Bootlegger’s 2nd Anniversary Party Coverage
Contributed by local craft beer enthusiast Jacob Greenwald
Bootlegger’s Brewery welcomed local craft beer fans to its Second Anniversary Party on Saturday, April 24 for a celebration including a copious variety of beer, gourmet food, and music.
Sunny and seventy-one degrees, Ninkasi, the goddess of fermentation, surely smiled upon this event with perfect beer drinking weather. With an impressive list of thirty different ales available, the variety of beer available on Bootlegger’s second anniversary was an achievement for a brewery of nearly any scale.
Head Bootlegger Aaron Barkenhagen estimated over 150 guests would attend the festivities. Tickets were available at the door, though latecomers who did not pre-purchase tickets were unable to receive the commemorative taster glass due to brisk sales. Barkenhagen estimates that this year the brewery will produce 1,000 barrels, up from an estimated 600 barrels in 2009. Bootlegger’s local and organic style of growth has strong roots in the “drink local” movement.
The event was split into early afternoon and late afternoon sessions, alleviating crowd issues. Additionally, portions of the parking lot were roped off with tents and tables, and the warehouse portion of the brewery had even more space. Four lines were organized at the bar to keep beer glasses filled quickly with minimal waiting. Despite the micro size of the tasting room area, planning ensured an exceptionally smooth event.
Ten taster tickets were standard issue, which posed a challenge with thirty beers on-tap, though extra tickets were available for sale. At only two years old, the variety and number of beers available bordered on mind boggling. At least a dozen of these beers were making their debut, and many others have only ever been available at the brewery or at a few key beer events.
The major debut of the day was the 77 Anniversary Ale, Bootlegger’s Second Anniversary brew, which coincides with the seventy-seventh anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. This 7.7% ABV Belgian-style barleywine had a healthy dose of malt along with a punch of American Chinook hops. This one should be making it into bottles, so be on the look out for it.
Other hit beers included the sometimes-available Knuckle Sandwich, a 10% ABV Double IPA with a full hop assault that has been generating some considerable buzz on the local beer scene. This one taps out fast in the tasting room, but Bootlegger’s made sure to save some for this big event. Eight sour ales were available, including lambic-style ales from three different barrels and four fruit sours. Most outstanding to the palate of those I spoke to included Bluebonic Funk, a blueberry sour, and Blackberry Mother Pucker. The whimsically named Pink Funkasaurus, a strawberry sour, challenged the funk receptors of partygoers.
Other rare barrel aged favorites coming out of hiding for the party included Brandy and Bourbon Chaos, Kentucky Wild, and Cherry Chernobyl. Of the one dozen brand new beers, my personal favorites included Dr. Tongue (a malty brew overshadowed by immense hopping), California Uber Alles IPA (brewed with Nugget, Sorachi Ace, Citra, and Amarillo hops), and the fruit sours. With thirty beers spanning a gamut of styles, the saying “there was something for everyone” comes to mind. While every one of these beers is fully flavored, the strengths varied from 3.2% ABV for the Prohibition Mild to over 16.5% for Cherry Chernobyl.
The experimental nature of Bootlegger’s Brewery was not only showcased by the event’s beer list, but also by dessert—beer floats! Beertenders scooped vanilla ice cream into cups of Black Phoenix Stout (flavored with chipotle and coffee) or Blackstrap Porter (with notes of black licorice and molasses). I can personally vouch that Black Phoenix makes the best beer float I have ever tasted. Things got even more experimental when I tried Blackberry Mother Pucker in float form. Non-alcoholic Triple Berry flavor Whales Kombucha was available on tap to all, and it quickly found its way into floats as well.
In addition to the vast selection of beers, I had the opportunity to enjoy gourmet fare from the Vizzi visionary cuisine truck, which describes its food as coastal fusion cuisine. I enjoyed some tasty balsamic barbecue braised wagyu beef sliders on Hawaiian buns flavoured with crème fraiché chimichurri sauce with cilantro and scallion. This was served with a bed of pimento-spiced yakima salt popcorn. Session two enjoyed local catering of a more traditional beer drinking food—sausages. If the beer and food weren’t enough of an assault on the senses, a DJ spun a musically pleasing variety of beats in addition to two indie bands at each session.
The crowd was composed of a harmonious mixture of local beer drinkers and hardened beer aficionados. Many of Bootlegger’s regulars were present at the event in addition to a contingent of fans from internet-based beer communities, including the OC Beer Society. Some industry players came to enjoy the day as well, including Jace Milstead, events specialist from Firestone Walker Brewing Co., and Ryan Sweeney of The Verdugo and Surly Goat bars. The great company contributed to the event, and with the great variety of beer, this anniversary will surely be remembered as a great success.
1. Rustic Rye IPA
2. Palomino Pale Ale
3. California Uber Alles IPA
4. Old World Hefeweizen
5. 77 Anniversary Ale
6. Prohibition Mild
7. Old World Dunkelweizen
8. Golden Chaos
9. Knuckle Sandwich DIPA
11. Spring Ale 2010
12. Blackstrap Porter
13. Black Phoenix Stout
14. Lambic #2
15. Bluebonic Funk
16. Lambic #5
17. Blackberry Mother Pucker
18. My Cherry Amour Sour
19. Lambic #3
20. Cherry Chernobyl
21. Pink Funkasaurus
22. 76 Anniversary Ale
23. 76 Anniversary Ale (Soured Bourbon Barrel version)
24. Kentucky Wild
25. Bourbon Chaos
26. Brandy Chaos
27. Dr. Tongue
28. Tremolo Pale Ale
29. Double Dry Hopped 77 Anniversary Ale
30. Plum Riot