In this week’s beer column, beer columnists Nick Larson and Jake Devincenzi let you in on a whale of a good time.
Nick Larson and Jake Devincenzi
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Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering senior Jake Devincenzi are Mustang News beer columnists.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Beer people are the best people. Period. Over the past five months of writing this column, we have had the opportunity to meet dozens of fantastic people willing to spend hours enjoying, talking about and nerding out over nothing but beer. Trying different beers, though extremely enjoyable, is only a small fraction of the reason we enjoy learning this craft so much. The stories you hear, the people you meet and the experiences you never even imagined possible are why getting involved in the growing beer world is so rewarding. This story is a testament to that fact.
After our early columns, one of the Central Coast’s craft beer distributors sent us an email introducing herself and inviting us to join her and her husband at a “tap takeover” in downtown San Luis Obispo to meet some people in the craft beer world and, of course, drink beer. After quickly casting aside the notion that a Thursday night immediately before one of us had to give an 8 a.m. presentation might not be the best time to enjoy 19 New Belgium craft beers on tap … we accepted. We went, drank beer and met some awesome people. As promised in the email, the Central Coast’s “cutest beer-distributing couple” conversed about beer with us to our young livers’ content, and the necessity of future such beer excursions were obvious.
Flash forward two months and 100 or so beers: our favorite beer couple invites us to what they called a “Whale Party.” Naturally, we were intrigued. A little confused, but certainly intrigued. As we would come to find out, a “whale” in craft beer is a highly sought-after beer, usually on the more expensive and rare end of the craft beer price spectrum. We were “jokingly” told that we would not be let in if we didn’t bring some impressive bottles — ”jokingly” in quotes because we did not want to risk it. After much deliberation, we finally settled on a few bottle-aged reserve beers from Deschutes, The Bruery, Dogfish Head and pre-buyout Goose Island, and made our way, wide-mouthed and bushy-tailed, to what would turn into the most impressive display of craft beer we have ever experienced.
If you have ever been to or seen pictures of our house, you might have noticed our walls are adorned with nearly 400 unique 22-ounce bottles we have consumed since moving in. We’ve heard it can be slightly overwhelming. Now imagine walking into a room and seeing that same thing … except that every bottle is full … and barrel-aged … and you are allowed to drink all of them. That is essentially what this party consisted of. We were handed a glass and told two rules: “If you brought it, you open it,” and “anything open and on the table is fair game.” It was like being handed the keys to beer heaven, and we wasted no time swimming with these angelic whales.
We got there a little late because of some trivial previous engagements (class or something), so fermented goodness was already flowing. We cracked open our 2012 Pere Jacques and poured small tastes for ourselves and a few beer nerds around us. It was enjoyable, but other bottles caught our eyes. A magnum (aka a big-ass bottle) of Stone’s 10th Anniversary IPA was just being popped, and our jaws dropped. For those of you who are unaware, Stone Brewing Co. was started in 1996, meaning their 10th anniversary was in 2006. Doing a little bit of math, that means this brew was bottled when we were adorned with braces, virginity and terrible hair — 14 years old. You don’t normally age IPAs, but hell, rules were meant to be broken. It was like drinking craft beer history, and boy, oh boy, was it some tasty history.
Throughout the next two hours, we tasted more beers than we could count (an inevitable side effect of unlimited beer). Some highlights consisted of a nice tasting of Deschutes’ Barrel-Aged Black Butte porter (XXIII, XXIV and XXV Anniversary), a hearty fix of old-style barrel-aged rareness in The Bruery’s 2012 Fruet, and a rare, 12.5 percent abv, 100+ IBU “Black Label” version of Drake’s Hopocalypse. The Drake’s brew was particularly interesting, as it was an extremely malt-heavy Imperial IPA in which the typical sweet body of a 12.5 percent abv Imperial somehow accentuated the strong bittering hops that stuck around long after each delicious sip, as well as the aromatic tropical hops that pleased our nasal passages upon tasting.
We were also given the opportunity to taste a whale we had been chasing for a while: The Bruery’s Black Tuesday. This stout, clocking in at more than 18 percent abv, had a pleasingly heavy malt body, coupled with cocoa, bourbon, coffee and caramel notes. It was so intensely enjoyable that, in comparison, we could barely taste one of our favorite Proprietor’s Reserve bottles that we sampled soon after. That bottle will remain unnamed, but know it normally pleasingly overpowers any palate with its 4-year aged bourbon body. The only stout that put up a fight was from a new brewery to our young palates: Nebraska Brewing Company. The best thing out of Nebraska since … ever, the brandy barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned Sexy Betty Imperial Stout blew us away. This 10 percent abv stout pleased every taste bud with a pleasant initial chocolatey sweetness and lasting dry bitterness upon swallowing, all the while hinting at a sweet, fruity hop profile heightened by the brandy barrels. If you ever see it in this area, please let us know!
We could write all day about the experiences and beers we shared at what can only be described as a full-blown beer orgy, but we are only allowed so much space. However, this event inspired us to hold a Whale Party of our own. Whether you are just starting to like craft beer or you know more about beer than we do (we know plenty of you do), we would love nothing more than to meet and talk with fellow beer enthusiasts and aspiring beer nerds.
So, if anything in this column got your juices flowing, you want to try a bunch of good beer, win a prize with some trivia and hang out for a couple hours talking about beer, we’re inviting you to the first-ever Nick and Jake’s College-Budget Whale Party!
Date: Friday, March 7th
Time: 6 – 9 p.m.
Location: 860 Del Rio Ave., San Luis Obispo.
1. One bottle per person entry fee. $10 minimum bottle price.
2. Bring something new! The more obscure or rare, the better. We’ve tried a heck of a lot of beers, so shoot for something unique.
3. We will have a fun, quick trivia game covering multiple topics, including beer. The winners get a cool prize.
4. All-you-can-drink, but be respectful. The purpose of this party is to taste and talk about a variety of different beers, not to get drunk.
1. If you come, you have to be 21. No exceptions. DD’s are fantastic, but we won’t let anyone in that is not 21. Sorry.
2. Be safe. The location is a few miles from campus, so make arrangements to take the bus or buy a friend a beer to drive you.
If you have any questions about the Whale Party or what to bring, follow us on Twitter and shoot us a message.
Correction: a previous version of this article said, “The Drake’s brew was particularly interesting, as it was a barrel-aged Imperial IPA in which the typical sweet body of a barrel-aged Imperial somehow accentuated the strong bittering hops that stuck around long after each delicious sip, as well as the aromatic tropical hops that pleased our nasal passages upon tasting.” The article should have read, “The Drake’s brew was particularly interesting, as it was an extremely malt-heavy Imperial IPA in which the typical sweet body of a 12.5 percent abv Imperial somehow accentuated the strong bittering hops that stuck around long after each delicious sip, as well as the aromatic tropical hops that pleased our nasal passages upon tasting.”