Where to Drink – Anchor Brewing Tour!

I am ashamed to say I have lived in the Bay Area for ten years, and San Francisco for over six (and within a mile of the brewery for all that time), and I only recently did the Anchor Brewing tour.  A big factor was that the tour used to only be on weekdays (but was free!).  However, it used to get booked up months in advance, and it was very hard to get a last minute reservation (one time I called every day for two weeks to try and get in for my birthday, and there were no cancellations).

Recently, Anchor opened the tour up on weekends, and although they now charge $15, having it on the weekend is clutch.  We were able to book about 4 weeks in advance, and had a group of 10.

Anchor is one of the pioneering craft breweries, and only remaining breweries to make steam beer.  Anchor Steam is always a solid option, and is pretty ubiquitous in the City.

The tour starts off in the very cool bar.  The bar is a relic from years past.  Walls are lined with beer trays from other breweries, and the bar is covered in wood.

Tour starts with a (small) pour of Anchor Steam.  There were a couple extras poured so you know I grabbed one of those as well.

You are then brought into the brewery for a tour of the facility.  The copper tuns are a sight.  We got to see the hop rooms, steam rooms, bottling area, barrel room and more.  The brewery has great views of downtown as well.

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During the tour you get a pretty good sense of the history of the brewery, dating back to the late 1800s, to when Maytag purchased and saved the brewery until the present.

After the tour ends, you return to the bar area for a tasting.  On tap for us was Anchor IPA, Liberty Ale, Winter Wheat, California Lager, Barrel Ale, and the 2015 Christmas Ale.

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Liberty and California Lager are my favorite of the Anchor beers at the tasting.  Liberty is a nice, simple but balanced IPA.  California Lager is a prime summer beer.

I was not blown away by the 2015 Christmas.  2013 is my favorite recent vintage.  However, the Christmas “Tree” was pretty cool!

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I was somewhat surprised at the number of beers on tap.  The day before, I went to the Anchor tasting room at the Yard (www.the yardsf.com).  They have 16 beers on tap.  Apparently, the brewery itself only really gets the flagship or most popular beers.  I suppose it makes sense, considering that it is not open to the public, but I was a bit bummed that I had already had every beer they had at the brewery.

Ended the day buying a few things in the gift shop, which was small but sufficient.  It was a great tour, and even more fun with friends.  My wife thoroughly enjoyed herself, and she is not a big beer drinker.  However, non-beer drinkers will enjoy the history, and I think that makes people more willing to try beers they otherwise would not consider.

Overall, a must do when in SF in my humble, beer-loving opinion.  The reservation process is easy but I would plan on booking several weeks in advance for a weekend tour.

Cheers to beers!

http://www.anchorbrewing.com

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – North SF Bay Area

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.

The third in this series will focus on dog-friendly breweries north of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lagunitas Brewery

Let’s start with one of the better known craft breweries, Lagunitas.

The Lagunitas brewery is a great stop.  Although it is in an industrial area, once you walk through the gates, it is all brewery and good times.

Lagunitas has a huge outdoor patio filled with picnic type tables.  It is never easy to find a seat, despite the fact that it is pretty huge.  Dogs are allowed anywhere outside.

Weekend afternoons will oftentimes have live music.

Food is good, not great.  Fairly standard fare, essentially nachos, wings and sandwiches.

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Mound of nachos at Lagunitas.

Beers are most of your favorite Lagunitas classics.  IPA, Hoop Stooid, Pils etc.  They typically do not seem to have many “special” releases or harder to find options, but the environment and other classics make up for it.

https://lagunitas.com/taprooms/petaluma

Bear Republic Brewing

Lagunitas and Bear Republic in one day is a good day in my book.

Bear Republic is a short drive up the 101, about 30 miles.

Bear Republic has a decent sized outside patio where dogs are allowed.  Bear Republic is more of a brewpup that Lagunitas, feel more like a restaurant than a brewery.  Little bit tighter squeeze for the dog.

Food is a little higher end with a huge menu.  Something for everyone.

