Depending on which way you count it, this Saturday will be either the 4th or 9th annual Barleywine festival at the Parkway Tavern.
It's year four if you count in barleywine years. It's nine if you count in Parkway years. The mismatch comes from the festival's organizers jokingly calling the first festival the "fifth" in a snarky attempt to give it some inflated credibility.
And how did it get organized? The way all good events involving spirits get organized: a bunch of people sitting around a bar talking big.
But it started small.
Parkway manager John O'Gara said the first barleywine festival offered just a handful of brews on tap. Now, it's grown to an event with more than 30 aged and new release barleywines from local and regional, and national craft breweries.
Here's what O'Gara considers the hallmarks of a good barleywine: "Caramely, but not too sweet. Well balanced. A hint of hopiness in the beginning, maybe a little bit of floral. That will dissipated over the years (as it ages). It's almost like a stout; but not as coffee as stout. They come in a lot of different varieties. I don't know if there is a specific barleywine recipe you have to follow, maybe in Britain, but not in the U.S." A classic style barleywine is deeply layered, like a wine, but made with the same ingredients as beer. As Beer Advocate describes it, barleywine is one of the most complex tasting beers.
O'Gara said he's most looking forward to sampling these brews at Parkway's Barleywine Festival:
Elysian Cyclops from Elysian Brewing: "I don't think they've ever let that out of the brewery. That's a first for us," said O'Gara.
Rudyard's Rare from Hale's Ales Brewery: "My favorite is going to be Rudyard's Rare. They're what I see as a real classic barleywine - rich, toffee, caramely, not too sweet, just big and lots of alcohol."
Schooner Exact Old Sinking Ship from Schooner Exact Brewing Co.: "We've been carrying their IPA," said O'Gara. He thinks this one will be a winner.
He'll pair up some interesting eats with the barleywine. Said O'Gara, "In addition to the usual roast pig and prime rib, this year we will sacrifice a goat too."
Should be a delicious night. Let us know if you go and which barleywines you sipped. And be sure to tell us if you try the goat.
4th (or 9th) Annual Barleywine Festival
Where: Parkway Tavern, 313 N. I St.
When: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday
Here is the list of barleywines that O'Gara sent me:
The 4th Annual Parkway Tavern Barleywine Festival
Pouring this year:
Hale's Rudyard's Rare '05
Full Sail Old Boardhead '06
Port Townsend '06
Rogue Old Crustacean '06
Flying Dog Horn Dog '06
Scuttlebutt Old No. 1 '06
Alaska Big Nugget '06
Great Divide Old Ruffian '07
Pike Old Bawdy '07
Anchor Old Foghorn '07
Left Hand Old Widdershins Oak-Aged '07
Lagunitas Gnarlywine '07
Skagit Shiver Me Liver '07
Stone Old Guardian '07
North Coast Old Stock '07
Boundary Bay Old Bounder '07
Diamond Knot Icebreaker '07
Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws '07
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot '08
Moylan's Old Blarney '08
Bridgeport Old Knucklehead '08
Victory Old Horizontal '08
Elysian Cyclops '08
Avery Hog Heaven
Deschutes Mirror Mirror
Silver City Old Scrooge
Anderson Valley Horn of the Beer
Big Sky Olde Bluehair