- after missing last year’s festivities, AP and I were ready to rally, and met up with a couple dozen beer connoisseurs after camping out on the riverfront nearby.
- arriving a little before noon, we endured a half hour line before finally being handed our tasting glass and plate. the crowd seemed a little more dense than in years past, and after talking to a significant amount of socal visitors it seemed as though word had definitely gotten out about this once-local event.
- despite the crowds, lines were short, and I never had to wait more than thirty seconds to grab a refill or a rib fresh out of the smoker. speaking of smokers, many teams held nothing back this year – there were tents packed with big green eggs and webers, and even a massive fifth wheel smoker the size of a short bus.
- the beer selection was nothing to sneeze at, either – russian river was pouring sanctification all day, moonlight had their killer gruit working for tips and twist of fate on cask, and bear republic killed the competition with offerings of hop bombs on draft every half-hour, including apex, mach 10, racer X, cafe racer 15, and ryevalry, as well as their super tasty cuvee de bubba, poured by none other than bubba himself. granted, my palate was a little destroyed by the end of the day, but my favorite pour was the cuvee, so I recommend ignoring the mediocre ratings online for this one and grabbing it whenever possible.
- the best part about the revival (aside from the mindblowing scenery, good friends, and riverfront location) was definitely the crowd – everyone was upbeat, kind, and conversational, and reflected the great local hospitality. it’s gonna be a long wait until next year!
Posts Tagged ‘russian river’
in celebration of AH’s remaining single days, over a dozen intrepid explorers ventured north of the bridge on a beer adventure of epic proportions.
- our first stop was at lagunitas, where great live music accompanied a killer beer selection in their beer sanctuary.
- I was excited to try their interestingly-titled farmhouse geuze (funky and sour, very drinkable, maybe my favorite of the trip) as well as their fusion VI (hoppy but sessionable), waldo’s 420 (huge hop aroma and flavor), and cask WTF (intensely malty and hoppy).
- we headed north from petaluma to healdsburg, where bear republic greeted us with plenty of food and some great beers.
- there’s nothing quite like racer 5 from the source, especially while washing down some crispy smothered wings. the staff was friendly and accommodating, not an easy feat considering the state our posse was in as we walked through the door.
- the next day we headed from our russian river campsite to boonville, where the staff at anderson valley treated us to an experience like no other.
- after grabbing fistfuls of dirt-cheap samplers and pints of great beers like wee geech, winter solstice, gatlin damnosis, and V.S.O.B., we snagged some bombers and headed to the on-site 18-hole disc golf course, where high winds and water hazards kept our attention.
- after hours of disc, we ended our stay with a killer brewery tour, where our guide showed off AVBC’s brewhouse, massive fermenters, bottling, canning, and kegging lines, barrels, and coldroom. I couldn’t get over the brewery’s impressive pricing – for $3-3.50 you could get an 8-ounce pour of any of their beers and keep the glass for a buck more – not bad in an era of $8 10 oz. specialty pours…
- after anderson valley we cranked out the longest leg of the trip to fort bragg and north coast brewing, where standards such as la merle and pranqster complemented a perfectly prepped bleu cheese burger.
- we finished the night at van damme state park, knocking back pints of NP’s tasty homebrewed belgian IPA as well as indica, a brazilian IPA JC brought back from cervejaria colorado, on a picturesque beach.
- the next morning, we heeded russian river brew co’s happy hour call and enjoyed pours of consecration, erudition, sanctification, and segal select while knocking down some pizza (which has vastly improved since my last visit) and playing dominoes.
- we then staggered over to stumptown in guerneville, just in time to enjoy some rat bastard and death and taxes while watching elvis cover some modern day bieber hits.
- the long weekend ended with some unreal views at wright’s beach on the sonoma coast, where a night under the stars revitalized the crew and got them ready for the impending work week. congrats again heady!
- when we got there, it appeared that the entire city of LA suddenly HAD to have a taste of pliny the younger, russian river’s “white whale.” I’m not sure where they were last year at the IPA fest at naja’s, where PtY lasted all night on draft and there wasn’t a line to be found. looks like the craft brew explosion has finally made its way down (or up)…
- I got a kick out of watching the line for younger tickets outside while putting back temptation and consecration at the bar. when the night was drawing to a close I managed to grab a pour of the fabled nectar, which was much as I had remembered – a permeating hoppiness with a great malt balance and a full mouthfeel. worth the $8 pour? definitely. worth waiting in line for hours or buying off ebay from some fool who bottled a pint up in santa rosa? nope.
over the weekend I also managed to keg my cider.
