Day two of Seattle Beer Week began with a long day at work. Once again, gainful employment did its best to interfere with the enjoyment of beer. Mercifully this only lasted until about 5pm at which time we were free to make the short trip north of downtown to Toronado, in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. We had been here a couple times before, and each previous visit was a bit magical in its own way.
The draw tonight was “Drake’s Pint Night”, a partial tap takeover where San Leandro, CA based Drake’s Brewing showcased eight of their beers. Our decision to hit this event was based mostly on this list of beers, as it included a couple IPAs, a couple sours, and a couple barrel-aged offerings. This sounded right up our alleys. So, without any further delay, let’s talk about some of the beers we tried!
Denogginizer Imperial IPA (9.75% ABV, 90 IBU): Bam! Nothing like hitting the ground running with a big IPA, right? I immediately loved the smell of this beer. Big floral and fruity notes. I didn’t think it tasted as good as it smelled, but it was still a tasty mouthful of IPA with a slight alcohol burn. A pronounced and slightly earthy aftertaste was a constant and pleasant reminder of what I was drinking.
Bourbon Barrel Drakonic (11.4% ABV): Continuing the theme, why not go higher on the ABV front? This is their Drakonic Imperial Stout aged for a year in bourbon barrels. It has a bold stout flavor with a strong, bordering on harsh, bourbon kick. It was somewhat reminiscent of Two Beers Brewing’s Fall Line, but not quite as smooth. I suspect this one might benefit from some more aging, but what I perceived here may just be this beer’s character.
Wild Hundo (5.5% ABV, 65 IBU): Downshifting a bit, we moved on to Wild Hundo, which is their flagship pale ale aged with Brett for 4 months in stainless steel. Big, beautiful nose here. This tasted nothing like the smell, and I am having difficulty describing either with any accuracy. (Janette’s note: It tastes like hoppy wheat. Carbonated hoppy wheat. You’re welcome.) It is technically a sour, but it is not all sour in the traditional sense. This probably is at least in part due to the aging taking place in the non-reactive confines of a stainless steel container. Where one would usually detect a hint of oak from the aging barrel, there is…nothing. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t “bad” beer. It just wasn’t what I expected, and the taste was a little surprising.
Barrel-Aged Puckersmith (5.5% ABV): Take a hefeweisen and stick it in a cabernet barrel for two years with Brett and this is the result. THIS is what I think of as a sour. Beautiful golden color. Slippery yet pleasingly bubbly on the palate. Lovely buttery finish to contrast the light sour “bite” up front. This struck me as the kind of sour one would want to offer their friends who claim to not like sour beers. Call it a “gateway sour” if you will. Had a sip of someone else’s, and had to order my own glass. Delicious!
Drakonic Imperial Stout (8.75% ABV, 40 IBU): Not a bad beer…just not to my taste. Like the barrel-aged version, struck me as a little harsh.
Manhattan Project (8.7% ABV): This is Drake’s Black Robusto Porter aged 12 months in High West Manhattan Whiskey Barrels, spices, and orange zest. I did not try it, but Janette did. (Janette’s note: this beer was described as attempting to capture the Manhattan party/club scene. The first taste was a porter with more of a gin note, rather than whiskey. Once it warmed up a bit, I could taste more flavors like the spices and orange, all partying on. Very nice.)
Not only did Drake’s take over a good number of taps at Toronado, they also sent up their Sales and Distribution Manager Dow Tunis. He stopped by our table at one point to shoot the breeze with us. We chatted about the challenges of growing a brewery, the back-and-forth between Production and Sales in regards to who is leading that growth at any given point, some of the history of the Drake’s brand, and a whole lot more. It was a pleasure talking to him, and it is always nice to be reminded that the craft brewing world really is full of “real people”.
All told, it was a very enjoyable evening at Toronado. My only regret is not trying the other two beers they had to offer, but ya can’t drink ’em all.