Sierra Nevada – Flipside, Hoptimum, Torpedo, Beer Camp

We have family and Chico and make it up there several times a year.  On those trips, it is pretty much a given that we grab lunch, and more importantly, several brews at the brewery.

The most recent trip allowed me to have 4 different IPAs.  Although I can get all of these IPAs in SF, it is always better to have them at the source.

Flipside Red IPA

First beer I tried was the Flipside Red IPA, mostly because I had not yet had it.

Flipside comes in at 6.2%, with 60 IBUs.

The pour is a dark, rusty red.  Decent carbonation, especially since it was served in an IPA glass.


Fairly citrus forward nose, with some maltyness and limited hop.

Flavor was malty and citrusy, with hops coming in at the end.  You definitely get an amber flavor as well, borderline caramel-y.

I would have it again, but not my first choice of the 4 I had this visit.  Most likely would enjoy it after dinner sitting by the fire.  Uniqueness did make it stand out though, as it is a nice change of pace.



Hoptimum was second, and my favorite for the day.

ABS is 10.2%, with 100 IBUs.

The SN website gives a great description:  “Hoptimum is a hurricane of whole-cone hop flavor. Hopped, dry hopped and torpedoed for incredible hop flavor and complexity, Hoptimum is the pinnacle of whole-cone hoppiness and the biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced.”

The words “biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced” are welcome words for me.

Nice copper color, and a big nose of hops, grapefruit and pine.


First taste is hope forward with some nice bitterness.  Pine and grapefruit flavors come through strong, with a hint of tropical fruit.  Only downside is you can tell it is a big, boozy beer.  Not overly so, but you can “feel” it.  It was a hot day but I still greatly enjoyed this beer.


Beer Camp DIPA

The Beer Camp DIPA was third.  8.5% ABV, IBUs unknown but I would guess in the 90 range.

Fairly clear cold pour with limited head.  Fairly citrus forward nose, with some dankness.


Bitter up front, with some balanced citrus flavor.  Nothing about it stands out and blows you away, but nothing about it is “great” either.  I enjoyed it, but it just did not stand up to the Hoptimum.


Torpedo Extra IPA

Finished up lunch with a Torpedo.  Obviously have had before, but always best to have it at the source.

Torpedo comes in at 7.2% with 65 IBUs.

Torpedo pours darker than most IPAs, as you can see from the picture.  Fairly creamy head that subsided relatively quickly.


Aroma is a nice mix of citrus and pine.  Not overwhelming in any area.

Flavor can best be described as balanced.  You get the hops, you get some grapefruit and citrus, bitterness throughout, and the finish even has a touch of maltyness and caramel.  Just a great, clean beer.

One of the other huge bonuses with the Torpedo is you can get a 6er or 12er for a good price, and do not need to get a bomber.

I am really looking forward to trying this on cask, which apparently I can do over at the new Taproom in Berkeley.


Overall, a very successful trip to the brewery.  The bro-in-law enjoyed the Session IPA they had on draft, so I will have to give that a whirl next time.

PS.  The food at the brewery is pretty good too.  The beer cheese and pretzels are a must have.


Fall River Brewing Widowmaker

Where – Anselmo Vineyards in Shingletown

How – On Draft

ABV – 10.2%

IBUs – 100+


We recently made the trek up north to visit family in Redding.  During our stay, we had a pretty fantastic brunch at Anselmo Vineyards in Shingletown.  Part of the reason brunch was so great, a few Widowmakers from Fall River.

I had never heard of Fall River, let alone their IIPA.  However, I was very happy to find it.

The pour is a nice copper color with medium head and carbonation.  Aroma is not as hoppy as one would expect from a IIPA with a 10.2% ABV.  Aroma had some tropical fruit notes.


Taste was very smooth, not overwhelmingly hoppy but the hops are present throughout.  Fairly heavy and thick mouthfeel.

If you have ever been up to Redding, you know it can get quite hot.  It was pushing 100 degrees when we were at brunch, and we were sitting outside.  Nonetheless, I was happy to suck down 3 of these with brunch.

One word to describe this beer…dangerous.  Rarely do you find a IIPA that is so drinkable.  I did not expect this beer when we planned our trip to Redding, but have a great reason to get back there (other than to see the infamous @realjohncarter and his lovely wife of course)


Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Half Moon Bay Brewery is up there for my favorite breweries to visit. It is hard to beat sitting outside on the patio on a sunny day with the dog and wife.  In fact, I have been out there 3 times in the last ten days…

Most recently, I had the Tunnel Vision IPA and Princeton-by-the-Sea IPA on draft, at the brewery.

Tunnel Vision IPA

ABV – 6.6%
IBUs – 100+


I first had Tunnel Vision last year, and was very impressed by it. However, it was only a seasonal beer at that time, so it has not been around my last few visits. Now, it sounds as though they are going to keep this around on more of a full time basis, which is a good thing.

Tunnel Vision pours a dark orange/golden color with light head.

Aroma is of piney hops with some citrus. Fairly hop forward flavor, with some tropical fruits notes.

Only complaint is a slight aftertaste.

Overall, 83/100 (I was tempted to add a few bonus points just because I love drinking at the brewery so much, but held back).

Princeton-By-the-Sea IPA

ABV – 6.1%
IBUs – 65

Although this is their “regular” IPA, it is not as good as Tunnel Vision.

Clear copper color with an off-white head.

Light hoppy flavor.  This may well be why my rating is lower, as I tend to like the hoppier beers.  This one has little hop aroma and minimal hop flavor compared to the Tunnel Vision or most West Coast IPAs.  To me, it is almost more of a Pale Ale.

Very drinkable, just not the type of IPA I typically crave.  70/100.

Now, here is the kicker.  This truly is one of my favorite places to go in Northern California.  Sitting on the bay with incredible views, and good food.  The artichoke hearts, fish tacos (get them grilled with the achiote rub), and the newly improved crab roll are all bomb.

Can you complain sitting outside like this?

hmb 2

Or when before or after you eat you can be here?

hmb 3

The dog does not seem to mind heading over either…

Lagunitas IPA


Where – Pedro’s Cantina (most recently, Lagunitas IPA must be the most popular IPA on tap nationwide by now, right?)

How – On Draft

Lagunitas for me is like my Nike Free 5.0s. When I do not know what else to go with, go with the classic, easy and comfortable choice.

Lagunitas is the perfect IPA to have around the house at all times. Once we move out of the City and/or somehow figure out to get more room in the City this is likely what I will have on tap at home.  It is a smooth and not overly hoppy IPA, at least compared to most West Coast IPAs. That is evidenced by the approximately 45 IBUs, and although higher than non-IPAs, the ABV is on the low-side at 6.2%.

Color is a little lighter and golden than the bigger IPAs, with a bright, white head.

Hops mix well with light fruity flavor after some initial malty sweetness. Can be surprisingly refreshing for an IPA.

Overall, it is not going to knock your socks off but it is an excellent daily drinker. If you are having people over, you can guarantee a few people will enjoy it and even if they are not big IPA fans, they will put back a few.

Rating this one is difficult for me as the rating will not reflect its true value as an ideal “daily” beer. I had to rate it slightly lower as there is nothing “special” about it.