Notes from CA, Part V: And even more beer

Beer notes below are reversed, as somehow I missed publishing part III earlier.  Oh well, it’s posted now, just out of order.

Part III, though, shows us not starting off that well in our beer tasting. Part IV was getting better. And now we get to the highlights. We spent a night in Healdsburg so that we could drink quite freely at Bear Republic. They’ve got a nice patio and we had dinner and samplers and several pints and quite enjoyed ourself. The place itself is a bit bright and overdone for my tastes, but ooooh boy the beers. Of course the Hop Rod and the Racer 5 are well-known classics. They also have an amazing stout and a solid porter. We also tried their “Rebellion” that I really enjoyed. The rebel part is their liberal use of a newer hop variety, Simcoe, and it really works. Both malt and hop flavors are dense and rich with a creamy finish. Well done!

The next day we went through Santa Rosa so we spent happy hour at the Russian River brewpub. This, my friends, is nirvana. They are masters at IPAs and Belgians of all varieties. Why we didn’t stay in Santa Rosa so that I could have drunk more carefreely I don’t know, but as it was we did pretty well. They do a variety of incredibly sour, funky Belgian ales, a really wonderful, spicy tripel, and a rich, yeasty Dubbel. And then there were three IPAs on tap, all of them superb, but rising above them all was Pliny the Elder. These are all beers that make beer hunting the joy that it is. This place alone would make Santa Rosa a place to live.

One other beer note, while I’m listing. Our last night back in San Francisco, we had a few beers at Magnolia in the Haight district (not very good–seems to me those hippie, dead-head brewers need to clean their tap lines a little more), had some good Italian in North Beach, and ended up for some beers at the Rogue Pub which was just around the corner from our hotel. I know it’s not California beer and I’m somewhat mixed on Rogue’s brews (some are really solid, some less so), but I hadn’t had their imperial ipa or their imperial porter before. These wound up being great ways to end our beer adventures. Very well-crafted, thick beers (but I was then quite saddened to realize what the imperial ipa costs at retail–not too sure it’s worth that!).

I feel like we really ended up sampling a range of california beers, from the very marginal Magnolia and so-so Thirsty Bear to the superb Bear Republic and Lagunitas and the downright heavenly Russian River. All in all, a good drinking excursion. Oh yea, the wine…. I’ll get to that next post.

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