San Francisco Beer Week 2015

San Francisco Beer Week has come and gone, leaving our palates quenched and our livers hurting. There was so much to do throughout the week that it somehow lasted a whole ten days as opposed to the normal seven. Not to say that this was a bad thing. Next year, I hope that the week will last 14 days, because, why not?

IMG_6290I was able to hit a few events including the initial celebration, the Opening Gala, where I was apparently one of 2500 other happy people in a desperate race to sample as many of the 300 beers by 82 breweries on site as they could. Well, maybe not all of them, but I was certainly on the prowl for a select number of breweries and brews. While a good number were queued for the Russian River or The Rare Barrel booth, I chose to wander around, enjoying a variety of so many different breweries. IMG_6301Standouts in the crowd include Baeltane, Drake’s, Thirsty Bear, Knee Deep, and Highwater Brewing. So much great beer everywhere though!

Beer was had, followed by more, and then a little more. Then there was lots of water and reminiscing with more water. It was a night of festivity and free flowing beer.

My first thought the next day was, of course, where are we going next? The Rare Barrel! Capitalizing on the Rare Barrel and Cellarmaker collaborations, I was able to fill up my growler with Tangarang and enjoy the other offerings – Breakfast Time and What Hop Pun?IMG_6318 This house of sour is amazing. There is no other way to say it. Sign me up… again.

I also had to get Weisse Guise, you know, for posterity. It was delicious.

Flash forward to the next set of events that I was able to get to: a tour of the North Bay.

We started the day at the venerable Bear Republic to try out what I had heard was a very tasty IIIPA among other new releases. IMG_6472After some great beer and excellent food, we headed back south to find Woodfour Brewing Company in Sebastopol where our next event, the collaboration between Beercraft Bottle Shop and Woodfour would be held. This stout has been aging in rum barrels since 2013 and contained coconut, cacao nibs, and vanilla beans. Naturally, I could not resist.

After the festivities, we capped the night off, and the “Week,” with a short 90 minute line to get into Russian River and obtain some Pliny the Younger! IMG_6498Yes, we closed the place down and yes, the drive back to the central valley was grueling. Worth it? Of course.

The car loaded with growlers a plenty and a respectable RR haul was the perfect way to end the week. Not to mention trying this year’s PtY.

Until next year, San Francisco, my liver awaits!

Kern River Brewing Company Citra Release 2015

Citra Double IPA by Kern River Brewing Company. Roadtrip, GO!

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Taking advantage of the second chance internet purchasing window, I was able to reserve the allotted six bottles. With the hardest part of this whole process behind me, I only had to get in the car and drive down to the brewery nestled beyond the twisted and treacherous Highway 178 in Kernville. Easier said than done, I’m afraid, but it was well worth it. Soon after receiving a fresh pint of Citra DIPA did I feel completely refreshed and ready to tackle more of the amazing seasonal and variety beers. I sampled a handful of delicious brews including the Barleywine and Class X bourbon barrel stout which were both very amazing. To top that off, the double cheeseburger special was pretty damn good. There was nothing left to do but grab my bottles/swag and enjoy the sun on what grew to be a relaxing, bright day of lounging on KRBC’s patio.

With the upcoming expansion of this brewery, a new building on their existing site, I can’t wait to see what they do next! IMG_6246

From North to South – Bottle Releases and Beer Adventures

Yeah, it was one of those weekends. Four epic breweries, several impressive bottle shops, and a silly amount of driving has left me smiling and exhausted.

Beachwood Brewing, The Bruery, Lost Abbey/ Port Brewing, and Firestone Walker/ Barrelworks were all targets for one reason or another, and might I say, it was a pretty successful adventure.

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With a pit stop at Beachwood in Long Beach, I was finally able to grab a sample flight including the aptly coined Citraholic. The mid century modern styling was also a huge draw. What can I say, it’s pretty cool.

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Stopping off at The Bruery for some Black Tuesday pickups, I was pleasantly surprised to find three amazing variations of So Happens It’s Tuesday. With options like Cacao and Raisins, Cherry and Vanilla, or Coconut, it’s clear to imagine how great these were and why I had to get all three. Coconut was the surprise favorite of the three.

