has come and gone. I regret not attending the whole conference (too much $), as there were some neat talks lined up, but I did make it up to Oakland for a few events. First was the BJCP reception dinner. Sean Paxton cooked up a three course meal - greens with roasted tomato and Union Jack IPA dressing and candied walnuts, a chicken thing made with a wit (21st Amendment, I think) , and .... a dessert thing with RR Damnation. I'm still kind of tired. Gail over at Beer by BART did a better job summing up the conference. I sat next to her at the dinner and judged with her on Thursday, so some of the experience is similar. The talk was great, the off-flavor tasting was interesting, too.
Judging! That was fun. My first actual judging experience, and the second round of the national homebrew competition, no less! I didn't specify a category preference, and ended up on 23 and 18. That's Specialty Beer (ie, "Other", and spice, fruit, smoke, and wood aging are already covered, so, maybe you get the picture) in the morning and Belgian Strong Ale (think Chimay, Leffe, Delirium, Piraat, etc...) in the afternoon. The morning session started at 8:30am. Yes, that is far too early. But, that said, I had some very nice beers in both sessions and had a lot of fun earning my first judging point. That's right, we can level up.
I also made it up for Club Night on Friday. This is the night where the Ale Camino (pic in Gail's post) was to be found serving up beers. Highlights for me included a nice black kolsch, a 24% barleywine, mango mead, a California common with NO Northern Brewer hops in it, and a really fantastic rose saison. Also, tasting things brewed by a couple of my beer authors: I had an amber brewed by John Palmer and Jamil Z's flanders red. Although, to be honest, I thought the amber had a slight burnt taste to it... Still, that was cool. As was seeing them and Charlie Papazian just walkin' around. Shared an elevator with Ken Grossman (although I was too sleepy to even muster a hungover "Hi"). Oh! I also suggested to the guys from Brewing Network that they look up Wabash Caves for next year's conference, which I keep hearing is in MSP! After Club Night shut down, the party went on until about 2am upstairs in the hotel with, you guessed it, more beer. Something interesting there - three doppelbocks - one single infusion, one triple decoction, and one single infusion plus melanoidin malt. The triple decoction, in my opinion was best, but not by enough to make the time investment in that brewing method worth it.
And the Trappist before Club Night got underway. All that beer is why I crashed in the hotel and drove home the next morning.