Friday, December 28, 2007

The Berkeley tour

On the Sunday prior to Xmas Terri and I made a quick trip in the Mini to visit a couple of hop places in Berkeley that we have somehow previously missed. Our first stop was Triple Rock which boasts of being the 5th oldest brewery in the US. It is housed in a typical old Berkeley style building with high ceilings and cool old ornate wood works. We tried a pint of the organic Pale Ale called 'Bug Juice' and a couple pints of the Ipax IPA. I thought the Bug Juice was a bit hoppier than a standard Pale but Terri found it mildly offensive and so I finished most of it. The Ipax was much more to both our liking and we enjoyed it's pleasant west coast IPA qualities that included a great floral aroma and a nice clean dry drinkabilitity. The server was a bit annoying and they didn't offer beer in growlers so we moved on down the road to look for Jupiter Brewing.
Since we needed the exercise and parking spots seemed to be a somewhat rare commodity in Berkeley we opted to walk the four blocks to Jupiter.
The sign on the wall looked a bit too trendy but once we entered the building we felt immediately at home in yet another high ceilinged Berkeley establishment. Jupiter Brewing also doesn't offer growlers, which is really too bad because their 'Quasar' double IPA is quite excellent. At 8.5 abv it just reeks of tomahawk and williamette hops (or so the menu told us). The building, staff and whole ambiance of the place is great. 12' ceilings, copper bar, heavy baroque Wall panels, outside beer garden, a dozen quest taps and 4 nitro stations make it a must visit in this part of the world. I even sampled an 'Old Speckled Hen' on nitro. Not bad for an otherwise boring English brew. We really didn't want to leave Jupiter but I was on a mission to find Bison Brewing which was only a couple miles away.
We found the sign on the building where it used to be but learned from the new Asian food establishment that now occupies the building that Bison moved to Chico a month ago. Hmmm...that actually sounds familiar somehow.
Since we were now on Telegraph Avenue there was only one thing to do...skip going to the Bears Lair and jump over to College avenue and visit Barclays Pub.
I learned one interesting fact at Jupiter that Triple Rock, Jupiter and The Bears Lair (which is on the grounds of the UC Berkeley campus) are all owned by the same group.
Amazingly we found a parking spot right across the street from Barclays and quickly went in for a pint of Russian River Pliny the Elder. Barclays is below street level just inside the Oakland City Limits and after a four year absence and I was glad to be back. Terri and I had a great conversation with the beer serving wench about uber hoppy beers and she rewarded our excellent conversation by only charging us for one pint.
Soon we were off again to meet Zack and Oralia for dinner at the Englander in San Leandro. The Englander seems to have about 10,000 taps of top quality beers from around the world in all the finest styles. We had a Pliny and a RR IPA with dinner while Zack and Oralia enjoyed a Franzenkaner or two.
The food and service were excellent but we were soon off to the Bev-mo in Pleasanton to do some last minute Xmas beer shopping. A hop hunter and his families work is just never done......


Rick Sellers said...

Fantastic! I love the pictures and the trip sounded like a good one.

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