Craft Brew in Italy – Part 3

We recently took a 12 day trip to Italy.  Looking back, we should have done longer, but the amount we accomplished in the time we were there was staggering.  Although finding craft brew in Italy was tough, it was not impossible.

Our visit included 3 nights in Venice, 3 nights in Florence, 2 nights in Cinque Terra, and 2 nights in Rome (travel time knocked off essentially 2 days).  We also had a 7 hour layover, which allowed some time to hop into London and get a brew.

In short, Rome had the best beer scene, Florence seemed to have a growing one, Cinque Terre had one good beer bar, and Venice was…tough. I will go through each city in the order we visited.

Rome

Rome was our last stop of beercation 2016. We had somewhat tempered expectations and feared Rome would be too touristy and hectic, and so only had 2 nights in town. However, we were pleasantly surprised.

Rome is an incredible city. The tourist sights are obviously a must-do, but we had what was probably my favorite night of the trip once we got outside the sights.

The first thing we did after our five hour train ride from the coast and checking in the hotel was eat and grab a drink. Options were abound, and Rome clearly had some of the more diverse food options available. We were pleasantly surprised to find many food options we would expect to find in San Francisco. After traveling for two weeks and eating rich and heavy food constantly, we were craving something on the healthier side, and Rome had plenty of options.  We strolled through the Monti neighborhood along Via Urbana and were able to get a decent beer and healthy lunch at a place I now cannot remember the name of or find, doh!

We then proceeding to try and squeeze in all the main attractions we could. Over the next 36 hours, we visited The Roman Forum and surrounding sights, did a guided nighttime tour of the Colosseum, visited the Vatican City and toured St. Peter’s Basilica and up to the top of the duomo (unfortunately the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel were closed), saw the Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain, went inside the Pantheon, and popped our heads in countless other churches (many of which would have been incredible on their own if you were not comparing to the basilica or duomos we had already seen)

In order of preference, of the “major sights,” my favorites were as follow:

1. Night tour of the Colosseum.  It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.  We started with a guided tour around the outside of Palantine and Capitole Hills and the Forum, then around and inside the  Colosseum.  We were in a group of about 20, and there were only a few groups allowed in. The night tour was more expensive, and did not include a tour of the Forum, but you can do that separately. The night tour was relaxed and had so many less people. Moreover, you got to see the “underworld” of the Colosseum where the gladiators and animals stayed until they fought. This was only available in the night tour and very cool.

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2. St. Peter’s Basilica. We went to Vatican City on a Sunday so the museum and Sistine Chapel were closed. However, still worth heading over just for the basilica. It is insanely huge and stunning. The artwork and sculptures inside are amazing, but the sheer size of the place is the star of the show. We also went up to the top of the duomo, which was…an experience. We chose to walk (elevator was an extra few Euros but I was ok working off the beers and pasta) but in either event, you had to walk up the stairs of the dome itself. This was intense. The stairs are steep and circle around he dome. For a 6’5″ guy this was brutal. I was hunched over the whole way. Worse, it was hot and claustrophobic. People were freaking out, and the would try to walk against traffic to leave. It was a disaster, as turning around made it ten times worse for everyone. However, when (if) you made it up top, wow.

3. Pantheon. Most people think of the Pantheon and see the exterior.  I imagined it to be out on its own somewhere and you looked at the outside and moved on. I was way off. The Pantheon is in the middle of a walkable and vibrant neighborhood and piazza.  The interior is amazing, with an open ceiling.  Totally surprised by how much I liked it (and it is free!).

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4.  Other worthwhile stops:  Trevi Fountain and the Roman Forum were my other two favorite spots.  The Forum is fascinating.  We did not have a tour guide for this (since we did the night tour of the Colosseum, it did not include the guided tour of the Forum).  Trevi Fountain was beautiful and the highlight of a great walk we took between several sights. (note, the Spanish Steps were being worked on when we were there, so it was underwhelming).

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Nightlife

Somehow, even after walking and sightseeing all day, we made it out both nights in Rome.  Our second night was much more memorable.

