Monday, June 13, 2011

Hanger 24 takes the crown at the EPIC 4

The latest S.O.B.E.R. Group Epic had a little bit of a surprise winner when Hanger 24 Double IPA of Redlands California bested no less than 37 other brews from five different Western States to take the top Gold medal spot.

It was the second consecutive appearance for the three year old brewery (their 3rd Anniversary was June 11th) in an Epic competition but the first time it scored in the medal round of an Epic.

The Silver medal went to Truckee California's 50/50 Brewing's 'Rockslide' IPA and the Bronze to none other than the host of the event Auburn Ale House and their stellar flagship IPA 'Gold Digger'.

There were four judging panels with nine beers each. The top two qualifiers out of each panel would travel to the Best of Show round. Hanger 24 actually finished second in panel three behind Bear Republic Apex IPA but was a unanimous winner with the BOS Panel. Rockslide IPA and Gold Digger IPA both won their initial panels. Both beers from the fourth panel that transferred to the BOS were from Montana. FlatHead Lake IPA from Woods Bay and Carters Brewing IIIPA from Billings. The other two beers to make the final round of eight were Odell IPA and New Belgium Ranger IPA....both from Fort Collins Colorado. Ironically Hanger 24 was the only entry from Southern California in this years Epic.....thanks Mom!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Loomis Basin Brewing Company

On Thursday March 24th 2011 Loomis Basin Brewing Company (LBB) opened it's tasting room to the Public. On Friday March 25th the misses and I, along with our good friends Bob and Michelle Silva, made our first visit.

Located at 3277 Swetzer Road in Loomis California 95650 the new brewery is the latest venture of seasoned brewer Jim Gowan who has built and worked in several other breweries in the region including most recently the popular Western Pacific Brewing in Oroville.

This time around Jim and his brewery is more of a family affair and includes his son Kenny, and vivacious wife and daughter in law Jodee and Linda whom happily poured our pints and gave us a run-down on their exciting new venture.

The beer board includes no less than seven beers but due to the constraints of time and fermentor space Jim only had two of his beers pouring. The Vindicator IPA and the Swetzer Pale Ale. After our usual three pint sampling session we concluded that the IPA was indeed growler worthy and bought one to take home. The IPA had a slight copper hue to it and was solid in everyway an IPA should be. Floral nose, more hops than malt and a very refreshing drinkability.

I only sampled the Swetzer Pale Ale but found it was crisp and clean and it also seemed to be the most popular beer in the place. I must be slipping because I failed to remember to ask Jim about the ABV and the IBU's of either beer.

Jim told me he had just brewed a batch of his Red Robin Ale that morning and next up was planning to brew a Bitter. His Beer Board also listed Golden Eagle Mandarin Wheat, BuXom Blond Pils and Old Route 40 Stout as future year round offerings.

The tasting room looks like it hold about 30 people or so and is very comfortable and clean with 6 tap handles and a bar that seats 6 or 7.

The tasting room hours are listed as Tuesday thru Saturday from 3:00pm to ?

The beer prices are the best that I know of in out region...$3.50 for a pint!

The growler refills are $12 and a new growler filled with beer is $15.00.

Regulars can also purchase a beer card which can render the price of a pint as low as $3.

Check out their web site to view photo's of construction.

What I really love is that the Hwy 80 corridor in my region now contains three great beer stops. Loomis Basin Brewing, Auburn Ale House and the New Owl Club in Roseville. Despite the economy our local beer scene is looking up and offering some great beers. All highly recommended by this hop traveler.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Bistro's 11th Annual 2 IPA Festival

Hayward California...the Bistro...Saturday February 12th 2011 was where and when I needed to be. I can think of no other place on earth....on that day...that I ever more assuredly belonged.

58 Double IPA's, a rare 70+ degree February summer like day, hanging out with my Mom and family and finishing with a spot-on Jimi Hendrix impersonator playing Stevie Ray Vaughn songs.

And oh ya...some mostly pale looking lavishly hoppy beer creations that at times carved out chunks of my palate, and left me masochistically searching for the next one on the menu.

The Beer of the day for me...well...beers of the day were ....uh....did I mention there was 58 Double IPA's listed on the program?

I can, I believe, narrow my favorites down by the amount of beer stains next to the little hand written stars next to the IBU listings.