Beers are great.  I am a big fan of Bear Republic so am always happy.  More likely to get something unique or new here than Lagunitas.  Last time for me, it was the Hop Shovel, which was fantastic.

Great place for dinner and a few beers.

http://bearrepublic.com/brewpub/

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Anderson Valley Brewing Company is a doggie heaven.  The property is huge, including a disc golf course.

Dogs are allowed both inside the tasting room and all over the outdoor grounds.  It takes a few hours for us to get here, so when we finally make it, the huge property is perfect for the pup.

I personally think the Boont Amber is by far their best beer.  Certainly will find some beers at the brewery you do not see in the stores down here.

One of these days I would love to stay nearby to be able to spend the whole afternoon playing disc golf and hanging out, but most of the time we keep driving and spend the night at Mendocino.

(Also, NEED to get to their annual Beer Fest, have had conflicts the last few years)

https://avbc.com/the-brewery/

Russian River Brew Pub

Russian River Brewery, more known for their Pliny the Elder and Younger than the dog friendly aspect.  I will admit, we have never brought the dog here, as most times it is either crazy packed or we are just stopping to stock up on Pliny and Blind Pig for home.  NOTE – apparently dogs have to be leashed outside the gated area, so they cannot be “in” the patio area with you…

Last time I was there was a Tuesday late-morning, so there were plenty of seats out front that the dog could be at.

What else is there to say about Russian River?  It is an experience for all beer nerds due to the cult following they have created.  So, this place is maybe more about the beer than worrying if the dog can make it (sorry Sara!!).

IMG_6275http://russianriverbrewing.com/brew-pub/

Stumptown Brewery

One of our favorite dog friendly weekends is the Russian River.  But, not Russian River Brewery, actually going to the river and staying at a cabin or one of the little inns nearby.

We can go to the river with the dog, take her to wineries, and a few dog friendly restaurants in Guerneville.  So, for going to the wineries all day, my treat is going to Stumptown at the end of the day.

Stumptown is right on the main road, located above the river.  Stumptown has a huge back patio that looks over a grassy area and the river.  People oftentimes pull their canoes/tubes up at Stumptown and grab a beer.

Technically, the dogs are only allowed in a small gated dog area.  I have seen several dogs in there before.  There is a small table you can sit at in the dog area, however it is not an idea place to have to sit (so, if you are not comfortable leaving your dog alone with other dogs, this may not be for you).

Sometimes, late at night or on weekdays when it is not busy, we have had the pup on the balcony with us, but it has to be quiet for that to happen.

The beer is decent, Rat Bastard Pale is my favorite.  We have never eaten there, but the food is basic bar fare.

You come here for the view and because it is the only brewery on the river!

http://stumptown.com/

Marin Brewing Company

Marin Brewing Company is right across the bay from SF.  Located in a small mall in Larkspur, you do not have high expectations as you fight to find parking.  However, once you get through the mall and to the main attraction, you will find a pretty hopping brewery with a ton of outdoor seats.

Again, this falls more under the brewpup than brewery theme, but they do have a great selection of their beers on tap.  They make a few good IPAs, 3 Flowers being my favorite.  They also have some unique fruit beers, including raspberry, blueberry and a peach beer.

Food is good enough, standard bar food.

Sometimes a great way to get out of the City and/or Karl the Fog as you can get there quickly and easily.

http://www.marinbrewing.com/

Iron Springs Pub

The most recent North Bay brewery we visited was Iron Springs.  Iron Spring is in Fairfax, and a great stop on the way home after a hike in the Marin Headlands/Fairfax.

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Pre-brewery hike at the aptly named Lake Lagunitas.

I had never heard of Iron Springs before recently, by finding the brewery online when looking for post-hike beer/lunch.  Now that I have been there, I have noticed it popping up in a few local bars.  This is for good reason, they make some quality beers.

I really enjoyed the Casey Jones Imperial IPA (which has a dog on the label!).  The JC Flyer IPA was also quite good.

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Very impressive flight at Iron Springs.

The food was pretty good as well.  A slightly more varied menu than a typical brewery.  NOthing fancy or too crazy, but a good amount of options.