The first night saw us cruise around the Via Urbana area.  There were a ton of people partying in the streets and full bars and restaurants.  It was fun, but nothing special.

The next night, we went out in the Trastevere.  Trastevere was about a 15 minute ride from our hotel, away from the typical tourist sights (this was the first time we had taken a cab all trip, mostly because it was raining!).  As soon as we got out of the car, we knew it was our kind of area.

Trastevere contained many small, winding streets filled with bars and restaurants.  We wanted to stop at Ma Cha Siete Venuti a Fà, a well regarded craft beer bar.  Unfortunately, it was packed and as it was pouring, drinking a beer was not a desirable option.  So, we proceeded to Bir & Fud, which was the best beer bar we visited in Italy.

Bir & Fud had pizzas and great homemade chips.  More importantly, they had at least 30 beers on tap, including several IPAs.  It was pretty slammed, but we scored a couple seats at the bar.  Bartenders were attentive and friendly, and the beers were the best beers I had on our trip.  It was a fantastic find on our last night.

After Bir y Fud, we headed to dinner at Grazia & Graziella. Despite the pouring rain, it was packed.  We sat outside under cover and stayed dry.  The servers were having a great time, singing and clearly ready to party.  We loved it.  The food was also phenomenal.  We had a killer salad with buffalo mozzarella, delicious pasta, and this crispy artichoke which was unlike any other fried artichoke I have ever had.  I can’t really describe it, you will just need to go taste it.

Overall, the Trastevere neighborhood was my favorite neighborhood of all the places we visited.  This came as a surprise, as I had heard very mixed reviews for Rome.

Conclusion

Overall, our trip to Italy was the best trip we have ever been on.  The sights were incredible, the food was amazing, the wine was great (and SO CHEAP), and the people were amazingly hospitable.  It is evident beer is becoming more popular, and I would guess by my next trip, there will be even more options.  I am looking forward to that!

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Dog Friendly Brewery Series – Tahoe Part 2

I love good beer. I also love enjoying good beer with my wife and dog. I therefore really love doing both together. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (unless done at home). Hence, the following series.

I cannot profess to know every single dog friendly brewery in the state, but I do believe I have a pretty good grip of the best ones in a few different areas, namely SF, the Bay Area and north, and the Central Coast. This series will pass along my knowledge on this ever so important topic.

Some of the prior articles in these series are here:

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco Part 2

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – North SF Bay Area

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco

This post is a continuation of a prior post, linked here: Dog Friendly Brewery Series – Tahoe and Auburn

The first blog dealt with North Lake Tahoe.  This post touches on the breweries in the South Lake Tahoe area.

Stateline Brewery

Stateline Brewery, is, as expected, right near Stateline.  Technically it is in California in Heavenly Village.  The brewery itself is basically in a huge basement.  It is a large space that can get pretty busy for dinner.  However, the best part of the brewery is probably the outside seating right on Highway 50.

The outdoor sitting was plentiful when we were there (Memorial Day Weekend at about 4 in the afternoon).  There were good happy hour deals, even on Saturday, for drink and apps.  Unfortunately, there is no lake view, but there is solid people watching.

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I had an Acclimator IPA, which was better than I remembered their beers being.  They also had a variety of beers from other breweries, which was nice to have as they only had a few of their own beers on tap when we were there.

The service when we sat outside was solid (when we went for dinner it was pretty slammed and the service was not as great).

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http://www.statelinebrewery.com/

Brewery at Lake Tahoe

The Brewery at Lake Tahoe is not as conveniently located as Stateline Brewery if you are staying in the more touristy area.  The Brewery is a little over a mile away from Stateline on Lake Tahoe Blvd on the California side.

The Brewery has a decent sized dog friendly area, albeit with no real views and not as great of people watching as you get at Stateline.

Beers are good, nothing too exciting but drinkable.

I have not eaten here yet, but plan to do so next trip up and will give an update.

http://www.brewerylaketahoe.com/

MacDuff’s Pub

Although clearly not a brewery, MacDuffs has one of the better beer selections in Tahoe and a large, comfortable dog friendly patio with a peak of a lake view.  The food is also better than average pub food, with great (and huge) burgers and fish and chips.

