Saturday, June 28, 2008


Tonight, for the third time in as many weeks, I have purchased and opened a bottle of Butte Creek Brewing Company's Imperial India Pale Ale Revolution XI. Genuinely certified Organic this is one fine easy drinking Hop Colossus.
Typically, in previous years anyway, I have steered clear of organic beers but this is the best of it's kind that I have ever tasted.
According to the propaganda on the bottle Butte Creek uses New Zealand Hallertau Hops as well as Magnum, Chinook, Amarillo and Simcoe Hops in this brew that celebrates the 11th Anniversary of the Brewery.
I have seen the XI available in a few places around Nor-Cal and if you can get it I highly recommend you pick some up. It's claim to 8.6 abv seems believable, but only because you know it's an Imperial IPA and that goes with the territory.
It isn't overly sweet, just enough to hold it's own against the onslaught of all those high alpha hops it's lugging around. So ya...go get it...the Hop Hunter insists.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

NASCAR Saturday

In the true spirit of the phrase "It's not WHAT you know...but WHO you know".... Rick, Tracy, Terri and I had an interesting time taking in the sights, sounds and flavors of Infinion Raceway SaveMart 300; as well as that of Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa.
All on one long and hot Saturday in June.
Our day started out at 7am in Roseville when Terri and I wheeled the Crown Vic into Rick and Tracy's cul-de-sac to pick them up. The previous evening I dutifully loaded up my #2 ice chest with 11 empty Russian River Brewing growlers and a little bit of ice to keep them chilly.
After a quick and uneventful ride west on Highway's 80 and 37 the "WHO you know" part of the day began when we arrived at Gate Number One and spotted my dear old friend James Daniels walking towards us carrying 4 very seriously official looking all-access pass packets affixed to Infinion Raceway neck straps.
James, or JD as he is referred to as everywhere in the world besides my house, is in charge of the race day fueling station management and crews for Sunoco and absolutely hooked us up with the aforementioned passes that even included a VIP parking pass.
We spent the morning and early afternoon walking through the garage, watching practice, happy hour and the beginning of the Legends car race (There was an extensive Red flag stoppage for a nasty three car pileup in the front straight). We were also able to spend a bit of time near the Sunoco Fueling area hanging out with old friends James, Butch, John, and Rick, as well as my Son Zack who also works occasional race weekends throughout the NASCAR season.
After leaving the track we made our way to "Ernie's Tin Bar" which is on the way North to the hotel rooms in Rohnert Park.
A favorite yearly hangout of the Sunoco crew, I have personally driven past the little rundown out of the way establishment on no less than 2 dozen occasions but never gave the corner Tin building a second look. Like Rick said...we always thought the name there was 'COLD Beer' and suspected it was likely frequented by local farmers with missing digits and teeth .... swilling Budweiser from dusty long neck bottles. Once again of course we were dead wrong and learned another lesson....... Ernie it turns out is a pleasant chap who is actual the third generation of Ernie's to run the place. He knows his beers too and served us up fresh pints of Speakeasy 'Big Daddy' IPA.
It was difficult to pry ourselves away from Ernie's but the beckoning siren calls of Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder from Santa Rosa were just too strong and we hit the road in search of supreme Hop satisfaction.
Russian River was not quite as busy as I'd expected it to be and we were lucky enough to secure and area near the stage to accommodate all of us including the entire Sonoco Fuel crew of 8.
Vinnie had an interesting new light brew on the board that is based on the Aud Blond but with more hops (imagine that) called Happy Hops. The name is in honor of a beer once produced by the original Sonoma brewery know as New Albion Brewery.
After downing countless pitches of Blind Pig, a beer sampler for the curious out of town Fuel guys and at least 6 pizzas the guys retired to the hotel for a game of cards whilst Rick and I enjoyed the opening tunes of the nights musical guest "Lansville Station".
The card game was still in progress when Rick and I finally arrived and the call went out to us for a growler of Blind Pig which we quickly supplied. Among the card players was the gas can dude for the 28 car... Bobby Grant. Not only did Bobby luck out and take home all the card game money he also managed to fill Rick and I with enough genuine Southern good ole boy Charlotte NC livin, Dale Earnhardt knowin rhetoric to persuade ourselves into offering up not one...but two growlers of Pliny the Elder for him to take back to Dale Juniors hauler for eventual transport to Dale's all things beer interested lips.
Actually Bobby was quite the interesting and genuine fellow and of course having supplied him with plenty of email info for pacificbrewnews and the hophunter we still hope for some sort of indication about what the NASCAR community, and Dale Jr. in particular, think about Vinnie's wunderkind double IPA.
The next morning Rick, Tracy, Oralia, Terri and I returned to Russian River Brewing and managed to burn up a few midday hours consuming breakfast Pizza's, sour beers and several pints of all things hoppy.
All in all it was a fabulous weekend which was only dampened by the extremely poor air quality from the hundreds of wild fires burning in Northern California that weekend. I would have loved to be able to send a few growlers to those firefighters up on the line fighting those wars.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Post Ride line-up

It has been nearly a week since the conclusion of the Epic Redwood Ride but before I get into the massive reporting chore of trying to document that nearly indescribably adventure I wanted to share the line-up of brews that Terri and I shared the night after my return.
It started innocently enough with a bottle of Racer 5 (actually two) and soon escalated as these sessions sometimes have a way of doing. The Racer 5 was Terri's idea so once the second bottle was nearly evaporated I ventured towards the garage to see what else was available. I was surprised to see that beers had actually been added in the time I was gone and there were several that I'd previously never laid eyes upon. Naturally I grabbed the one that said DOUBLE IPA on it. Aptly named Tricerahops it was a exceedingly smooth and drinkable offering from Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene Oregon. I was pretty sure that the only way that sucker made it to my fridge was by way of fellow SOBER Group member Rick Sellers. To say I liked the Tricerahops was an understatement. I found it very balanced and not overly sweet for an 8.8% beer. I'd definitely like to see our local beer outlets start stocking it.
The bottle of Hop Stoopid that we consumed was purchased during the ERR and has been documented several times here prior and is well known as a HopHunter favorite. I found 22oz bottles of Hop Stoopid all along the Northern California coastline during our ride, tucked away in the back corners of every little Mom and Pop grocery that I steeped into.
We were on a roll now and my next visit to the fridge I couldn't resist the temptation of Avery's Hog Heaven Barley Wine style ale. I consider it an Imperial IPA but it has also been entered into judging as a red. Suffice to say it is just one of the hoppist and satisfying beers that I know of.
By this time in the evening there was really only one beer in my ice box that was going to measure up to this line-up so I cut straight to the Moylans Hopsickle. A perfect name for a perfect wrap up beer. I resisted the urge to grab one last Sierra Nevada Big Foot just for dessert....that would have to wait for another day. It was good to be home.