Barley Wine Rules at Toronado Fest
by Tom Dalldorf
San Francisco -- The City by the Bay became the country's Barley Wine Mecca last February 15-22 as some of the nation's premier producers of beerdom's Brobdingnagian brew rolled into town with casks in hand. Toronado's unassuming owner David Keene was like the hooker that couldn't say no, and late entries drove the count at the legendary pub to nearly 50 barley wines on draught at one time!
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Russ Wigglesworth did his usual fine job of managing the judging of such a large number of beers. After two preliminary rounds, the remaining six beers were forwarded to the final panel. The judges easily arrived at the top three, only to be immersed in a life-or-death struggle for top barley wine of the fest. One side favored the richly hued and marvelously textured, albeit heavily hopped, contender, while an equally passionate bloc favored a richly malty and decidedly woody contender.
The need to get on with the festival finally prevailed, and the judges agreed to the following: First place went to 1986 Big Head Barley Wine from Barley & Hopps, San Mateo (closed for three years), and second went to 1998 Old Boilermaker from Full Sail in Hood River, Ore.
Lovers of the big beers have their Olympics on an annual basis. Dave's just going to have to get a bigger place!
Toronado Barleywine Fest
Former Winning Breweries
2002Stuffed Pizza, San Diego, Calif.
2001Rogue Ales, Newport, Ore.
2000Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Boonville, Calif.
199920 Tank, San Francisco, Calif.
1998Hair of the Dog, Portland, Ore.
1997Barley & Hopps, San Mateo, Calif.
1996Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.
1995Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, Calif.
1994People's Choice voting (not judged)
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