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It is a must hit when in Tahoe, and the owner, as evidenced by their glasses, is a dog lover (that is actually his dog on the glass).

http://macduffspub.com/

Where to Drink SF – Local Brewing

Local Brewing is located in SOMA, on Bluxome, between 4th and 5th.  I used to live a couple blocks away, but of course moved before this opened.  Local is on a developing street, joining Bluxome Street Winery which is a few blocks away (great place, dog friendly, awesome wine club, especially if you live close by and can take full advantage).

The brewery is in a brick warehousey space, and is a bit “nicer” than most breweries.  They have food and wine, and so although there is definitely a brewery feel and presence with the barrels, etc., it does still come across as a high end spot.

Local’s taps seem to be constantly updating with new beers.  As I look on the website now, I see several beers that were not there but a couple weeks ago.  When I went, I of course had a sampler.

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The beers were all very good.  Nothing overpowering or extreme, instead straightforward and well-executed beers.  I have been happy with every beer I have had.  None blew me away, but all were enjoyable, which is quite a feat.

I have not eaten here, but the food menu if somewhat limited. Mostly snacks or small plates.  The wife says the wine she has had is good, with  few different options.

I would imagine it gets pretty packed on game days or at happy hour, but I have gone on the weekends and it has been easy to grab a seat at the bar, and easy to drive to/park at if you have a DD or aren’t going full weekend mode…

Overall, a great addition to the SOMA brew scene, and certainly worth a stop by.

http://www.localbrewingco.com

 

Weekend in Seattle

Mrs. CaliforniaIPA and I recently took a long weekend in Seattle.  Seattle was an obvious choice for a weekend getaway, considering it is (a) a quick flight, and (b) full of breweries.  Weather be damned, if there are breweries, it should be a good weekend.

The trip ended up being everything we could have asked for.  A ton of great beer, great food, and not too much rain.

Pike Place and Downtown

We stayed downtown, so every day included a trip to Pike Place Market.  Pike Place seems like a tourist trap I would actually go to if I lived in Seattle.  Whereas Fisherman’s Wharf here in SF is a living nightmare, Pike Place was fun, had great food, and unbelievable prices on produce, flowers and crafty-goods.

Our personal favorite spots by Pike Place:

Pike Place Chowder: total tourist trap, but the chowder was bomb.  We got a sampler of 6 different chowders, all of which were delicious.

Le Panier: Good coffee, amazing savory pastries.

Daily Dozen Doughnuts: Super fresh, mini-doughnuts.

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Cruising the Market:  Every day we did take a lap through the market.  It was fun to check out the local vendors, fresh food, and flowers.

There were some breweries downtown, but we did not hit any of them.  I had specific breweries I wanted to visit, and none of the downtown ones were that appealing to me (although we did visit the Yardhouse downtown when we first arrived and were figuring out our bearings.  Yes, I would have much preferred to go to a local spot, but we had just landed, and I needed a beer to get the trip started!).

Ballard

We tried to visit several neighborhoods, but spent the most time in Ballard.  Ballard seems to be the hipster-esque part of Seattle, with a slew of breweries, good restaurants and bars, and shops.

Ballard is home to the famous Walrus and Carpenter (we swing by just as they opened to check it out, but didn’t eat) and several breweries.

My favorite spot was Reuben’s Brews.  Reuben’s had 24 of their own beers on tap, and although I wanted to try all 24, I limited myself to 8.  They were genuinely all very solid beers.  I was extremely impressed.

The location was a bit off the beaten path, but once you arrive it is clearly a beer-lover’s haven.  Packed, a large outdoor dog-friendly patio, and a clear focus on the liquid bread (http://www.reubensbrews.com/#on-draft).

We also had an awesome dinner at Stoneburner, with great pizza and a unique and killer brussel sprout caesar salad (https://www.stoneburnerseattle.com/home).

Bramling Cross had just opened, which was a very cool gastropub with some solid local beers on tap and good oysters (http://www.ethanstowellrestaurants.com/locations/bramling-cross/).

