Tuesday 19 October 2010

The Wanderer Returns

Well, I’m sorry I’ve been missing but I can only cite the fact that my life has gone mental! In a great way I must confess but that means I have to mega-apologise for not blogging for so long – I still love you all I promise!
So, why have I been missing? Well, first things first, I’ve got a book deal! Very excited to say the least! It has been a great process with the wonderful people at Anova refining the concept and I think we’ve hit on a fresh formula, which will make it accessible for the idly curious and the uber-interested alike (fingers crossed!!). Out towards the end of next year with luck!

But, I’m sure you’re not going to let me get away with just that as an excuse! So what else have been up to?

Well, I’ve been travelling a heck of a lot, in the past six weeks I’ve been in Belgium, Bristol, Czech Republic and the People’s Republic of Cornwall! But let me take you back to September first...

A beaming Bagby!
Excitingly I was back in the States judging at the Great American Beer Festival and it was just as much of a blast as it was last year, if not more, and you can see the results here but, very quickly, I’d like to make special mention for Jeff Bagby & his crew at the Carlsbad Pizza Port for winning medal after medal and taking large brewpub of the year – he’s an absolute sweetheart, his fiancée Dande is a honey - I can’t think of nicer people to win the award.

But aside from adoring Jeff, what I can't reiterate enough is his talent as a brewer. Just one example of this is that I judged the medal round of English IPAs and I was adamant that his (which I didn't know at the time I promise, it's a blind tasting!), was head and shoulders the best beer and the only one to really make the Fuggles & Goldings shine the way English brewers do - in fact I stayed at the judging table a few additional minutes with an extra glass in my hand courtesy of our lovely table steward! That's how highly I rated it.

It was also grand to see Noah from the San Clemente branch of this modest brewpub company win small brewpub of the year too – he's a star of the future in my humble opinion, and is certainly a hit with the beer ladeez across the pond!
Super Sour Maker Tomme Arthur

Tonya from Bend, it's blurry
'cos we're giggling - again!

It was also gratifying to see medals for brewers I not only like but seriously respect as well, like Tomme Arthur from Lost Abbey, Tonya Cornett from Bend Brewing, Mitch Steele from Stone, Matt from Firestone Walker, Wayne from Cigar City, Jeremy at Schmaltz (who’s just written a book, which I haven’t had time to read yet), Greg Hall at Goose Island, Jeff at Alaskan, Nick, Barnaby & the crew at Three Floyds, Larry at Iron Hill and Brian from Great Divide (hope I didn’t miss anyone I know – got this sneaking suspicion I have though, apologies!).

The festival is awesome - although the pretzel necklaces & multi-coloured beads leave me a bit confused - it’s busy but not cramped, there are water stations everywhere, there’s a great buzz about it and I do quite like the ounce servings you get - sometimes I do crave a bit more of the beers that I really take a liking to, but it does also mean you don’t procrastinate in one place and it encourages you to try as many different ones as possible.

On a personal note I'd just like to send thanks to all at the Brewer’s Association and most especially Chris Swersey, as ever, this is the slickest judging event I’ve ever attended, you are an organisational genius, and I may make you regret that fishing invitation if I get the time next time I’m over! And thanks to all the volunteers, you are truly smiley happy people, who do all the real hard work whilst we sit on our butts & drink great beer!

Also, thanks to my fellow judges, you were all a collegiate pleasure to judge with and also to my awesome, awesome roomy Jessica Heidrich, who on the final night put up with my dumbass capability to drunkenly demagnetise my key card and opened the door in wee hours three times in a row, and made a trip to the mall and hugely entertaining process - you rule lady!
But, this is the first instalment what have you got to come? Well, it was a trip of high amusement, high cuisine and even higher altitude drinking - not to mention a Goldilocks-esque story of 'who's in my bed?!' to come (not involving me I hasten to add)

Tune in for more, later in the week.

p.s. off to try the Grand Ridge beers at the White Horse, Parsons Green this evening, unless you've been to Australia it's unlikely you'll have tried these before so this is ticker/beer geek heaven baby!


Sid Boggle said...

Well done for getting a smile out of Tomme Arthur...

The Palate Jack® said...

As long as you were gallivanting and not posting about GABF I felt secure that I wouldn't be too tardy. Dammit Gumby, you still beat ole Pokey. Dinner was great, too. Hugs, Matt.

nick said...

Well congratulations on the book deal! How awesome! I am not sure that Cornwall is really known as the peoples republic though is it? I know they have a tiny liberation army, and they do make some pretty good pasties!

Melissa Cole said...

@Sid Tomme's lovely!
@Matt hugs back!
@Nick nice that you've commented but your profile links to a casino site, if you can verify you are a real person and remove that then great but it's not something I'm comfortable with on the blog hon - cheers!

Martyn Cornell said...

I know they have a tiny liberation army

That'll be the piskies.