Definitely a must stop after a day in the North Bay.

http://ironspringspub.com/the-pub/

Again, these are probably not all the dog friendly breweries in the greater North Bay area, but this is a pretty good start for a nice little road trip!  I will be writing an article about dog friendly breweries in the Tahoe/Gold Country area soon!

Let me know if I missed any in the comments.

Dog Friendly Brewery Series – SF Bay Area – East Bay and Peninsula

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.

The second in this series will focus on dog-friendly breweries in my expanded backyard, the East Bay and Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay Area.

A future article will follow on the North Bay, as there are a ton of dog friendly breweries up there!

East Bay

Drakes

Drakes brews great beers, and has plenty of room for the pup.  Perfect combo.

Drakes has a large outdoor area, with covered and uncovered seating.  Last trip over there it was raining, but we could still enjoy some brews outside with the pup in the covered seating area.

It is in a somewhat awkward area and hard to find the first time you go, but worth the trek (note, basically go into the Walmart parking lot, drive past the Walmart entrance while avoiding the Walmartions, and you are there).

They have food, but I have not yet tried anything other than the snacks (nuts, pretzels).  Apparently, they rotate the food menu, as I have seen days where most of the food was paninis, and other days where they only had tacos and quesadillas.

They have a pretty diverse beer selection, with everything from hop bombs to sours and everything in between.  This is also a bonus as it caters to more than just hopheads.

They also have a special event on the first Friday of each month with food trucks, music, etc.

Overall, one of my favorite places to take the pup to get high quality beers.

hop black

Oh yeah, and Hopocalypse Black Label is pretty damn good.

http://drinkdrakes.com/barrelhouse/

Faction

Faction’s biggest draw is likely the view.

Faction is right on the bay in Alameda.  Day or night, the view is silly.  As a result, it tends to be packed on weekends.

Weekends they tend to have a food truck or BBQ stand.  Getting a seat outside can be tough on a nice day.  There is plenty of seating inside as well, and I have seen people with their dogs inside.

Beers are all pretty solid, and they tend to sway more on the hoppy, bigger beers.  This is somewhat of a bummer, as the wife is not huge on hops, making a trip here require some compromise (ie, go across the street to the Building 43 Winery).

One day we will do the whole Alameda experience, hitting the distilleries and taking the ferry, and that will presumably get a little messy.

Overall, a must hit on a clear day.

http://factionbrewing.com/tasting-room/

Linden Street

Linden Street is a cool brewery as it is a change of pace.  Linden Street makes unique beers, and although big hops bombs are not on the menu, other really good and different beers are.

The Common Lager, Black Lager and Bitter are my favorites.

Laid back atmosphere and decent amount of outdoor seating.  Most of the seating is shaded, so it can get crispy. They have a Ramen guy on site usually, and apparently also have food trucks on occassion, although I have not been there for that.

A nice bonus is they seem to be rescue dog advocates and occasionally have events with rescue organizations.

This is a great place to go to just take it easy and have a few more lightly hopped and low-ABV beers.

http://www.lindenstreetbrewing.com/

Peninsula

Half Moon Bay Brewery

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is one of my all-time favorite weekend spots.  Hop in the car with the wife and pup, get a good hike in in McNee State Park or a run from the harbor to Moss Beach and back, then put back a few and eat great food.

I have dedicated a whole blog to HMB: https://californiaipas.com/2014/08/25/half-moon-bay-brewing-company/

I must say over the last year or two, they have really stepped up their beers.  Before, the big draw was the location and food, however the quality of their beers has really increased recently.

hmb

How do you complain about this?

Hop Dogma

Hop Dogma is the other brewery in Half Moon Bay/El Granada.

Hop Dogma is in a cool Victorian building in what is apparently the downtown El Granada.  It is a relatively small space and only has indoor seating.  However, since they do not serve food (other than maybe some potato chips), the pups are allowed inside!