Ballard was where I would see myself if I lived in Seattle, if nothing else for the beer and food.

Fremont

Fremont was probably my second favorite neighborhood we visited.  We did not spend much time there, but it was scenic and had a cute “downtown” area.  Oh, and Fremont Brewing.

Fremont Brewing (http://www.fremontbrewing.com/) is in a cool location close by a marina and the Fremont Troll.  It had a huge patio, but it was raining pretty good that day so we sat inside.  Beers were all solid.  I again went with a flight, and enjoyed the beers (especially the Hop Lab).  Cool atmosphere, a bunch of kids (not sure if that is because of the neighborhood or just the particular day we were there).

After the brewery, we walked up to the Fremont Troll, then down to the main street, grabbed a drink at a wine bar and checked out a few stores.  Overall, a cute little neighborhood topped off with a brewery, so all good in my book.

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Other Favorites

One of our most memorable stops was brunch at Tolouse Petite (http://toulousepetit.com/).  We made it there in time for brunch happy hour (!!), and I went for a few solid whiskey cocktails.  The atmosphere was awesome, and the crab cake benedict was insane.

Beer in general:  I had a ton of great beers.  Elysian Space Dust, a few different Populuxe beers, a few Manny’s beers, Hale’s Ales, and Outer Planet.  That said, we need another trip back to hit the breweries I missed.

One thing that really stood out were the people.  Everyone from the bartenders, uber drivers, and residents were just plain nice.  Welcoming and full of great recommendations.

Overall, a very successful trip and look forward to heading back.

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Dog Friendly Brewery Series – San Francisco

I love good beer. I also love enjoying good beer with my wife and dog. I therefore really love doing both together. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (unless done at home). Hence, the following series.

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Sara likes herself a good IPA too…

 

I cannot profess to know every single dog friendly brewery in the state, but I do believe I have a pretty good grip of the best ones in a few different areas, namely SF, the Bay Area and north, and the Central Coast. This series will pass along my knowledge on this ever so important topic.

Naturally, the first in this series will focus on dog-friendly breweries in my backyard, San Francisco.  These are in no particular order, just how they came to mind.

(this post got longer than anticipated, which I guess is a good thing as it means there are plenty of dog friendly breweries in the City…)

EDIT – Since writing this blog, a few more dog friendly breweries have opened, including Harmonic Brewing in the Dogpatch and Black Hammer in SOMA, reviews on these to come in the immediate future.

Southern Pacific

I was pretty pumped when I first learned Southern Pacific was opening. New brewery? Score. Patio? Double score. Fish and chips and bar food. Boom.

Southern Pacific is in a cool old warehouse that has been converted into a fairly huge brewery, restaurant, bar. Located at Treat and 19th in the Mission.

We go to Southern Pacific pretty often. On a nice day, sitting on the patio with the dog is tough to beat, but it can get busy.

Pros, great food. Fish and chips are bomb, veggie burger and sage fries are solid. Mac and cheese, rotating salads, most everything has been good if not great.

It is also a pretty fun place if you are just trying to get a little hammed. Good hard alcohol options and pitchers. A few birthday parties/gatherings have been memorable, at least according to those who remember them.

Water bowls for dogs and side chicken breasts keep the pup occupied.

Cons, the beer they brew is not great. The IPA is ok, but I usually get the pale. However, it is pretty cheap. Even better, they usually have several other options (read, other breweries) on tap. Last time, they had Tricerahops. Can’t complain.

http://www.southernpacificbrewing.com

Beach/Park Chalet

Beach Chalet is another perfect good weather day/dog boozing spot. Go for a cruise on the beach, get the dog exhausted, then kick back a few.  Beach Chalet is across from the main parking lot at Ocean beach and at the base of Golden Gate park. The beach across the way is super dog friendly and you can even walk all the way to Fort Funston to really earn the beers.

The dog friendly area is out back in the lawn (which is actually Park Chalet, Beach Chalet is the fancier spot inside upstairs). It is self seating, and there are servers. Getting a seat can be a little tough at times. Servers sometimes are swamped, and getting beers for yourself tends to be easier.

