Family matters required our presence in Southern California over the weekend of January 26th and 27th so we decided to make the most of it and started our trip off with a much anticipated stop at Sequoia Brewing. Terri and I have been making stops at this outstanding brewery in Fresno for over four years now, virtually every time we drive down to Southern California to attend bicycle races or visit friends and relatives.
Sequoia's fine brewmaster Kevin Cox has been working at the Olive Street facility since the 1980's when it was known as Butterfield Brewing. Kevin is a bit of a legend to us having brewed two of my favorite all time beers. Both, of course, are seasonal beers.... Log splitter, which is a big smooth Imperial Red that runs over 10abv and a double IPA called Buzz Saw that is also so big, hoppy and drinkable that you'll need to get a motel room in Fresno's tower district for the night if you have as many as your taste buds will demand. Although you may have trouble finding it if you indulge in either of these immaculate hop monsters. Unfortunately neither beer was available which I suspect is at least partually due to the hop shortage and Sequoia's huge commitment to their Moto-Brew bottling line requirements.
The standard beer menu is naturally stellar as well topped by an exceptional Pale Ale that our server told us began life as "Hop Fest", which I had previosly thought was merely a seasonal fresh hop offering. Learning that they had adopted the Hop Fest as one of their house beers was good news indeed. Only 5.5 in abv with an outstanding floral aroma this beer is a perfect session beer to be enjoyed year round.
Terri went straight for the General Sherman IPA while I ordered the Pale and an IPA so I could do a proper comparison. Our server explained to me that the General Sherman IPA was created when Kevin tweaked the old Mineral King IPA to better suit the bottling line.
My brewing and/or bottling expertese, which is to say my total lack of knowledge leaves me wondering about that significance... but it is really of little matter to me because both are outstanding West Coast style IPA's.
We had only an hour to spend in Fresno and had to soon be on our way after a sandwich and a couple more IPA's. We also tried sample of the seasonal Imperial Stout (which if we were fortunate enough to be staying one of those Fresno motel rooms I would have had a pint of) and filled our growler with the Hop Fest. I also couldn't resist purchasing a one gallon growler of the IPA since I knew the demand for good beer would be high in the desert where we were headed.