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Sara relaxing inside Hop Dogma

The beers tend to be hop forward (good for CaliforniaIPA, not good for Mrs. CaliforniaIPA).  You can get pints or samplers.  I have enjoyed most of the beers I have had thus far, especially the IPAs and Pales.

dogma 1A great stop for high quality beers and good people, and you can bring the dog even if the weather is bad!

http://hopdogma.com/

Freewheel Brewing Company

Disclaimer.  I have not yet been here.  Terrible, I know.  How can this guy call himself CaliforniaIPA but he has never been to a brewery 30 miles away from him?

I have had a few of Freewheel’s beers and was impressed.  They focus on English-style cask conditioned ales, and so I owe it to my heritage to get there ASAP and have some brews and fish and chips.

California inspired English pub food, a visit and update to this post is to come ASAP.

http://freewheelbrewing.com/

Devil’s Canyon Brewery

Bad – Devil’s Canyon is mostly only open on Friday’s.  Good – they allow dogs on that one day.

Devil’s Canyon makes some pretty solid beers.  Their most popular beer seems to be the Full Boar Scotch Ale, I like the Sunshine Rye IPA.  Their line-up is fairly diverse with something to suit everyone.

On Fridays they host off the grid, so you know you will get some good grub to go with the good food.  The schedule is usually posted online at: http://devilscanyon.com/organizer/food-truck-friday-events/

Overall, a good time is pretty close to guaranteed, just wish they would open more frequently.

Did I miss any?  If so, give me a shout in the comments.

SF Beer Week Recap – Part 3

The last post is kind of a beer week post, but mostly a Pliny the Younger post.  It is quite convenient that Beer Week and PTY time overlap, further adding to the craziness (PS. I am pretty surprised to still see PTY showing up and Toronado and City Beer Store this week).

PTY releases are announced, subtly or not, at some places, and others are unannounced.  Naturally, the unannounced ones are a zoo, and require significant free time to make happen.

The announced releases in SF had lines building up for hours, with hundred of people in queue.  I cannot say I am surprised.  This is San Francisco, and I am fairly certain 90% of people do not actually work.  Releases at Monks, Toronado etc. were never going to happen for me.  I was confident I would get it somewhere unannounced or not in the City.  My confidence began to dwindle, however, as the week went on.

First Attempt

Rose and Crown had IPA day Wednesday, and explicitly informed of the PTY release (on an aside, Wednesday was chock full of events, that and Thursday would have been the best days to take off, as Thursday would be a recuperation day).

I “snuck” away from work around 1050 am to get to there.  Stupidly, I figured there would not be that long of a line on a Wednesday morning in Palo Alto, as i assumed most Peninsula folk were working (that only happens in SF right? – WRONG). With only a 5 gallon keg, I figured I did not have much of a shot, but wanted to see anyway.  I was there and I was not going to give up that easily.

After waiting a little over an hour and a half I fell about 10 people short.  To be honest, i was surprised I was that close.  It turns out they were doing 6 oz. pours, but it still lasted longer than the line seemed to indicate.  Defeated, I instead got a Pliny the Elder (*note, I was shocked to see how many people left after they announced the PTY was out.  You just waited in line an hour plus, you have earned a beer, and there were plenty of great options on tap).

I have never historically fallen into the Pliny obsession.  I enjoy the beer, but do not fully embrace the craze of getting it (and I actually probably like Blind Pig better than Pliny, and there are a bunch of DIPAs out there that are just as good or better).  That being said, Russian River has done a masterful job of getting people hooked and the limited releases make the hunt almost more exciting than the beer.  After getting denied the Younger I was determined to get it.

However, something about being in line on a killer, sunny Wednesday morning and talking to strangers about beer, while waiting to get a beer, was a really fun experience.  Certainly not something you do too often, and probably only something you can do in a place like the Bay Area in February.  Even though I did not score the Younger that day, I learned about some new beers, an insider tip on where PTY would be the next day unadvertised (and I could not go down to Hayward to next day to get it, but the tip was right), and got to have a Pliny the Elder for lunch.  In the end, the hunt and wait, although deflating, was pretty damn fun.

So, the hunt continued.

 How Not to Get It

After several more days of trying to find Pliny in the new “high tech” way (Taplist, Twitter, Instagram…), and several near misses, a realization I have had in many facets of my life re-emerged.  Sometimes getting things the old fashioned way works best.