The beers are pretty decent, not going to blow your mind but certainly good enough.

Food is the same. Nothing special, but consistent, decent pub grub. Crab sandwich is my favorite thing. Wife likes the veggie burger and Caesar.

There are always a ton of dogs here, chilling in the grass. Plenty places to quickly take them for a walk if they get cranky.

Biggest con, it is a trek to get out there from our end of town.

http://www.parkchalet.com

Smokestack

Smokestack is the new kid in the dog friendly pack.  Smokestack is in the Dogpatch on 3rd and 22nd.   It seemed to take forever to open, with countless delays, but now we get to enjoy it.

Smokestack is part of Magnolia, and I have only seen the Magnolia beers on tap.  They also have a pretty solid cocktail selection.  Beer is solid, rotating Magnolia options.

Smokestack on its face does not seem like a dog friendly bar.  There is no obvious patio.  However, in the brewery dock along 22nd you can have the pup.  The website says this is “sometimes” open, but everytime we have gone during the DAY, it has been open.  Last time I was there at night it may not have been open, but bringing the dog is more of a day drinking thing anyway.

We have actually never eaten here, but people tell me the BBQ is good, although pricey.  The meat is sold by weight and seems to change often.

PS. After Smokestack you can go across the street to the Dogpatch Saloon, which allows dogs inside, for a good beer and whiskey selection.  PPS.  Go grab a pizza from Longbridge first and bring that to the saloon.

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Sara in the brewery dock, awaiting a bite of Smokestack’s jerky…

http://www.magnoliasmokestack.com/

Rogue

I am including Rogue on this list because they have a taproom (or as they call it, a “meeting hall”) in North Beach that has a big dog friendly patio.  It is not technically a brewery IMO as they do not brew in SF, but this is my blog and I say it counts.

Rogue always has interesting beers on tap.  At the SF location, there is no shortage of options.  I try to try something new every time I go.

The dog friendly area is the big patio out back.  Full service, and can get pretty busy.  But, this is a good “drinking with the dog at night” spot.

Food is pretty decent, tots are always a good choice.

We do not make it over here all that often as it is a trek with the dog.  We can walk there, but then typically will want to get a cab/Uber home, which can be a little more difficult with the pooch.

http://www.rogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Menu-SFO.pdf

Triple Voodoo

As I write this I am a bit surprised I have only been to Triple Voodoo once.  A dog friendly brewery that is a ten minute walk from home?  You would think I would be there every week.  However, dog friendly boozing tends to be better outside for me, and Triple Voodoo only has indoor seating.  At they do allow dogs indoors.

Triple Voodoo does not have food, hence the dogs are allowed, but you can get food from the Mexican spot next door.

Their beers seems to be getting better to me, as when they first opened there was not much I liked.  The Anarchy IPA is pretty good right now.  They only have beer, so be warned if you bring a wine-o or cocktail fiend.

One thing that is really cool about Triple Voodoo is they seem to have rescue dog events on a fairly regular occasion.  Drinking for a good cause is always great.

http://triplevoodoo.com

21st Amendment (sometimes)

21st is one of my favorite spots in the city. Great beer, solid food, and I can walk there and stumble home. Like it so much we had our wedding rehearsal dinner there. Open bar of course (think they lost money that night).

 On occasion, 21st uses De Boom Street (yes that is the name) as an outdoor seating area.  When they do this is somewhat of a mystery to me, so we never know if we can go unless we call or walk over.  During baseball season, it is often open, but is very crowded, making it tough for the dog.  However during the off season or non game days, it is a great choice.

Sometimes there are servers, other times you need to order at the bar inside.

21st always has interesting and good beers, in addition to the usual suspects (Brew Free or Die IPA is always a reliable option).

Food is good, mostly typical bar food like burgers, fish tacos and pizza.  Nothing really particular stands out, just depends what I am in the mood for.

They also have a TV outside, but there is only one, and it is a little small and hard to see with the glare.

