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Oakes Weekly - March 20, 2003

Radekfest ’03 Report
Oakes Weekly March 20, 2003      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

<P>This past weekend saw another gathering of Ratebeerians, for the second Radekfest. The first was held last fall when I went to Radek’s house in the middle of nowhere (as 905 Land is generally known) and we sampled a whole whack of beers. This time, Radek and his wife Princess had moved back within Toronto city limits and decided to host a beerological housewarming of sorts. Instead of candleholders and tacky trinkets, we all brought beer.

<P>Of course, Toronto city limits are pretty extensive, encompassing some 2.5 million people, so despite my location at the centre of the city, it still took me well over an hour to get to Radek’s new pad, which is located in the middle of a different nowhere. I think there was a field of cows next door to him. First, I had to take a bus. That’s not usually my strong suit, and being crammed on that rickety bucket next to the screaming kids and lady with the big bag of Harvey’s greaseburgers, it didn’t take long to become completely nauseous. When I finally was able to leave and get some fresh air, I was faced with another reality – Radek told me what street he lived on, but not the number. Twenty minutes later I saw joey_capps driving up the road and followed him to the right place.

<P>Between the nausea and the shot tastebuds from the searing pho I had for lunch, I wasn’t really sure how it was all going to play out. But it was fine. I had about twenty different beers with me, and figured that would be the end of it, but the fridge was pretty full when I arrived, and there were a number of fine products contributed by the group. DougShoemaker contributed Farsons Lacto Milk Stout, a beer I’d been seeking for quite some time, finally acquired via trade with omhper, who vacationed in Malta with his girlfriend a few months ago. Joey_capps provided some hard-to-find local brews, including the new classic Wee Willy from macrobrewer Lakeport. He also chipped in the 23% World Wide Stout, allowing me to leave mine in the cellar a while.

<P>We started the evening off with some Slovak lagers I had kicking around. Unfortunately, these disproved my theory about Slovak lagers being as good as Czech. We built up to quality rather gradually, but finally got into some decent stuff later on in the session. Thankfully, the bottle sizes were bigger so everyone could get a proper taste as the complexity increased.

<P>The Farsons was a disappointment, not because I had been searching for it for so long, but because Jackson did give it ***, so I expected a little more. The Milk Stout I had a few years ago from John Harvard’s in Cambridge, MA was much better.

<P>We had a small vertical tasting of Fuller’s Vintage Ale (thanks, Loren!). We had the famous 1999, along with 2000 and 2001. The 1999 has long been entrenched in the Ratebeer Top 50, but seems like it’s a little old now. Of course, it wasn’t too old when many of the ratings were placed. The 2000 is peaking in my opinion, and unfortunately the 2001 seemed to be oxidizing at a much more rapid pace than the two older bottles. It’s unfortunate, because it otherwise might have been right on the money.

<P>Another beer from the Top 100, Allagash Tripel Reserve, debuted for the appreciative crowd. I found it an enjoyable tripel, well worth another look (tastebuds were getting a bit shot at this point). The World Wide Stout was solid, but I concur with the majority here that the 18% version was a better beer.

<P>We’d been in a slump here in Ontario for new beers to try. So it was nice to get a bunch of people together and relax and drink some beer. We kind of scraped the assortment together, yes, but it had to be done. And now it’s time to begin the planning for a busy spring and summer season.



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