- I blended the half-gallon batch from december (dry and somewhat vinous) with 2 gallons fermented in january (slightly sweet and tangy with great apple aroma). it should be perfect for the greek easter picnic in about a month.
- on the topic of cider, I also managed to score some bottles of isastegi sagardo, so expect a tasting update on that soon…
and finally, after reading pages of notes, experiments, and results, I finally decided to try my hand at wild yeast capturing.
- I made a small starter, lightly hopped it, and let it cool in three small jars on my outside balcony overnight (mid 40F temps). I covered the jars with paint straining material and took the jars in during the day.
- after a couple of days with no results, I poured the samples into my erlenmeyer flask and let it sit out during part of a cold morning (mid 50F temps) under my orange tree near some flowers. I took it back inside and when I checked on it this morning (24 hrs later), I finally spotted some yeast activity.
- I’m planning on giving it another week in its current solution, then stepping it up and washing it. with any luck, a truly local brew will be in the works soon!
naja’s place just had their second annual IPA festival, and it was pretty epic.
- I was impressed not only by the beer selection, but also by the organization of the event and the friendliness of everyone involved.
- AP and I rolled up early (4:15ish) to find a line to the door about 15 people long. I think we hit the wait apex, however, since the line dissolved in about five minutes (thank god) and never reappeared from what I could see.
- in general, the whole LA beer scene feels pretty relaxed when compared to the capacity crowd events happening in SF these days. case in point – my buddy ML stopped by a few hours into the event and was still able to snag a pour of coveted pliny the younger. in fact, I don’t think any keg kicked before I left at around 7.
- this keg longevity was facilitated by the fact that festival glasses held only a few ounces. this turned out to be a great idea, as it allowed for tastings of a wide variety of beers, instead of getting burned out on a full pour of some 10% hop bomb.
- between AP, AP, ML, and myself, we managed to try a pretty wide variety of beers: avery’s maharaja ’08, ballast point’s tongue buckler and dry-hopped sculpin cask, bootlegger’s knuckle sandwich, firestone walker’s double jack, flying dog’s double dog and raging bitch, marin’s brass knuckle, russian river’s pliny the younger, tustin’s death by hops, and strand brewing’s double dry hopped 24th st. pale. phew!
- standouts for me were the cask sculpin, which had a great aroma and finish, even after half a dozen pours; and marin’s brass knuckle, which had a unique finish that I can only compare to instant iced tea. weird, but good. bootlegger’s knuckle sandwich was pretty intense, with a strong malt back that was refreshingly different.
- yeah, younger was good too, and was well-balanced, but I expected a little less alcohol heat on the finish. maybe a fresher sample would have enough hop aroma to tackle that.
- overall, this was one of the best beer events I have been to. I don’t think I waited longer than a minute to get any of my pours, there was plenty of water available, and the bathroom line was nonexistent. we got a table with zero effort, and had pretzels and other snacks on constant refill. I felt like I had won the beer lottery.
you know beer culture is nearing its peak of trendiness when:
- there is a line snaking out of city beer store longer than one at a nightclub.
- at 6:30pm.
- on a thursday.
- I mean, sure, it was a special dogfish head night (pouring sah’tea, theobroma, and burton baton), but shit, when I saw that line I started thinking that maybe sam himself was in there on the bar spraying people down with 120-minute or something.
- I was stoked for craig and beth (they always have great beers and prices), but toronado seemed a little more my speed that night.
- after the usual half hour test of my patience over at rosamunde, I screamed out “never again!” and ran over to memphis minnie’s, where they had me fixed up in a heartbeat.
- CB, TB, and DW met up, and we conspired regarding rosamunde’s demise over moonlight’s misspent youth, a pale with great aroma, and some ’09 temptation.
this last weekend was full of destinations, both old and new.
- AP and I met up with NB and PB over at anchor and hope down in SOMA. I remember beer and nosh reviewing this place a while back.
- the food was good, and the beers were even better. the jug shop developed the beer list, which was pretty deep and had some good choices. the staff was friendly and pretty knowledgeable about their brews, especially one dude who was sent over after we picked up a bottle of allagash‘s curieux for the table.
- we hit up a wide variety of beers – I started with drake’s 1500 on the hand pump and finished with a (very generous) pour of valley brewing’s old inventory barleywine.
- the next day AP and I trekked up to santa rosa, where we made an obligatory stop at russian river brewing for overflowing pours of temptation, consecration, and supplication.