Live music happens a handful of times of year, which is great.  Apparently they want to do it more but it is inanely expensive to get the City approval yaddy yaddy yada.

http://21st-amendment.com/

Anchor Steam/The Yard at Mission Rock

I wrote a good chunk of this blog over the last week or two, but now there is a new one to add!  The Yard at Mission Rock is a cool pop-up village across McCovey Cove from AT&T.  The biggest draw, by far, is the Anchor beer garden.  A decent sized beer garden with 13 (!) Anchor brews on tap.

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The beer garden is a preview of what is to come in this area, with Anchor expanding to have a new brewery, restaurant etc. over here that is supposed to quadruple their production.  The people at the beer garden tell me they will try and have all the new releases and harder to get beers here.

The Yard is made up of mostly shipping containers, with a few food trucks, a wine bus, and a coffee cart.   “Whole Beast” shares the beer garden and has a decent selection of food.  You can also grab food from one of the food trucks and bring it into the beer garden.

There is no wine or hard alcohol in the beer garden area, and there are a ton of signs that say you cannot bring outside beverages in.  This is not ideal for the wife, who wanted to have some wine.  Hopefully this will change.

In any event, I see myself here often.  Super close, Anchor makes great beer, and great bay views.  They also have a couple TVs outside, which is dangerous.  Beer, dog, wife, outside, AND basketball games?  Uh oh.

http://www.theyardsf.com

Am I missing any?  Let me know in the comments!

Sierra Nevada – Round 2

I recently was in Chico celebrating the brother-in-law’s birthday (who claims to be “Oregon IPA” but is yet to make that happen), and so naturally, we went to Sierra Nevada on night one.  This trip allowed me to try 3 IPAs that I have not yet had a chance to review, so here goes.

Hop Hunter IPA

I was most excited to try the Hop Hunter, as the much-hyped new and innovative method of vaporizing wet hops to allow for a year-round wet hop experience was intriguing.  In addition, the recent spat between Lagunitas and Sierra over the bottle added to the fun.

ABV – 6.2%

IBUs – 60

The aroma gets you right off the bat on this one.  It is probably the most redeeming and exciting part of this beer.  Big, dank grapefruit nose.  Some floral and citrus notes.

Nice golden-amber color, light carbonation, and minimal head.

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Not overly hoppy, with a nice, oily mouthfeel.  Finish was OK, not as smooth as Torpedo.  Overall, I was expecting (or hoping) to be blown away but was not.  It was good, but after having some wet hop beers last season (including Sierra’s Wet Hop), it did not seem to meet up.  It is a great concept to be able to have a wet hop beer in late-January, but I was not blown away.

I by no means did not dislike this one, I just think my expectations were a little overboard.

88/100

Golden IPA

Golden IPA was basically the opposite situation than the Hop Hunter.  I had low expectations for this one, but ended up being pleasantly surprised.

ABV – 5.9%

IBUs – 55

The Golden IPA certain holds up to its name, golden.

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Nose is a light citrus, nothing overwhelming.

Flavor was crisp and refreshing.  Although I sucked down a few on a January night, I could see myself sitting in the sun having several of these.  Light bodied, citrusy notes.  Minimal pine.  Smooth with a hint of a lingering aftertaste.

There is nothing particularly memorable about this beer, but it is very well balanced and drinkable.  I think by the end of the night I actually had more of these than the Hop Hunter.

86/100

Bindfold Black IPA

Last beer I had was the Blindfold Black.  I will admit, I had this right at the end of the night after having several of the above-reviewed beers.  As my picture depicts, things were starting to get fuzzy at this point…

ABV – 7.7%

IBUs – 70

Dark blackish-brown pour with decent, frothy head.  Strong lacing.

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Nose fills of roasted malt and quite smoky.  Initial taste is roasty with some chocalately coffee hints.  As it goes down, you start to get the piney hops.  Almost velvety.

Overall, it had a lot going on and it was enjoyable, although I could not see myself drinking more than one or two in a sitting.

85/100

All in all, another great trip to the brewery.  Dinner was also fantastic, spent with good friends and some solid fish and chips.  One of my favorite breweries to go to as there are always plenty of interesting beers and solid food and service.

You can learn more about Sierra Nevada’s IPAs on their website.

