About this Blog

Inspired by the documentary "Beer Wars" I have taken on the daunting task of profiling a different beer every day in the month of November. The idea is to shine a light on some of the fabulous beers that don't have huge advertising budgets and don't command shelf space in the local super markets. These are the beers that you will find in the local taverns served by people who know and love beer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

BROTHER THELONIOUS at North Coast Brewing

Our final brewery stop on our trip brings us to the home of such greats as Brother Thelonious and Old Rasputin.  North Coast Brewing sits along the main street in Fort Bragg just north of town.  The tasting room and restaurant are situated across the street from the brewery itself.  We were lucky enough to chat with one of the brewmeisters.  She had just finished her shift and stopped in for a pint and some camaraderie amongst the locals.

It is fitting that this turned out to the last brewery on our trip as it boast the most "over the top" beers that I have had a chance to taste.  The brewmeister told us that she had recently left a brewing job on the east coast to try her hand out in California.  I have to say she is doing a fine job.

The taproom was quaint and warm if not a little crowded, but this was Holiday weekend and folks were getting an early start on the festivities.  We held off of the appetizers since dinner was waiting for us at home but the garlic fries looked and smelled delicious.  Visit when you have enough time to enjoy a few brews and some food.

As for the beer, I chose Brother Thelonious, a belgian style strong dark, named after jazz great Thelonious Monk. The Brewery makes a donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute for every bottle of Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale sold.  This beer is rich and robust with an ABV of 9.3%.  It was the most outstanding beer of the week but I couldn’t have more than one.  With a Bitterness of only 32 IBUs this one is just a little too malty for me.  Yet a tasty treat to finalize the brewery trip.

My lovely wife Amber opted for her old standby Blue Star Wheat Beer.  There is a reason this beer has been around and popular for some time now.  It’s delicious, crisp and satisfying.  Blue Star is unfiltered, the yeast adding a complex note to the flavor profile.  Although this was quite difficult to find back when she was in college it can now be picked up at most Northern California supermarkets.  

This post wraps up the brewery portion of the trip (which was my Christmas gift from Amber) but there is one more beer to come.  As it turns out we couldn't visit the brewery because it was actually at the brewer's house.  More to come....
North Coast Brewing CO on Urbanspoon

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

What do Frisbee golf and beer have in common?  I have no idea but you can find both of them at Anderson Valley brewing Company. Our fourth brewery stop brings us to AVBC just outside of Boonville, California.  Besides the amazing variety of craft beers the brewery is also home to a sanctioned 18 hole disc golf course.

Anderson Valley brewing company was established in 1987 by David Norfleet and Kim and Ken ,Allen.  The original 10-barrel brew house which is now used for research and development, was designed and installed by owner and original brewer.

Since 1997, the brewery has hosted the Boonville Beer Fest. Details on this year's Boonville Beer Fest can be found here.

During our visit we tasted both the Hop Ottin IPA and the Mowkeef Saison.  The Hop Ottin is true to it's name with the bitter hop style synonymous with this region and the Saison is French style which 
I prefer to drink in the summer.  Both were great solid beers and would have stood out in a normal crowd.  This journey however has not been filled with normal beers.  

Besides the amazing variety of craft beers the brewery is also home to a DPA recognized 18 hole disc golf course.   Course fees are $5.00 per player, per day, and fees include a coupon that can be redeemed immediately for $5.00 OFF of any Anderson Valley Brewing Company retail purchase of $10.00 or more. The course is open from 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  All holes are par 3 with distances ranging from about 200–350 ft. 

The patio outside is both dog and kid friendly so you don't have to leave either at home.  On a warm sunny day I can't think of a better place to sit outside and enjoy an Anderson Valley beer.  To compliment the beautiful surrounding and tasty beers the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable about the local folklore and the town's own American dialect called Boontling.  You can read more about bootling in my previous blog post about Anderson Valley. 

Cafe Racer 15 from Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg

The town of Healdsburg has been synonymous with wine for a lot longer than it has with beer.  That began to change when the Norgrove family founded Bear Republic Brewing in 1995.  

The first stop on our second day brings us to a brewpub on the corner of Healdsburg's historic downtown square where we found a lively atmosphere and outstanding food choices.  The intense flavors of Bear Republics beers are well paired with dishes like the vegetarian Roasted Garlic Plate and the Hummm Baby Crab Sandwich(Garlic and butter sautéed Dungeness crab from The Tides Wharf, fresh tomatoes on garlic-buttered, grilled sliced sourdough.Go Giants).

To complement such delicacies we had to find just the right beer.  Anticipating the overbearing flavor of the roasted garlic I chose the 100+ IBU Cafe Racer 15 Double IPA. This beer was originally  brewed to celebrate the 15th year of innovative brewing at Bear Republic.  The name also pays homage to the counterculture streetracer motorcyle.  I would not suggest riding a motorcycle the same day you drink one of these hefty brews though because it packs a punch at almost 9%.  

Even the high ABV can not hide the hoppiness so be ready for a wallop when you take your first sip. 

I suggest that you visit the brewpub and sit on the patio to enjoy the sunshine while you dine on their amazing food.  Cheers.