I should start with Kern River Brewing Citra. Which coincidently was voted The Peoples Choice Award....unseating some little unhearalded triple IPA from Russian River Brewing called Pliny the Younger. The Younger has had a lock on that award for the past several years.

I see that I also have a star next to Lagunitas Fusion and Triple Rock IIMAXX....which doesn't surprise me because I am fans of both breweries.

Hopefully as you read through this you're not still searching and patiently waiting for some cleaver detailed beer descriptions because frankly I've given up trying to take those kinds of notes at this place years ago.

This yearly event just isn't about that for me anymore. I go for the inspirational collection of seasonal hop monsters and the absolute sensory in-your-face hop overload that this festival provides. If you've ever attended...well then you know what I mean.

One of the most important lessons to learn and always remember is to have a really good breakfast before even thinking of showing up. Good advice for any beer fest but doubly important on a day such as this.

OK, OK.... my grand hop memories started clouding my purpose here...which ya... my favorite selections.

Another couple of my personal podium finishers would have to be Drakes Brewing Hop Salad and Bear Republics Cafe Racer 15. According to my records I had multiple samples of these. I do remember going on and on about the Hop Salad during the event to most anyone that would listen. I think I remember at one point some dude that said he was from the midwest kept asking me if I was in the band so finally I said "Yes, ZZTop is going to play next" and he slurred out "No I thought you were Burl Ives".

After that I moved my chair away from the psycho ward and went and got some 21st Amendment Hop Crisis on my way to grab an Auburn Ale House PU240.

I had a lot of help sampling a wide variety of beers as Trog, Doctor Robert, Oralia and the rest of the crew continuely fetched full sampler glasses of whatever entries were catching their eye and sharing them with the group.

According to my list I still only managed to try 32 of the 58 entries.

I pathetic. I will however continue at next years event to find the perfect balance of ...

well balancing... and walking... as well as trying as many of these spectacular hand crafted super Ales as I possibly can. I promise.

Oh..and the official winners were

Gold - Firestone Walker - Double Jack

Silver - Moylans - Moylander XX

Bronze - Drakes - Hopocalypse

Peoples Choice - Kern River Brewing - Citra

Sunday, January 30, 2011


It might be the byproduct of having a fairly odd and unusual last name myself but I've always been drawn to and amused by other weird, different and humorous names and titles. Especially sports team mascot names.
I mean who among us are not fans of the 'Farts'.... a Norwegian womans Soccer team that was established in 1934. Or the Belgian Soccer Club 'Beerschot', or closer to home for me the UC Santa Cruz 'Fighting Banana Slugs'. Oh...and I really like that legendary Hockey team from Georgia 'The Macon Whoopee'.
I got another one for the list.....The Philippine Basketball Association (Yes, there is such a thing) San Miguel sponsored 'Beermen'.
Check it out..... I can't wait for my new San Miguel Beermen hat to arrive.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1-1-11 Notes

It occurred to me this morning that it is only fitting that I start the year off right with a quick look at some on-line beer news. I didn't have to look far to find some interesting information.
Since we're pondering a trip to the San Luis Obispo area for our annual March anniversary brewery tour I figured I'd start with a detailed look at the beer mapping site. Before I even got to looking at any maps I noticed the Beer Mapping folks declared last month that December 17th was to be celebrated as National Growler Day!
Now, as anyone that knows me can attest, I'm all for having a day that promotes filling growlers with beer, but on this one occasion I had to wholeheartedly agree with the comment that was made by the good folks at Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie in Agoura Hills CA.......that EVERY day is a great opportunity to go and fill growlers with the fresh local beer of your choice.
The very next thing that entered my hollow skull was "Why in the hell have I not already stopped at Ladyface on one of my growler gathering trips to So-Cal?" Well...I really have no worthy excuse and to be honest find it rather useless to even think that I really need one. The best part is .... the next time that we head down The I-5 for San Diego I know where our first stop will be. Checking out their website I see they have a number of interesting hop offerings as well as a few nice guest taps and a bottle list.
OK back to beer mapping and planning for that Southern Coast run that I know will likely begin and end in Paso Robles for Firestone Walker visits.
So as far as I'm concerned 2011 is growler filling get on out there and get ya some Pilgrim.