Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Taking a day off work to go trolling for hoppy beers up the gut of Highway 101 is always a good thing but definitely not for the weak livered.
Farmer Bob, Rick, Sheila and myself decided that it would be a good idea to kick Friday work to the Curb and meet that Highway 101 challenge head on. We started in Healdsburg at Bear Republic Brewing Company (home of Racer 5) and found the beer that was in the process of winning a Gold Medal at the GABF. It's name is Ryevalry and it's officially an American-Belgo style double IPA. It drinks lighter than 8.2% abv and seems every bit full of the listed 70 IBU's. We grabbed a growler of it. They also had a single Hop beer called Rebellion that featured all glacier hops...very tasty.
We knew we had a long day ahead of us so we finished off our couple of pints and headed for lunch in Santa Rosa.
Our first stop in Santa Rosa was at the upscale, well upscale for me anyway, looking place called FLAVOR. We stopped in because we heard they served Moonlight Brewing Beers. They did, and we did and then we moved on. If you are looking for Moonlight beers that is definitely the destination for you. Looks like a great place for lunch but we had other aspirations....destinations and expectations .
We were quite hungry so we headed over to this one place in Santa Rosa that has this great pizza...and my favorite one there is even sorta named like me...it's a Mikey and with added jalapeƱo's it's quite a thin crust delight. Although I am there primarily for the pizza I can never quite pass up a few pints of their pretty decent beers. If I remember right the place is called Russian River Brewing or something like that. Oh ya...we filled 11 growlers there of something called 'Blind Pig IPA' and Pliny the something or other. Anyway...hope that stuff is good....we sure seemed to need a lot of that medicine.
After a fairly lengthy lunch stay in Santa Rosa we finally got back on the road and headed South straight down the gut of 101 until we found the Petaluma offramp where Lagunitas brewing can be found.
One of the most interesting brewing companies in America, Lagunitas also boasts a really cool beer garden and an even cooler sorta private upstairs employee lounge/living room/bar kinda place that we were lucky enough to stumble into and not be thrown out of.
The bar was manned by none other than "Mr Nice Guy" himself Don Chartier a longtime Lagunitas employee who we quickly learned lives up to his nickname and then some. Don welcomed us and offered us spots at the nearly empty bar and asked us what we wanted to drink. We settled on some Hop Stoopid and Maximus and soon noticed that there wasn't even a cash register in the place. Don and his boss (I so wish I could remember the guy's name who was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and referred to himself as one of the 'suits') regaled us with stories of undercover Government types and rumors of lame never to be forgotten pot busts. Mr Nice Guy even sent us home with a 6-pack of assorted goodies. I've added Lagunitas to my Xmas list.
By now we were really happy to have our sorta designated driver, a noted beer phiosopher who shall remain nameless and blameless. That driver took us immediately to Novato where we were quick to grab stools at the Moylans Brewing Bar where we naturally ordered copious amounts of Hopsickle...because of course we needed more really big beers at that point in our evening and Hopsickle is one of the biggest. Two more growlers filled, a plate of their excellent spicy chicken appetizer and we were off down the road again with visions of hop cones dancing in our heads..... was that U2 I heard in my dream? At least one of us can remember the chicken and Hopsickle.....right Bob?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hanger 24 Craft Brewery

On a trip down to my old stomping grounds over the Labor Day weekend I had the good fortune to hear about (Thanks CP)and visit a little gem of a brewery tucked away at the Redlands Municipal Airport.... not once but twice.
A mere 45 minute drive down the hill from the heart of the Cultural Wasteland this 2+year old brewery already boosts which could quite possibly be the entire Inland Empire's finest collection of craft brews.
It may be only a small, little, tiny coincidence that our visit coincided with the presence of one of their latest 2010 creations. The nearly 9% double IPA produced for this years American Craft Brew Week.
I suggest a visit to their website to see their full line of offerings for I can only tell you here about the Orange Wheat, The Pale Ale, IPA, Double IPA, Chocolate Porter. Oh wait... apparently I did try a few of their standards besides the Double IPA after all.
The Orange Wheat was as refreshing as anyone could dare expect with a big orange nostril bite and a clean unfiltered thirst quenching quality. The Pale Ale boasted a palate full of Amarillo hops and out did the IPA which was a bit too balanced for our weird tastes. Ours being myself and my old buddy Ralph who oddly was later in the weekend destined to embark on an unexpected sojourn into the murky realm of mixed gender martial arts body mass superiority demonstrations. Ya....you're right....don't ask.
But that's another story for some other blog because here we're all about the hops.....or in the case of the Porter.... chocolate.... and lots of it. A great beer for chicks if they'd get over the color of it....beautiful medium mouth feel with coffee and a slight vanilla presence.
So ya... a bunch of great beers.....uh..oh ya....and that West Coast style hop brute Double IPA that makes any trip to that airport well worth the occasional bumpy roads. All my favorite hops are in this baby...Columbus, Amarillo, Simco and Citra which just unleashes serious citrus and tropical fruit aromas. There is a lot going on in this beer.... apparently including some local honey.
The Hanger 24 growlers are unfortunately the expensive dumb kind that are difficult to haul and store but we bit the bullet and ended up walking out of there with four of them.
That was Saturday and on Monday we revisited with more of the Hop Hunter clan and refilled the empties with more excellent goodness for the long road home to Nor-Cal. A full growler rests quietly in my fridge at this very moment......
Now there is good reason to go to Redlands aside from the famous bicycle race.