Bear Republic Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Russian River; Perdition, Biere De Sonoma

The second stop on our "Northern California Better Beer Tour" brought us to Russian River Brewing where we attempted to have dinner.  (Note to all: do not try to go to Russian River Brewing for dinner on a holiday Friday night and expect to be able to eat within 90 Minutes.   It will not happen).  The place was packed solid.  A friendly patron was nice enough to share his table and some dining advice.  We sat down long enough to have a beer and talked with him about the local cuisine.

While I couldn't pass up the chance to have a Pliny the Elder at the source, my ever increasingly daring wife took a shot at the Perdition.  (Note* Pliny the Younger will be pouring mid-February.)  

The Stats:
Original Gravity:1.058
Alcohol by Volume:6.1%
Color:Reddish brown

Perdition is called a Biere De Sonoma in the tradition of the great  Biere de Garde’s of Belgium and is available as a pub draft only.  Perdition is usually available year round in limited distribution only in California.  

Additional Beers on Tap included:

O.V.L. Stout, Happy Hops, Row 2, Hill 56, Blind Pig, Janet’s Brown Ale, Pliny the Elder, Erudition, Supplication, Damnation, Temptation, Consecration and Mortification.
Russian River Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Around The World at Lagunitas Brewing

Inspired by an article in Sunset Magazine my lovely wife planned a 4 day road trip to visit breweries from Petaluma to Fort Bragg.  Starting in Petaluma of course means a visit Lagunitas Brewing.  With so many wonderful beers on tap we couldn't decide where to start so we ordered them all.  The "Around the World" includes one taste of every beer on tap or in the cask that day.  As our waitress informed us today was a great day to be at the brewery.  Not only was there live music provided by the "crunchy rock" sounds of the Smokehouse Gamblers but also there happened to be 23 beers on tap.  As a bonus Brothers Comatose sat in for a few songs on the way to a gig at the Sebastopol Hopmonk Tavern.

Although we underestimated the time needed to sample all 23 brews and missed the free brewery tour we were treated to lively music and great conversations.  The outdoor beer garden style of the Lagunitas taproom makes it easy to meet new friends who casually sit beside you and share beers, peanuts and pretzels while joyfully discussing where they are from and why they are there.

Our "Around the World" tasting included; IPA with Nelson Sauvin, Doppelomyces, Fusion II, Bourbon BA stout, So Co Stout, Fillmore Fusion, 3B Bnarly,  Wet Dog, Imp. Stout, Gnarly Wine, Cappuccino Stout,   Shugga, FreshKronik, Farmhaux, Sebasto-pale, Pilsner, Pale, IPA, Maximus, Hop stoopid, Censored, Sumpin and Sucks.  Amber picked Shugga as her favorite while I was leaning towards the Maximus by the end of the 2 1/2 hours it took to finish.

I have to say that this is one of my new favorite places to enjoy beer.  The staff is friendly and efficient.  The beer is amazing,  The music was lively and entertaining.  As it turned out all three groups that joined us at the picnic bench were fun to talk with and told great stories.  If you are in Petaluma and find yourself in need of a place to grab a beer I highly recommend stopping in the Lagunitas Brewery.

ACME IPA at the Heyday Cafe in Placerville

While visiting family in Fort Bragg last week I had the chance to grab lunch at the North Coast Brewery.  Unfortunately I had a 4 hour drive ahead of me so I stuck to the food and skipped the beer.  Not an easy feat for someone who loves to try out new beers.   As luck would have it I popped into the Heyday Café on Main ST. in Placerville yesterday to find that they were pouring ACME IPA.  I took this chance to redeem myself from last week’s bout of abstinence. 
In North Coast’s words: “Acme IPA is profoundly hoppy, finished with over a pound of fresh whole hops per barrel. The result of this generous hopping is a beer that is deliciously dry, and eminently drinkable in spite of its apparent strength.”  In my words this is a smooth and refreshing beer with a bit of a bite and a mellow finish.  It paired perfectly with my Mediterranean veggie wrap and roasted red pepper soup.
The Acme Beer Brand has a long and entertaining history.  I suggest you visit the online museum for more info; ACME Beer Museum 
If you have the chance I highly recommend trying out both the Heyday Café and Acme IPA.
Style: India Pale Ale
Color: Pale Amber
ABV: 6.9%
Bitterness: 55 IBUs


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ukiah Brewing Orr Springs IPA

A recent Photography Gig allowed us to spend some time in the wonderfully diverse town of Ukiah, CA.  Ukiah is full of organic taco stands, vegan lifestyle stores, quaint coffee shops and the Ukiah Brewing Company.  The UBC is a rustic place on the main street of downtown Ukiah that appears to be a great concert venue.  Although there were several Veggie and Vegan items on the menu they also offer some real (and tasty) food.  We split a sweet potato and coconut soup and fish and chips and Cajun fries and to wash it all down I chose their Orr Springs IPA. The Orr Springs IPS is a Light-bodied, heavily-hopped India pale ale featuring Rakau hops. This is big strong IPA with an ABV of 7.0%. 
The Beer is named for the Orr Hot Springs which is something I will definitely be checking out the next time I am in town.  

As a side note my lovely wife chose the Willits Wit which I actually liked better than the IPA on a hot summer day.

The next time you are venturing through this little hippy enclave I suggest taking a break at the corner of School and N. State Street.  Grab a beer or three and take in some tremendous people watching.  

Ukiah Brewing Co on Urbanspoon  To learn more about the UBC click the link to Urbanspoon.