Gwen Neu, a teacher who lives in Eureka, attended StrangeBrew in quest of the gender she found sadly under-represented in the Journal's recent beer judging.
Anyone reading the North Coast Journal a few weeks ago might think beer is a manly sort of beverage. Not so fast. Plenty of women were sampling, savoring and sometimes even (shhh) clandestinely dumping the wild experiments at Eureka's Fourth Annual StrangeBrew Beer Fest Saturday night.
Sparkling within the eclectic crowd, Brittany Klein recovered from a Six Rivers Brewery Sour Grapes pucker face to exclaim, "It's crazy! It tastes like sour grapes but with alcohol."
As a chef, Klein enjoys pairing beer with food as much as combining wine with meals; the choice of beverage depends on the mood she wants to set. Another beer aficionado, Kaori Maciel, matches her beer with the occasion. Maciel, who happens to be the beer drinker in her marriage, drinks light beer when she's in for the long haul and a good IPA when she wants to get drunk fast.
Not only are women beer consumers, they own and make decisions at just about half of the local microbreweries. The Journal did mention that. But, well, it bears repeating.
As for the strange brews, men and women alike sampled plenty of unusual blends offered by more than a half-dozen participating breweries.
According to a trio of tasters, Redwood Curtain's martini beer tasted like a salt lick. It was good for a bunny or a horse, they sloshed. The tangerine beer produced by Six Rivers Brewery tasted like a good, old saltine cracker. The descriptions made me head for the water fountain.
Rachel Damme blended herself the "perfect Bloody Mary" from two of Mad River Brewery's weird concoctions: a bacon-flavored potion with a name as bad as that sounds, plus "Return of the Mothership," a spicy fruit cocktail blend. For her, the combination supplied a moment of ecstasy in the loud, crowded fundraiser for the Eureka Theater.
As Maciel declared, "beers are for everybody -- except kids, of course."