Just like connecting with old friends, getting new business, and apparently getting Pliny the Younger, apps and Twitter and the Internet are not the best solution. After missing out at Rose and Crown, I found myself frantically checking Twitter, Untapped, Taplist etc. trying to smell out the next Pliny pour. I messaged bars that I knew were going to get it and did not have much luck. Eventually the Marriot Marquis was nice enough to mention me in a tweet when they were tapping theirs, but I was 30 miles away. A lifetime in Pliny season.

After many near misses that are not worth chronicling, I realized I should just hit the pavement and ask a “friend” at the closest bar to us that regularly gets the Pliny. We frequent this particular spot fairly regularly, and thus are friendly with many of the people that work there and that is all it took.  While enjoying a different beer specially created for SF Beer Week, I asked and I received, PTY on tap the next morning.  With the scoop in hand, the next day I was enjoying several Plinys with little to no wait.

So, How Was It?

I was fearful, and assuming, the Younger would not live up to the hype. How could it? People waiting in line 8 hours at the brewery?!  People camping out in front of Toronado? Me obsessively refreshing my Twitter feed (ok, not that big of a commitment, but still, I was getting anxious thinking I would miss it).

To my pleasant surprise, it was pretty damn good. So good, my wife, who I do not think has ever liked an IPA I have given her, even liked it.

PTY pours a fairly translucent golden orange.  Minimal head, nice lacing.

pliny one

I got enough in my first order to tide me over for an hour or so…

pliny 2

I invited a couple friends, who made sure to get enough to last them as well.  The picture below shows the nice lacing.

MmmMmm

MmmMmm

Nice citrus and tropical fruit notes are present on the nose.  Some light floral tones as well.

Alcohol content is somewhere between 10 and 11.5%, but there is no boozyness in Mr. Younger.

The one thing that is unmistakable about this beer is its balance.  Less malty than the Elder, dare I say perfect bitterness and hops, and smooth as you could imagine.  Crisp and juicy citrus flavors.  Incredibly drinkable.  Does not feel like a Triple IPA as it is not a “hop bomb.”

My personal favorite part, perfectly clean finish with no aftertaste.

99/100 – my highest review ever.  I did not expect this to happen, but it was so damn smooth I had no choice.

Conclusion

Beer week was a hell of a time.  I cannot imagine any city putting on a better one, just because of the size of our city and the plethora of breweries close to home.  Next year mandates that I take a few days off to fully enjoy the entire event.  I definitely need to attend the Opening Gala, and probably the DIPA fest in Hayward.

I am already looking forward to next year, and must thank all the hard working people from the SF Brewer’s Guild for an incredible week.

SF Beer Week Recap – Part 2

The middle of the week saw a few more events for me and a few more great beers.  I found myself wishing I had taken a day or two off to really immerse myself in the fun, but as it worked out, I had a pretty busy work week and was somewhat limited in the events I could go to.

Rose and Crown IPA Day

Wednesday saw me attend the Rose and Crown event, which was labeled as an IPA Day, but in reality was a battle for the Pliny the Younger.  I headed over to the Rose and Crown around 10:55 and ended up being in line until 12:30 and missed the PTY by about 10 people.  My last post in this series will deal solely with the Pliny hunt/craze/shitshow so I will save that for now.

In the end, I did enjoy a Pliny the Elder as my consolation prize. I have not yet written a review on the Pliny the Elder, so will do an abridged one now. Personally, I have never been as impressed by Pliny the Elder as most people.  It is a solid beer, but the true genius in it may just be the intentional or unintentional marketing and limited availability.  There is a sense of accomplishment when you get one on draft or have a “friend” at a store who will save some for you or let you know when they are coming in.  The beer itself is very good, but the hunt is where people seem to lose sight. Elder pours a deep golden orange.  Limited head that tends to stick to the glass. pliny Nose is strong citrus, pine and pineapple notes.  Flavor mimics the nose with some substantial hoppy bitterness.  Fairly crisp, and the fresher the better it seems.  One fallback for me is it is fairly dry. It is a great beer, but it does not distinguish itself for me as some people suggest.  I actually may even prefer Blind Pig. 94/100

Firestone Tap Takeover at Steep Brew Potrero (Whole Foods)

Thursday was a tough call for me, Firestone Tap Takeover or Ballast Point Tap Takeover at Public House.  I opted for Firestone’s event as I had had many of the Ballast Point beers already.  In a perfect world, or if I did not have to work early the next morning, I would have hit both (cue the boos).

