Sunday, October 18, 2009

5 Breweries, 3 Days

Regan and I decided to pack up the car and head out on a little road trip recently. We did a little loop, heading straight down I-5 for the Bay area, then looped up and around toward the California 1 and up the coast route back into Oregon. Pictured above is a view south from Port Orford (could this be heaven??) toward Humbug Mountain, where we made a nice camp.

The drive and time alone with my busy wife was amazing. The scenery was spectacular. And the beer...yes, beer...was truly incredible. On the trip, I was able to hit 5 of my very favorite breweries, all situated (conveniently) along our route.

First, there was Lagunitas, in Petaluma, CA.
Pints consumed = 2

* Hop Stoopid (imperial IPA) - mouth puckering hopiness; crisp, clean and dry. amazing
* Benny and the Jets (bourbon barrel aged imperial stout) - 11% alcohol. rich malt. sweet. good.

Then there was Russian River, in Santa Rosa, CA.
Pints consumed = I don't remember

* Sample Tray - all of the breweries current offerings in 1 convenient place.
* Blind Pig IPA - A tasty, clean and hoppy IPA. Aged in oak for a little while before serving
* Pliny the Elder - my favorite imperial IPA on earth. Nobody does this style better than Vinnie.
* Others??? Hmmmm. Don't remember, and I blame it on Vinnie.

Bear Republic Brewing came next. In Healdsburg, CA.
Pints consumed = 2

* Racer X (imperial IPA) -big citrusy hop flavor. Dry and crisp. California brewers really know how to brew double IPAs, and I'm not sure why. Portland brewers should take a workshop from any 1 of them.
* Hop Rod Rye (brown or rye IPA) - this is one of my favorite ipa-style beers. A good chunk of the malt bill is made with rye malt. Gives the beer a warm, rich spiciness. Goes well with loads of hops.

Followed by Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville, CA.
Pints consumed = 1

* AV IPA - a good, not great IPA. Very malty, a little too fruity, and with a slightly higher finishing gravity. This gives the beer (in my opinion) a heaviness that makes me want to only have 1 pint. But a spectacular IPA. This is similar to most IPAs you get in Portland.

Finishing with Eel River Brewing, Fortuna, CA.
Pints consumed = 2

* ER IPA - another good, not great india pale.
* ER Triple Exhaultation (old ale) - probably one of my favorite american strong ales (after Hair of the Dog Fred, of course). This one has an intensely rich malt flavor, characterized by a sugary sweetness (maybe from brown sugar or teacle?) and just enough hops to keep it from getting cloying.


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