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The Lost Abbey was the next destination and it did not disappoint at all. Veritas 014 pickups and included sampling of the brew went along smoothly and without fuss concurrently with normal tasting room operations (impressive, no?).

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And with that, we made our way back north, skirting LA toward Santa Barbara and Buellton. If I am able, I always enjoy stopping off at Barrelworks. Despite some rushing to meet the 7PM closing time, we made it and had a great time. Sadly, SLOambic and El Gourdo were sold out (the day of their release, I was told), but they sounded amazing by all accounts.

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With the various bottle shops in the area treating me to a remarkable selection, the total trip delivered a most impressive beer haul.

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Cheers to a well supplied week!

The Rare Barrel Anniversary Party

IMG_5381To describe the incredible time I had at The Rare Barrel would be a bit difficult, to say the least, but, I’ll try. Immediately upon arriving, the impression of organization and readiness was impossible to ignore. In fact, the entire evening continually displayed the well oiled machine that is this brewery.

Between the 6 different bars serving, there were 18 different Rare Barrel brews and 6 guests appearances. Bottles were also available for in-house consumption while Forces Unseen was available for purchase. Right?! Of course I tried them all.

Oh so good.

Oh so good.

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Forces Unseen Batch 1 and Batch 2 for comparison!

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There was some awesome mac and cheese of course.

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Happy Anniversary to one hell of a brewery!

Beer Travel – It’s what we do.

“Hey, let’s go to a brewery,” a proposition that is simply music to my ears. Road trips have quickly become one of my favorite hobbies that involve jumping around the pacific northwest seeing the sights and hunting down breweries and areas of odd bottle distribution. Hell, given the unbelievably good MPG I entertain, it’s no wonder that I don’t do this more!

Consider, for a moment, seeing all of those places that have haunted your beer cellar for so long: Alesmith, The Bruery, Russian River, Fifth Fifty, Stone, Sierra Nevada, etc. The sense of wonder and excitement upon arriving at a brewery like this, or frankly any new place, is only surpassed by seeing the man behind the curtain, so to speak; being able to grab a flight while taking in your surroundings be it brewing equipment or just a throng of fellow beer geeks like yourself. Valiant Brewing sample flight!

This last weekend I was able to partake at Valiant Brewing Company, The Bruery, Beachwood Brewing Company, and Noble Ale Works on a trip down to Anaheim for a wedding. The wedding was great and the beer was great. Next weekend will find me in Mendocino County for Anderson Valley’s Boonville Beer Festival.

Where will you be? Get on with your beerscapades and beer travel today!IMG_2415 IMG_2385

Game of Thrones – The Food and The Drink

Game of Thrones is pretty incredible.

Well that was simple. I could go on for thousands of words more expounding the awesome that is GoT but I prefer to be more precise and you would probably prefer to read the series for that length anyways. In the spirit of that, this article is more inclined to preparing for, and enjoying further, that which is Westeros and its surrounding lands.

Food and drinks it is then.

To start with, Brewery Ommegang’s Take the Black Stout and Fire and Blood Red Ale to help the cooking process. Beef and bacon pie? Let’s do that.

Bacon lattice anyone?

Bacon lattice anyone?

A credit to “A Feast of Ice and Fire” for the recipe. Delicious. We made the dough from scratch which was fun although we had to improvise the rolling pin and a few spice combinations. The innards were all beef bits, veggies, and broth topped with a bacon lattice. Yeah, that happened. Ultimately, we had a great time in the kitchen followed by tantalizing episodes of Game of Thrones.

Sunday complete.

Firestone Walker Beerscapades

It's. Just. So. Pretty.

It’s. Just. So. Pretty.

A buddy and I recently spent a couple weekends heading to Firestone Walker breweries in Paso Robles and Buelton taking footage of the trip and our shenanigans along the way. It was for a contest that FWBC was holding in preparation for the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (#FWIBF). The idea behind the contest was to create a video entry that shows the extent of your inner beer geek regarding Firestone Walker with tickets to that very event on the line.

Editting the final product.

Editing the final product.

We had a lot of fun road tripping around California for this project and, of course, visiting the brewery too! Nothing beats actually visiting the brewery and enjoying some fresh beer with some friends.

So – check it out!