I had the Double Jack and a Sucaba at the Firestone Event.  There was an option to do three samples and a cheese pairing, but I was only interested in one of the beers offered for the pairing.

I have had every iteration in the “Jack” Series (Union Jack, Easy Jack, Wookey Jack, Double Jack) and am thoroughly impressed with all of them.

Double Jack rings in at 9.5% ABV and 85 IBUs. Pour is a nice fairly clear orange with a decent frothy head. jack Nose fills of grapefruit and oranges with a ton of hops. The flavor is piney with full frontal hops, but still balanced and smooth.  Nice sticky mouthfeel with some minimal malty sweetness.

A really quality DIPA. 93/100

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

I also tried the §ucaba, which is a monster Barleywine.  Heavy on the bourbon and boozyness, this is a sipper for sure.

Other Events, Stand Outs

I had intended to cheat on IPA and go to the Almanac and Friends Sourfest at Public House on Friday night, however at 3:30 the line was already 40 deep, and I was in a suit and did not want to wait in the sun for a non-IPA event.  When I went back at 5, there was still a significant line, so headed across the street to Lucky Strike for some Lagunitas.  In two hours at Lucky Strike, the line at Public House never really diminished, so I never made.

I was able to enjoy a few beers at StrEAT Food SOMA the next day, including the Bear Republic Hop Shovel.  Nice, floral beer, and was pretty solid on the hot day that Saturday was.  This event was just “OK”, especially considering a few of the beers sold out pretty quick.  I was hoping to try 101 North’s Heroine IPA but they were sold out by 12:45.

I also tried the Money Paw/Drake’s Special SF Beer Week collabo at Public House, which was decent.  It was very smooth, but also fairly run of the mill.  Nothing that particularly stood out about that one, but it is always cool to see breweries work together.

monkey

A mentioned, to really embrace all Beer Week offers, you have to take a day or two off.  Wednesday in particular was chock-full of events, and would have loved to have Wednesday and Thursday off to enjoy and recover…next year.

I will have one more blog on SF Beer Week soon, with a focus on the unicorn of West Coast craft beer.

SF Beer Week Recap – Part 1

Sf Beer Week has lived up to all my expectations.  A ton of great events, and a realization that I may need to take some vacation time next year to get more in.  That being said, I garnered enough fodder for three fairly hearty posts.

Right off the bat, I must admit that i am pretty mad at myself for not making the Opening Gala.  Forgot to buy tickets before it was too late, then when I had an opportunity to get tickets, I could not get back to SF from Palo Alto in time to make it (that darn work thing and traffic).  Next year this will not happen again.  Luckily I had some good beers that night away from the Gala, including a Moylan’s Hop Craic IIIIPA.

Opening Weekend

Drakes – I kicked off my SF Beer Week Saturday morning by doing a quick East Bay run to Drake’s and Faction.  Neither had a Beer Week event, but I had been wanting to try the Hopocalypse series so made the trek.

Hopocalypse Black Label was a IIIPA beast.

12.5% and 100+ IBUs.

Pours dark, almost amber.  Minimal head.

hop blackTropical fruits abound in the nose with some citrus.  Hops are fairly muted.

Taste is in line with the nose, juicy tropical fruits and some citrusy hints.  Hops are present but balanced by the tropical fruit as well as the lingering sweetness.  Almost a brown sugar sweetness.  Slightly oily and smooth.  Super drinkable, although I could not drink too many of them due to the sweet tones.

Fun beer and look forward to next year’s.

94/100

http://drinkdrakes.com/beer/hopocalypse-black-label/

Hopocalypse Green Label (also heard it called White Label) was a more traditional, west coast DIPA.

