The Bistro in Hayward, California has been putting on this annual Double IPA festival since before the first official San Francisco Beer Week. Not surprisingly, it fits into the annual celebration of Bay Area beer quite nicely. The 17th iteration of the Double IPA festival also marks the 6th time that Triple IPAs have been officially included as their own separate category.
Each year, the Bistro invades Main Street to set up what has expanded to now approximately 100 different beers, all Double and Triple IPAs. As has become the norm, the initial line stretched an entire city block, all people waiting get their glass, beer tickets, and draft list. As usual, though, the Bistro’s staff and volunteers did an exemplary job of getting people through the line. And thankfully, we got a break in the recent (very) wet weather and the festival provided a warm winter day to sample beers out in the sunshine.
As with the previous night’s festivities at the Opening Gala, a long line was formed for pours of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. Other crowd-inducing beers included Alvarado Street Triple Cone, Boneyard Notorious, and Moonraker Extremis. Although the bulk of the beers do hail from the Bay Area (or at least Northern California), the Bistro has traditionally done a great job bringing in beers from elsewhere in the US. This year notable “far away” places like Beachwood BBQ (Long Beach, CA), Boneyard (Bend, OR), Fat Head’s (Cleveland, OH/Portland, OR), Kern River (Kernville, CA) and Pizza Port (San Diego, CA)…to name a few.
Along with the festival itself, the Bistro Double and Triple IPA festival is a judged contest, both by a panel of local beer judges and the public with a crowdsourced award. Medals are awarded to three beers in each category (Double IPA and Triple IPA) with a People’s Choice award given in each category as well. This year’s winners were:
1st Place: Three Weavers Knotty DIPA
2nd Place: Eagle Rock SUM
3rd Place: Faction Hop Soup
Honorable Mention: Kern River Oh-so Mainey
People’s Choice: Kaweah Slauncher DIPA
1st Place: Moonraker Extremis
2nd Place: Russian River Pliny the Younger
3rd Place: Fieldwork Tundra
Honorable Mention: Pizza Port Thruster
People’s Choice: Altamont Scarcity
My personal favorites differed in some ways from the judges and People’s Choice selections. In the Double IPA category, I was a big fan of the honorable mention beer, Kern Oh-So Mainey and the Faction and Melvin collaboration Stud Muffin. I seemed to be in agreement with the judges’ winner in the Triple IPA category as Moonraker Extremis was a favorite, as was Alvarado Street’s Triple Cone.
Despite bringing on relatively quick palate fatigue with so many intense hoppy beers to sample, this event remains a personal and crowd favorite every year, as shown by its longevity and continued popularity. And at $55 for entry, a six-ounce tasting glass, and five pours (extra pours are $2 each), this remains one of the relatively affordable festivals and beer events. And unlike other long-running festivals that I have attended over the years, this event manages to keep a high percentage of new and interesting beers on the list every year.