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Last night, we went to the Toronado (as usual on a Saturday night) not only for a few beers, but to also catch up with Jocelyn and Paul. Jocelyn is leaving for Budapest on Thursday, so we wanted to wish her a safe travel and also catch up on what’s going on in her life.

When we walked in a little before 11pm, the bar was empty… which is completely unheard of on a Saturday night. According to other locals floating in and out of the bar, the whole city was dead… nobody was out in any of the bars in any of the districts. Our collective theory is that the rain kept everybody at home. I can only hope that the rainy season (which starts in late February) will ensure a few months of low-traffic weekends at the Toronado.

Anyway, the 5th Annual Barleywine Festival started today (Sunday), and in preparation, Dave (the owner) took most of the beers off to make room for the 35 Barleywines that he’ll be offering for the next 6 days. Now, don’t get me wrong… I love Barleywines… but the Barleywine Festival just throws me into overload. Luckily for Janet, the Guinness was still available (and she consumed three imperial pints of the famous Irish stout).

I, on the other hand, decided to have a Lagunitas night… even though the team from Speakeasy was there celebrating the Head Brewer’s birthday. Over the next 3 hours I would have the following:

  • 1995 Vintage Gnarlywine – one of my favorite Barleywines. Though this wasn’t supposed to be available until Sunday’s festival, the bartenders made an exception and poured me a 3oz glass of this sweet nectar. It was so good, I would have a second glass before leaving yesterday night.
  • Brown Shugga – a mistake on the 1998 Gnarlywine where the brewers added brown sugar in an attempt to raise the end alcohol content.One of my favorite beers of all time… it has the depth of the Gnarlywine with a Belgian candy-sugar aftertaste.

  • Hairy Eyeball – a very hoppy amber ale. Ian and I split a bottle of it. I think that the Hairy Eyeball is better in the bottle than on draft.
  • Eye of the Hairball – Lagunitas’ wheat-wine. Dangerously drinkable. Damn good.

I’ll probably stop by at the Barleywine Festival on Wednesday, so I’ll give another update then.

Posted in The Barfly Chronicles.

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