Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Boontstock 2009

By Jay Brooks
Monday, May 4th, 2009 at 12:16 pm in On Beer.

The lucky 13th annual Boonville Beer Festival, which over the last decade has grown into one of the best festivals in the area, turned into Boontstock this weekend as several inches of rain poured down on the Anderson Valley. The mud and rain might have doomed a lesser beer festival, but Boonville proved to be made of sterner stuff. I confess I expected the turnout to be lighter this year with the promise of rain all weekend hanging in the air. But by all accounts, this year’s festival was as well-attended as any, with festival-goes showing great ingenuity in their attempts to stay dry.

Anderson Valley Brewing

As always, the festival is sponsored by Anderson Valley Brewing, which is located in the small town of Boonville, roughly two hours north of San Francisco, the last thirty miles or so making Lombard Street look straight by comparison. The Mendocino County Fairgrounds becomes a tent city as thousands invade the town and camp right next door to where the festival takes place.

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As promised, the rains came down, especially at the beginning of the festival, dumping a few inches on Saturday.

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The brewers stayed mostly dry under tents, animal stalls and wooden stands. Here, David Gatlin, brewmaster, and Ken Allen, owner of Anderson Valley Brewing, the festival’s sponsor, stay relatively dry under a makeshift plastic roof.

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Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, who debuted their first beer in a new beer series, Empirical 7, along with Rich Norgrove, owner and brewmaster at Bear Republic Brewing.

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So while the brewers stayed dry, everyone else didn’t seem to mind the rain at all.

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One of the Bay Area’s newest breweries, Ale Industries in Concord, was also pouring a Wit Lager, which brewmaster Morgan Cox described as essentially a wit beer brewed with lager yeast.

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As the rain came and went throughout the afternoon, people figured out unique ways to sample the beer and remain dry, such as these huddled masses, yearning to drink free.

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Brian Hunt, from Moonlight Brewing, offers a final toast from Boontstock 2009.

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  • Arnas

    Any more info on Russian River’s Empirical 7?

  • Jay R. Brooks

    Arnas, Yes. As it happens, I’m sitting at Russian River Brewing as I type these words. The Empirical series will all be Brett-finished beers. The Empirical 7 is 7% a.b.v. and starts with their regular house ale yeast but is finished with Brettanomyces, but no Lacto or Pediococcus. Also, the beer is not aged on wood. Although Vinnie won’t say so, it reminded me somewhat of a Saison.

  • Arnas

    You’re not alone, the 7 is categorized as a saison on BA/RB. Thanks for the info.

  • craig

    it was wet…very wet…but once again the camping was better than the fest(even with the price increase)..everyone who stopped by our campsite said our homebrew on tap was best of show…free beer usually does taste better..it was so wet i thought about not attending next year…but finishing off the beer sunday morning …watching everyone pack up camp…i decided how could i stay away next year..now it is on to sacto on may 9th and 16th for their beerfests and vegas on may 30th for theirs…the bay area is lagging(as always) when it comes to beer fests….cheers