let me know. Post a comment here or e-mail me at: whatsontap@sbcglobal.net.

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