After having such a great time at this past summer’s Phinney Beer Taste, I decided to check out the fall/winter version of the same event. I have to say how impressed I am with the way the Phinney Neighborhood Association puts this event together. They only sell a finite amount of tickets, have some really great sponsors (74th Street Ale House for this one), put together a great selection of beers and breweries, and hold the event at the historic 1904 John B. Allen Elementary School (Live music and food was also provided).
Quite a few more people showed up for this one compared to the summer tasting, but to compensate there were about 8 more breweries. A lot of the breweries were sporting their winter brews. Winter brews are usually Strong Ales with a bunch of nuts, berries, spices, and you name it thrown in to celebrate the season. To me, many of the winter brews taste like I’m the liquid version of a fruitcake. That said, I did try my fair share of winter ales last night and I actually like a couple of them.
Hands down, the best beer of the night went to Diamond Knot’s Industrial Ho Ho Ale. They were serving it on cask, so they had a leg up on everyone already. But this beer didn’t over do it with any one thing, it was just a solid strong ale with good hops and a bit of malt to smooth it out. I went back for seconds for this one, because finding any Diamond Knot on tap around town can be a difficult endeavor.
First Runner Up was the Anacortes ESB. This was a very nice beer that went down very easy, had a good complex taste and not too much alcohol.
Second Runner up for me was Fish’s Winterfish Seasonal Ale. If I had to compare it, I think Sierra Nevada’s Celebration ale would be a good reference. Good, but not outstanding.
Best costumes for the night went to Baron for their Leiderhosen, their doppelbock was well liked too.
Award for beer that tastes like a port wine went to Harmon’s Strong Seasonal Ale. A little of this went a long way. In fact I challenge anyone to actually sit down a drink a full pint of this stuff. It had strong (and I do mean strong!) undertones of cherries and currants. Good stuff, but I’d call it a desert beer.
One disappointment was Lazy Boy’s Mistletoe Bliss. I was really impressed with their IPA earlier this summer, but their winter brew just didn’t have that much of a bang, in fact it was down right dull. Maybe it was a bad batch, I’ll give ’em the benefit of the doubt on this one.
A good time seemed to be had by all. Especially since we could walk home from the conveniently located Phinney Center!
Parting Shot: Why can’t any of the live music venues in town serve some decent beer? Seriously, I think only the Tractor in Ballard has a decent selection on tap. Is it really that hard to have a good local IPA, ESP, Porter, etc. from say a Boundary Bay, Diamond Knot, Bottleworks, or Harmon on tap? I for one am tired of having to choose from either the Euro green bottles or the generic pale ale that most places serve. Do they not make a big enough profit from good beer, or do is it not available from their distributor, or do they just have boring taste in beer? It certainly isn’t because Seattle doesn’t have any good beers!