Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Boonville Beer Fest

16th Annual Boonville Beer Festival
I like beer. I like it a lot. It makes me happy to drink it, I get happy just thinking about it. In the West Coast--particularly Northern California--craftbrewing is a cult-like obsession. The best brewmasters in the world live there as do the snobbiest drinkers. They go hand-in-hand in fact; obviously the people with the best tastes are going to be producing beer that tastes the best.

This is all common sense, but what might not be commonly sensible is the fact that one of the greatest beer drinking events in the world occurs annually in a Mendocino County town with a population of just over 1,000. Boonville, California is home to the award-winning Anderson Valley Brewing Company, producers of a lovable line of satisfying suds like the caramel and toffee-tinged Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale. The pastoral mountain town is also the setting of an annual party to which some of the 50 greatest beers on the planet are all invited. And although the Mendocino County Fair is only a few acres, every year on the second Saturday of May it represents the Mecca of microbrewing.

Knee Deep Brewing Company

For just under $50, you can spend the entire afternoon sampling unlimited amounts of porters, stouts, lagers, sours, IPAs, wheats, Belgians, wild ales, barleywines, pilsners, doppelbocks, saisons, lambics, bittersKölschs, Imperial IPAs and stouts or even the occasional trippel. Am I missing anything? Probably, because at around this time of day I passed out behind the shade of an old pickup truck.

But that was well after enjoying mind-numbing offerings from Knee Deep Brewing Company--with their award-winning Hoptologist DIPA, the illustrious pinot barrel-aged Supplication sour by Russian River and a whole slew of lesser-known-but-equally-magnificent micros like the Space Oddity from Redwood Curtain Brewing Company in Arcata. They experiment with all kinds of flavorful hybrids such as Belgian Style Porter or Imperial Golden Ale, and are all very difficult to find anywhere outside of Humboldt County.

Bear Republic out of Sonoma had a few selections on tap that I had never seen before but none were as memorable as the Campfire Stout from High Water Brewing out of Redwood; dark and delicious with the mouth-watering tones of melted marshmallows. I am making myself very thirsty right now and extraordinarily jealous of my former self. 

There were of course a few other things going on that day. I distinctly remember eating a bunch of deep-fried pickles while listening to a band of unknown genre play some entirely unmemorable tunes. 

Show Me The Way To The Next Beer On Draft...
After the festival ended in the early evening, local restaurants served up veggie pies and seafood dishes of questionable origin to patrons that were drunk enough to enjoy just about anything. In exchange, I offered our waitress some homemade quinoa salad which she seemed to enjoy. 

The evening ends with much deserved rest around the campfire as some final bottles of local libations are consumed on a subdued evening at the nearby campgrounds. Ultimately, in looking back, I am filled with a certain sense of sadness: all I have now are a bunch of fuzzy memories to hold me over until next year's go-around. 

Next time I'd be smarter to try smaller pours so as to enjoy a little bit more of everything before slipping out of consciousness. Can't guarantee that will happen, but I can guarantee that I shall return triumphantly to the Anderson Valley on the second Saturday of every May, ready to rock. Good God, I love beer so much.


  1. nice idea.. thanks for sharing..

  2. It was an awesome festival this year...Barkley had a great time too. Save the date for May 4th, 2013!