Brew babble and motherpuckers
What a difference a year makes.
Last year, the inaugural event for the first-ever Sacramento Beer Week was held at the scruffy Colonial Theatre, and the featured speaker, local historian Ed Carroll, was all but drowned out by a sea of bros who hooted every time someone uttered the word “beer.”
This year, the opening party went down at the pristine and gleaming new addition to the Crocker Art Museum, and Beer Week organizer Dan Scott wisely did not tap any speakers to do battle with the brew babble.
All the local brew luminaries were in attendance—Rob Archie from Pangaea Two Brews Cafe, Gary Sleppy from The Shack, Vince Sterne from Two Rivers Cider Company, Scott Cramlet from the Rubicon Brewing Company (in his signature shorts and galoshes, which were highly appropriate for the stormy weather).
This time the crowd also seemed to be more of a mix of old and young, the artsy-fartsy and the fleece-clad. A cool, lanky, long-haired dude who must have just passed the threshold of legal-drinking age proclaimed, “I’m about to go in for a sour; that was delicious!” He was referring to the sauer bock, a Sudwerk-brewed weizenbock that had been pitched with lactobacillus and barrel aged for eight months; the better to stew in its own tart juices.
Sudwerk wasn’t the only brewery bringing its A-game this year. Many were extolling the virtues of the kölsch made by peripatetic brewmaster Peter Hoey, of the late Sacramento Brewing Company and Odonata Beer Company, who has now landed at Sutter Buttes Brewing in Yuba City. The kölsch was utterly fresh with the signature hop backbone of this German style of beer. The Sierra Nevada Sloughhouse Pale Ale, brewed specifically for Sacramento Beer Week, is an English bitter brewed with California hops, which resulted in a green-bud taste well-suited to our zooted burg.
Another welcome change was the quality of the pub grub dished by the Crocker Cafe, which is operated by Patrick and Bobbin Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s Building & Loan. They were offering a menu of gourmet small plates at bargain prices, including some decadent, greasy, spicy nachos, classed up a bit by lightly pickled red onions. The cafe staff handled the crush with aplomb.
In contrast, the mood was bittersweet at the sour fest at Samuel Horne’s Tavern in Folsom on Saturday. The reason for the melancholy? We were quaffing the last keg ever of Odonata’s sour Rosa. And a real mouthpuckerer it was; the wild yeast responsible for the tartness had been working its magic since about July 2008, according to Rick Sellers of the defunct brewery. Rosa swept the blind-panel judging; its lemony freshness and mouthwatering acidity could have held its own against any Russian River sour, which was only fitting, since Rosa had been brewed with a proprietary blend of yeast obtained from that Santa Rosa brewery, hence the name.
All this excitement and there is still one more Beer Week weekend to go!