Ramble On

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The NorCal Brew Tour - part 1

These are the North Coast offerings.
Mary and I are just back from our west coast vacation, and as I looked through the photos on my iPhone, I saw the opportunity for more than a dozen posts – over and above the series I did last week on farmers markets.  So, yes, I am going to put them up – but the problem is where to start, and after some thinking, I believe I will start with the breweries.

It wasn’t an outright objective of the trip, but I remembered from the first time we went to Mendocino, that the drive through Anderson Valley takes you by what many consider to be the start of the American craft brew industry, between Mendocino Brewing and Anderson Valley Brewing.  I didn’t get to the Mendocino taproom, but we did go to five breweries during the trip:
  • Bear Republic
  • Anderson Valley
  • North Coast
  • Russian River
  • 21st Amendment

We did a little extra sightseeing at Anderson Valley and 21st Amendment, so I will put up individual posts about them this week.  In this inaugural post of the series, I’ll cover the other three, which are linked at the end of the post.

The Bear Republic deckel.
Our first brewery stop was Bear Republic.  I have found their beer at the local Whole Foods at home in Alexandria, and since we were stopping overnight at Healdsburg on the way to Mendocino from Sunnyvale, we decided to go there for dinner (Mary indulged me).  I had the Hop Rod Rye, since the Racer 5 is the one I can get at home, and each of us had a dinner salad.

We were there on Sunday night, and since the brewery is so accessible from the North Bay up 101, it was packed – also contributing was the timing of our Memorial Day weekend stop there.  It was pretty amazing to see how enthusiastic the crowd out there was about these craft breweries – there were groups enjoying tastings at every one of the places we went to, no matter what time of day.

North Coast.
The second brewery for today, and our third stop, was North Coast, up in Fort Bragg, California.  We’ve been to this one a few times, this being our third trip to Mendocino, but I wasn’t prepared for how the operation had grown.  They had three buildings at the intersection there on the north end of town, with a sign designating the area as a “Brew Campus.” 

After our sightseeing in the area, we went in to sample some beers – like several of the others, you can buy a four or five ounce glass for about two bucks, so four of them make a pint and they’ll discount that from $8 down to around $6.  I chose the Blue Star (an old favorite of mine, and I even have a ball cap with the logo on it somewhere), Acme IPA, and two Belgian styles, Le Merle and Pranqster.  The Belgians were good and may have inspired me to do a couple in that style myself later in the summer.

Pliny was here.
For the final one today, we stopped by Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa on the way back to San Francisco from Mendocino.  You know, they have that famous double IPA here, Pliny the Elder, which I have not been able to find in Virginia – so it was worth the detour.  I got a half pint, and got a second half pint of Blind Pig, because “I’m big on the Pig.”

Of the two, I really liked the Blind Pig – I haven’t gotten all caught up in this double thing, and a solid IPA is a great thing to enjoy here and there.  Mary and I had lunch there as well, some sandwiches, before continuing south back to the Bay Area.  As far as the town goes, we didn’t spend much time there, but it is very similar to the other 101 towns heading North from San Francisco – I haven’t researched it well, and there are probably good tourist things to do, but for us it was a matter of convenience for a stop halfway back to the Bay.

I’ll post about the other two in the next few days.  For now, here are links to the three breweries I have posted about this time:

No comments: