Double IPA festival yesterday. It was pretty nuts. Most beers were around 9% and bragged tongue-wrecking IBU levels. Everything was served in 4oz pours; enough to enjoy it but not enough to pickle you too quickly (though there were a few stumbling around early afternoon - that's another thing, it started at 11am).
Pliny the Younger was the big one (in many ways). An 11% triple IPA released once a year (the Friday of SF Beer Week) by Russian River. But this came alongside an overwhelming list of big beers. Of course, I had Younger as soon as I arrived (it's good but I need some more of it now). Ballast Point's Dorado was excellent, Bear Republic's Five Zero and 11 were very good, a couple from Drakes were superb (Drakes are a very good brewery, one I didn't know about until the trip), Moylans' Hopsickle (140 IBU!) and Triple Rock's IIMAXX were hop bombs.
The interesting thing was the difference between these beers of the same style. Some were sickly sweet and jaggedly hoppy; some were citrus and fruit; some were floral and herbal and dry; some just drop-kicked your face; some were a confusing mix of the above. Drinking just one style is a great way to pick out the subtle differences in each brew (although these beers are not especially subtle...), even if towards the end they did start to converge towards just 'hoppy'.
After the DIPA fest I went to an Alesmith event at City Beer Store (that's an awesomely cool bar). The Alesmith IPA was spectacular but I was there for Speedway Stout - the regular one and barrel aged. They are both sexy looking beers, darkest brown with one of those chocolate milkshake heads. Regular is silky smooth and rammed with roasty coffee flavour and dark chocolate; the barrel aged is an incredible oaky, vanilla, bourbon, chocolate monster with subdued coffee and great depth. Amazing beers.
After this I went to the Toronado where New Belgium's La Folie tasted like a bloody mary and then I nearly fell asleep at the table (jet lag sucks).
That was a good day drinking. I met and got to drink with so many cool people, which is the best thing about this trip. And a lot of people there are brewers from the area, proudly pouring their stuff while also happily drinking other breweries beers. It's good to have that in the beer scene.