Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Point of Brew: Raise a glass for charity at Beerfest

Hibbard Williams, left, Trent Yackzan, Karen Eilers, Jay Prahl and Michael Lewis are ready to serve guestsat the Citizens Who Care BeerFest on June 1. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

The annual Davis Beerfest takes place this year from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at the Sudwerk parking lot, 2001 Second St.

The event is again shaping up to be a terrific happening and a major fun time. We have 40 confirmed breweries attending so there will be no shortage of beers. The price of admission also includes live music all afternoon from three excellent bands, great food and a commemorative glass and a tasting diary so you can record your opinion of those beers that appeal to you. You can’t beat that for an afternoon’s entertainment!

To buy tickets online, at a very advantageous price, Google “Davis Beer Festival 2013” or go to www.DavisBeerFest.org. Tickets are also available at Sudwerk and by calling 530-758-3704. You’ll be glad you did!

Online you also will find plenty of details for ample parking and a host of other details. Designated drivers can enjoy all the benefits of the Beerfest (except the beer!) for a nominal fee.

You will notice on the Beerfest website that the organizer, sponsor and beneficiary of the event is Citizens Who Care. Every dollar of income from the event goes to support the charitable mission of CWC, which, through a variety of programs, is to give support to caregivers and family members of (mostly) elderly folk. While you are buying tickets at the website I hope you also will come to understand the value of this Yolo County-based charitable institution.

Many of our Northern Californian breweries will participate, as well as some not available in this region and a few not available outside their home state. Here, alphabetically, is the complete list to the present time: 21st Amendment Brewery, Ale Industries, American River Brewing Co., Anchor Steam Brewing, Anderson Valley Brewing, Anheuser-Busch, Bear Republic Brewery, Berryessa Brewing, Black Diamond Brewing, Black Dragon Brewery, Boston Beer Co./Samuel Adams, Deschutes Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Drakes Brewing, Dust Bowl Brewing, Firestone Walker Brewing, Fox Barrel Cider, Gordon Biersch, Hanger 24 Craft Brewery, Heretic Brewing, Hoppy Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing, Lost Coast Brewery, Mad River Brewing, Mendocino Brewing, MillerCoors, Moylan’s Brewery, Napa Smith Brewery, New Glarus Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing, Rubicon Brewing, Ruhstaller Brewery, Russian River Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Stone Brewing, Sudwerk Brewing, Third Street Aleworks, Triple VooDoo Brewing and Trumer Brauerei.

There is surely something for everyone here. Every aspect of the brewing industry is represented, from the largest breweries to the smallest, production breweries and brewpubs, domestic and imported brands from the major players and specialty products from the most adventurous craft brewers on the planet. What an opportunity to explore the world of beer flavor!

There will be plenty of beer-centric food to go with the beers; there will be raffles and prizes and face painting and a silent auction and tours of the Sudwerk brewery. It will be a blast and I look forward to seeing you there.

Events such as these provide a wonderful opportunity to sample a wide range of beers. It really is quite extraordinary how different from one another beers can be. Give two brewers the same raw materials and they will make distinguishably different beers depending on their own preference, their own methods and what they think the market demands.

The range of colors and flavors in beers is much broader than with wines, and a beer festival, taken seriously, can help to define any taster’s comfort zone for flavor impact. This makes future purchases of a bit less risky.

The flavor impact of beer arises from three sources: the kind and amount of malts and hops used, and the kind of yeast and fermentation practice undertaken. It would be easy to find 20 different malts, 20 different hops and 20 different yeasts with which to make a beer, so the options brewers have is quite bewildering and, in crafting a beer, they must make careful choices.

Having decided on the materials and practices in this way brewers then strive mightily to make the beer the same time after time; this is never easy and sometimes not possible, but it is always the objective, so that the beer you like today will be the same beer you like tomorrow and next month.

There are no beer vintages. Indeed, beer is at its best immediately after packaging; as time goes by, especially if the beer is stored warm, the flavor changes. Many consumers like the aged flavor of beer and so prize certain imported beers that long ago lost their fresh flavor. At the festival you will be able to taste well-made European-style lager beers produced locally and understand the difference between them and imports from Mexico and Holland, for example.

Curiously, alcohol itself, at the concentration found in most ordinary beers, has very little flavor. So when someone says they don’t like the taste of alcohol in beer they are reacting to some component of the beverage other than the alcohol itself. You can try this for yourself. Take a volume of vodka (which is about 40 percent alcohol by volume) and dilute it with 10 additional volumes of water. Not much flavor left, is there? It is the flavor compounds from malt and hops and the yeast that meld together to form beer flavor (whether you like the result, or not, is entirely up to you).

Thus, beers might be intensely flavored big beers, made with black roasted malt and full of chocolate and coffee and burnt toast flavors along with penetrating bitterness derived from the hops that, for the most part, drown out the more subtle aromas and flavors arising from the yeast. These beers are not for everybody and, while it is not necessary to make such beers highly alcoholic, they often are; a small volume (usually at a high price) goes a long way.

At the opposite end of the beer spectrum are typical light American lagers. They can be every bit as alcoholic as their black and bitter compatriots but, being made from pale malt often diluted with a small percentage of rice or corn, the beers are light and crisp and the fragrance of the fermentation and hops comes through. These beers are much easier to drink. They are often referred to as session beers and are the kinds of beers, sold at a modest price, to seek out when one intends to have more than one.

Beer festivals provide ample opportunity to experiment with a wide range of beers made from an extraordinary variety of raw materials combined in a bewildering variety of ways. Each is an expression of the brewer’s desire to find and to please and to retain his customers. Every brewer is proud of his products and wants you to try them and know them.

The Davis Beerfest on June 1 is your chance to explore the world of beer, support a worthy charity and have a lot of fun while doing it!

— Reach Michael Lewis at cymro@sbcglobal.net. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

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