- another mandatory destination was the bottle barn, where we scored more than a few good brews at great prices. why pay $25 for a russian river bomber at the brewpub when you can get em here for $18.99? I love that place.
- after checking out a lackluster chinese new year parade in chinatown with AF, we all rolled over to rogue for a nightcap – I chose a pint of john john, which was pretty great and will be reviewed in the future once I crack open a bomber of it for a second opinion.
- I had never been to the jug shop before, despite positive reviews from CB. I had no idea how large it was!
- I also didn’t expect such an eclectic selection of brews on the shelves – there were many I had never seen before, and some that had disappeared from other spots in the city long ago (atlantic IPA anyone?). I was impressed.
- as for the tasting lineup, favorites such as consecration (batches 1-3), temptation (batch 4×3), and my personal favorite, beatification (batch 2), were poured, along with supplication (batch 4×3), damnation (batch 54)/batch 23, and salvation (batches 5 and 9). oh yeah, and some blind pig and pliny as well. it was killer.
- the tasting area was thoroughly packed, so we just ended up tasting the offerings while hanging out in the aisles, where there was plenty of room. the crowd was jovial and relaxed, and it never took more than a minute to get a pour (thanks AP!). I liked how the staff announced each new brew as it was popped and made sure everyone had their fill before moving on.
- although the selection wasn’t as thorough as, say, toronado’s russian river night, the small, fun crowd and great price ($25!) made this event a winner. plus, any more brews in the lineup probably would have buried me for the night.
last weekend, while conducting some business down in LA, I managed to squeeze in a trip to (surprise!) naja’s place for a couple of brews with OA, SA, and friends.
- while waiting at the side bar for everyone to arrive, I was poured a taster of little buddha, a sour ale from deschutes.
- to say that this beer was intense would definitely be an understatement. it had a strong vinegary aroma and an extremely dry, sour finish with a hint of fruit sweetness.
- I liked where this beer was going, but was also glad that there were no more than a couple ounces in my glass – a full pour of this would do some damage.
- after starting off with a sour as wild as little buddha, I had no other option but to grab a bottle of consecration for the table as a follow-up.
- in my opinion, consecration is a great “eye-opener” beer for those new to sour ales. it’s balance and drinkability makes it very approachable to the newcomer, and it doesn’t hurt to start someone out with one of the greatest sours california has to offer. that oaky, fruity tartness really gets me.
- everyone at the table gave it a pour, and by the end of the session I think they all left a little more curious about where the boundaries of beer really lie.
- they were pretty inexpensive (>$15 from what I remember) and looked like a great gift/party idea.
- however, I wasn’t too keen on the last few christmas ales from anchor, so I wanted to try a little taste before jumping in head first.
- I found singles for sale somewhere (was it city beer?) and picked one up for a taste test, but before I got to try it i buckled and got a magnum for UD for his birthday. it didn’t hurt that dave over at healthy spirits gave the ’09 a good review, so I had some faith going into it. and, well, shit, any russian river offering short of blind pig or pliny costs more than this magnum, so it’s all relative…
- anyhow, I’m glad I grabbed these bottles. the brew has a super piney hop aroma with a smooth spicy malt back. I can’t overemphasize the “piney-ness” here – it is very woodsy and earthy. however, spiced beers get to me a little – I can’t really drink more than one or two of em. this is a great example of a christmas “winter warmer.”
last weekend AP and I decided to venture north to bodega bay. after a few stops on the way up, and some disc tossing on the beach, we made our way along coleman valley road over to occidental, where we dropped by barley and hops tavern.
- the middle of nowhere, the center of everywhere- situated in an old house near the center of town, barley and hops tavern has great beers available and great food to boot.
- the tap list was impressive – of the 10 beers on tap, at least half were usually hard to come by.
- I started off with moonlight’s bony fingers, a black lager with a great roasty flavor and aroma.
- russian river’s classic pliny the elder and IPA followed, as did another personal favorite, brown shugga from lagunitas, all on draft. whew, glad I wasn’t driving!
- the bottle selection was great too, as AP discovered when she ordered up a tire bite kolsch from flying dog, followed by the great 1882 black label geuze from girardin. I wish more places in the city would follow this lead and get some interesting bottles in!
- to top it off, the food was great and unique, and everything was fairly priced. the owner, Noah, and bartender, Tisha were great people and passionate about good beer and food. hell, even the locals were awesome (whats up Noah!), and they even had live music. we were there for hours at the bar.
- for me, this place went from an unknown to the top of my list of favorite bars up north. I can’t wait to roll up there again soon to shoot it with the Noahs and sample more of the great brew selection.