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

Where – Dogpatch Saloon

How – On Tap (and in bombers)

ABV- 8.00%

IBUs – 102

Hop Stoopid is a nice hop bomb from Lagunitas.  Pours a clean, golden amber.

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Nose has strong grapefruit notes.  Slight caramel and boozyness.  The pup agrees.

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Bitter and hoppy right as it hits the lips.  Some malty sweetness and slightly earthy.  Hops come through at all points.

It is never overwhelming, and always tastes fresh and well balanced.  A great beer when you want to get hit with some strong hops, but not a massive ABV.

Overall, a solid beer, especially for the price.  Tends to be right around $4 for a bomber which feels like a steal.

88/100

http://lagunitas.com/beers/hop-stoopid/

Firestone Union Jack IPA

Where – Paso Robles Brewery and more recently at home

How – On Draft and more recently in bottle

ABV – 7.5%

IBUs – 70

Firestone Union Jack IPA calls itself an “aggressively hopped West Coast-style IPA.”  It certainly is a West Coast-style IPA, but is not one of the bigger hop bombs out there.

It pours a nice golden color, with average white head.

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Fairly aromatic, with citrus and tropical notes, and a hint of maltyness.

Flavor is well balanced.  The hops are there, but not overwhelming.  Very smooth, and not much bitterness.  Tropical notes and grapefruit carry through from the nose.

Overall, I consider Union Jack a great mid-week beer.  Nice and smooth, easy to drink, not overpowering.  Does not taste like a 7.5%er, hence I do not feel bad having one or two on a Tuesday evening.  Always a solid option.

92/100

On another note, drinking at the Paso Robles Brewery is great.  The patio allows dogs which is always a welcome sight (see below).  The interior is just as great, with TVs for sports, a packed bar, and a cool chic barnhouse feel.  There is also a small gift shop with some quality items.  All in all, a must stop when driving through Paso, and borderline reason enough to spend the night.

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http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/union-jack

Golden Road Brewing – Wolf Among Weeds, Heal the Bay IPA

I recently bought some cans of Golden Road Brewing’s Wolf Among Weeds and Heal the Bay IPA.  They were both fairly expensive for a four pack of 16 oz. cans, so I had high expectations.

Wolf Among Weeds

Where – Home

How – 16 Oz. Can, poured into glass

ABV – 8.0%

IBUs – 80

Wolf Among Weeds pours a slightly cloudy and very golden blonde.  Decent head.

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Nose is very tropical and fragrant.  Pineapple/tropical fruit present right away.  Some citrus and earthiness as well.

Taste is similarly fruity, with good hop balance and piney-ness.  The taste is fairly unique and unlike the typical West Coast IPA, although the hoppyness is still there.

Overall, it was very enjoyable.  Biggest issue, quite frankly, was the price.

87/100

http://www.goldenroad.la/wolf-among-weeds-ipa/

Heal the Bay IPA

Where – Home

How – 16 Oz. Can

ABV – 6.8%

IBUs – 65

I only got a single can of this one, and drank it on the roof straight from the can,so my review will be limited for now.

heal

I had this immediately after I drank a Wolf, and immediately determined I preferred the Wolf.

Piney nose, hops seemed restrained.  Good mouthfeel, slightly creamy, with some citrus in the finish.

There was nothing bad about it, but there was also nothing memorable.

78/100

http://www.goldenroad.la/heal-the-bay

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

Where – Public House SF

How – On Draft

ABV – 6.1%

IBUs – 70

I am in the minority.  I am not obsessed with Pliny the Elder like most.  It is good, but I am going to reserve my review on it until I have it on draft again.  I have only had it in bottles the last year or two, so I am going to give it a “fresh” look and see if my opinion changes.

That being said, I love Blind Pig.

Pours a nice copper color with medium carbonation.  The head quickly recedes.

pig

Good hop aroma, citrus and pines throughout.

The first thought tasting it is…smoooooth.  I have been drinking a great deal of IIPAs, so this one almost hits like a session beer.  Very well balanced and medium body.  Minimal carbonation.  Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall, this is about a perfect warm day IPA for me.

95/100