Friday, June 28, 2013


This past Saturday I spent a few hours in the company of some fairly incredible beer. A San Francisco downtown gallery hosted a RATE BEER-sponsored/promoted event that perhaps didn't quite get the coverage it deserved (it was underattended) and which sorta just appeared in my Twitter stream a few weeks before it happened. I looked over the list of who was bringing beer and was agog, as you might have been. Sante Adairius Rustic Ales; Mikkeller; Almanac Beer Co; Prairie Artisan Ales; Russian River Brewing; Logsdon; The Bruery – and others. A "who's who" of Beer Samizdat favorites. Of course I had to check it out.

I'm pretty sure you would have enjoyed it. Each brewer brought rarities, for the most part, so it was absolute beer dork heaven. $50 got you unlimited tastes for four hours, and given the small crowd, that's a lot of tastes (jeez, no wonder I was so sluggish and whiny the rest of the weekend). There was one overwhelming "winner", as far as I'm concerned – and that's really saying something, given the stellar lineup. PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES. Sweet jesus. These Oklahoma upstarts blew me away with two of the finest ales I've had in a year and then some: "STANDARD", a spicy saison; and "THE BOMB", a 14% abv coffee ice cream/vanilla bean imperial stout that was so amazing I waited in the only line of the day twice to get some. Everyone was flipping out over this thing. It is available in 12-ounce bottles, and from what I gather, if you can find it you'd better hoard it, because it's already generating a ton of hoopla.

I think it's time to anoint Prairie as one of the United States' top-tier brewers already. That's 4 I've had from them now, each one an incredible tribute to the art of beermaking. It's weird to see someone beating out Sante Adairius for anything – since they're the last brewer I anointed as worthy of bestowment of an A rating – but this day, at least, someone did. (The Sante Adairius beer I had was phenomenal as well, by the way). My full ratings, ranked in order:

  1. PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES – The Bomb (10/10)
  2. PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES – Prairie Standard (10/10)
  3. SANTE ADAIRIUS RUSTIC ALES – Sea Blonde (9/10)
  4. LOGSDON ORGANIC FARMHOUSE ALES - Oak–Aged Bretta (8/10)
  5. STILLWATER ARTISANAL ALES – Existent (7.5/10)
  6. LAGUNITAS BREWING – Sonoma Farmhouse Blend (7.5/10)
  7. MOONLIGHT BREWING – Misspent Youth (7/10)
  8. THE BRUERY – Confession (7/10)
  9. DRAKES BREWING – Son of a Dad Double Black IPA (7/10)
  10. STONE BREWING – Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA (6.5/10)
As I do after every single multi-hour beer event I go to, I declared this one "my last beer event ever". We'll have to see about that.

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