9.3% and 100+ IBUs.

Pours a copper/orange hue with some lingering head.

hop greenNose is grapefruity and hoppy and slightly floral, how an IPA should come off.

Good bitterness and hoppy taste from the get go.  Grapefruit comes through throughout.  Hint of sweetness but nothing compared to the Black Label.

Overall, a very enjoyable and drinkable DIPA.

96/100

http://drinkdrakes.com/beer/drakes-hopocalypse/

Drake’s is in a somewhat odd location, behind a Walmart in San Leandro, but worth the trek.  I enjoy all of their beers (wife really enjoyed the sour she had as well), there were snacks and some heavier food options, and most importantly, outdoor seating to bring the pup.  It was raining and we were able to sit in a covered area, but on a sunny day there are other outdoor tables, along with plenty inside seating.  Will be back for sure.

The Willows – IPAs v. Sours

Sunday evening included a visit to the Willows for their IPA v. Sours event.  Unsurprisingly, I went for some IPAs.  The bar was pretty packed but I was able to get a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, an Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, and my favorite, Almanac “Don’t Call it Frisco” DIPA.

willow

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, Almanac Don’t Call it Frisco, Dogfish 120 Minute

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

18% (yes, 18%) and 120 IBUs.

How this beer is 18% is beyond me.  Nothing like a barleywine, but instead a sweet, malty, IPA.  Barely any boozy flavor or heat.  Some hops in the nose but piney sap, hops and tropical notes.  Pretty well balanced and thoroughly enjoyable.  I cannot imagine drinking more than one or two, but it was a great experience.

94/100

http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/120-minute-ipa.htm

Almanac Don’t Call it Frisco

This was my winner for the night.  This one was apparently brewed only for SF Beer Week, and (According to tweets from Almanac) was a one time deal.  That is a shame.

Poured a cloudy, golden/orange.  Piney and citrus nose.  Big citrus and hop flavors.  Bitterness is crisp but balanced. Very smooth, very drinkable, very fresh.  All in all a damn good DIPA. Hope to see it again one day.

98/100

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail

Evil Twin’s was my least favorite of the night.  13%, unsure on IBUs.

Unfortunately, it was somewhat like 120 Minute’s little brother.  Similar flavor, however sweeter and more boozy.  Fun, but not as good as 120 Minute.  Maybe having alongside the 120 Minute was unfair.

85/100

http://eviltwin.dk/Molotov-Cocktail

One of the many benefits of SF Beer Week is trying placed you have been wanting to try but have found an excuse not too.  The Willows and this event was a perfect example.  I will for sure be going back to the Willows because of going for this event.

The first few days of Beer Week saw some other events and good beers, but these were the highlights.  However, the week was young and there was much fun to be had, and blogs to be posted in the near future.

 

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.

hunter

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.

golden

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.

black

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.

Knee Deep Simtra

Where – Whole Foods Steep Brew Potrero Hill

How – On Tap

ABV – 11.25%

IBUs – 131

I have been hearing good things about Knee Deep Brewing for a while, and was finally able to run into some on tap.  I agree with the hype.

Whole Foods had Simtra on tap.  I had one in a flight, and then had to get it on its own as it was great.

knee

Pours with limited head, a dark orangey-gold color.  A bit cloudy.

knee 2

Nose has earthy hoppiness and citrusy.  Little bit of tropical fruit.  Not boozy as one would expect.

First sip and I was shocked with how smooth it was.  Not what one would expect from a beer with 131 IBUs.  There obviously was some bitterness, but it was a nice smooth bitterness and by no means overwhelming.  Little bit of caramel, with a clean aftertaste with some tropical fruitiness.

All in all, I was pretty blown away by this one.  For an 11.25%-er, I could get in trouble if I was at the brewery or had more time on this particular night.  Highly recommended, and hoping to get up to the source sometime soon.

97/100

More info can be found on Knee Deep’s IPA at their website.

http://kneedeepbrewing.com/year-round-beers/simtra-3x-ipa/

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.

lGGY

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

hop

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.

IMG_4416

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.

IMG_3485

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