Beer Collage

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St. Patty’s Day Massacre

Something that you may or may not know about Lagunitas is that they have a reputation for being pot heads. I don’t know if it’s true or not but either way they have that reputation. On Saint Patrick’s Day 2005, a day they would live in infamy the Saint Patrick’s Day massacre took place. Every year on St. Patty’s day Lagunitas has a huge party where people who work there as well as anyone else who wants to join is encouraged to come by and have some beers. Well because of Lagunitas reputation some undercover cops tried to infiltrate the party in order to buy weed from the employees. Although lots of weed was there the undercover cops were only offered it and never charged so there was really no crime. The only thing that the cops did get them on was some underage kids who had managed to steal a few beers from the back. Although that should only be a minor infringement due to their rep. the cops shut down the brewery for 30 days. Because of this event Lagunitas not only throws a bigger party every year but they also honor the police officers by brewing a special beer called Under Cover Shut Down which is a particularly bitter beer.

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Today I went on a tour of my favorite brewery in the area. I am talking about Lagunitas in Petaluma. I have been to this brewery many times before but never taken the time to go on their tasting tour and I can tell you I do not know why I waited so long. Although the tour was a lot of fun it wasn’t exactly a tour, it was more of sitting in a loft overlooking the brewery while everyone drank free beer and listened to a brief history of the Lagunitas brewery. The loft that we were hanging out in was totally funky and was obviously the creation of the 126 employees that either still work there or did at one point. Although the loft was much cooler and there is a bar with 8 taps behind it, it reminded me of hanging out in my buddies attic when I was in high school sneaking beers from the fridge. After an hour of hanging out drinking and chatting it up with the other people on the tour as well as playing a game or two of foosball we took a short walk around the brewery. Lagunitas is one of the bigger brew houses that I have been to but including the loft and storage the whole brewery takes up only a small warehouse. The walk consisted of going around the storage area where they keep all of their pallets of beer as well as kegs. Then up a small flight of stair with fermenting tanks on either side and back down again. The walk took about 15 minutes but the overall tour took over an hour.

 As I have said before Lagunitas is my favorite micro brewery although I learned that Lagunitas has not been a micro brewery for some time now so I guess the title will have to change. A micro brewery has to make less than fifty thousand barrels and Lagunitas makes a hundred thousand a year and by 2012 they will be producing two hundred and fifty thousand barrels so they will definitely not be one at that point. Lagunitas ranked 22nd last year out of all the breweries in America and that included the big boys like Budweiser and are hoping to break into the top 10 with their new facilities. So don’t worry if you don’t live around the north bay because they are going to be expanding their territory shortly.

So the tour was fun but if you don’t have the time to take the tour the brew pub is more than worth a stop. Although it can get busy they do have a lot of room especially if it is sunny or a nice night because they have a very nice patio area. They have a lot of benches outside so you don’t just sit with your friends you sit with a bunch of people which I really like it makes for a cool social environment. The inside is also nice although it can get a little cramped. They generally don’t get busy until around 7 or 8 so anytime before that is pretty mellow and the service and food is fantastic so it’s a good place for lunch. Lagunitas is a great company and their beer is fantastic so I definitely recommend going to the brew pub if you’re in the area and even if you are not definitely go and buy a six pack, any of their beers are great but I recommend a Little Sumin Sumin.

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Interview with Chris Hopson, buyer and team leader of the beer department at WholeFoods.

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Magnolia Pub

This week I decided to go to the Magnolia brewery to review. Well I didn’t actually decided as much as ended up there after some endeavor. The original plan was to meet up with my friend and go to Anchor Steam because their beer is fantastic and I noticed that it got a good review on yelp. After walking over a mile from the Bart station to Anchor Steam I find out that it is only a brewery and not a brew pub and the only way to get a tour is by a six week reservation. I waited out front of Anchor steam for my friend to come pick me up so we could go to 21st Amendment brewery which is one of my long time favorite micro brews. Before taking off I double checked that it was open and that they weren’t just a brewery but actually served to the public. When we arrived at 21st Amendment I discovered that they do indeed serve to the public but only on Friday nights from 4 pm to 10 pm. I almost decided to go back home and forget this but on a recommendation from a friend I decided to go over to Magnolia pub on Haight st.

The first thing you should know about Magnolia Pub is that you should only go there for their beer. They do serve food and the pork sandwich I had was fantastic however it did cost 15 dollar and I did not think it was worth it. My friend ordered oysters at 3 dollars a pop and although they were good they did not warrant that price. The type of food they serve there is not the kind I want to see at a brew pub. It is a little too fancy for a pub in my eyes but to each their own I guess.

Now for the beer. When I was their they were serving 9 house beers ranging from a double IPA all the way to a beer that is more like a champagne than a beer. Out of the four beers I tried I started at the top and slowly worked down unfortunately. I started with the Proving ground which is a double IPA and it was amazing, definitely ranks up there in my favorite beers. It was not quite as heavy as a traditional double IPA and it was very refreshing as well as full of flavor. Next I had the Prescription which is a pale ale. Pale ales are usually not my favorite but I really enjoyed it. I would definitely enjoy a pint of it on a warm summer day. The other two beers I had were almost not worth mentioning. The Squab Boy IPA was mediocre at best. It is an extremely weak IPA and I would only recommend it to someone that does not like IPA’s but is thinking about getting into them. The last beer was the Saison de Lily and it was awful. It was a very sour beer that was way to carbonated and tasted like bad champagne. Although I had a few disappointing beers the Proving ground and the Prescription are more than worth a trip out there. As is the funky atmosphere that goes along with running a pub that is located on Haight st.

Overall I enjoyed Magnolia pub. The wait staff was enjoyable and the atmosphere was fun and relaxing. If you are in the area I would definitely recommend stopping by and grabbing a pint of Proving ground I know I will. However there are a lot better brew pubs in the area so I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to go there.

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Russian River

I have been going to Russian River Brewing Comp. since before I was even allowed to drink and there is a reason for that. The first time I ever went there I went with some friends that were 21. The reason we went here instead of a normal bar is because I wasnt and even if they carded me for tying to buy a beer the place is open for anyone so they would not kick me out. I was instently hooked on this place and have continued to go back since. Like Ale Works this brewery is located in Santa Rosa but if your in the area it’s a must visit. It’s also a local favorite so it is busy most of the time and slammed from 6pm on, even more on Friday and Saturday.

I went there on a Saturday evening but knowing how busy it gets I reserved a table. Russian River has one of my all time favorite beers Pliney the Elder so that is what I usually get. This time however I decided to get the sampler which comes with up to 20 4oz tasters depending on availability. I wouldn’t recommend getting it unless you are a huge fan of beers and Belgium beers imparticular. Russian river makes a lot of different beers and half of them are made in a Belgium style which tend to be on the sour side, and Russian river is a perfect example of a sour Belgium. One of their beers Supplication I would compare to orange juice. However all of their American style beers which consist of Ales, Stouts and, IPA’s are fantastic. Like I said my favorite beer they serve is Pliny the Elder. Pliny the Elder is a double IPA which normally would be very strong and it is as far as percentage of alchohl but it is very much on the light side. I would compare drinking a Pliny to drinking a heavy Stella. A few of their other good beers are the Blind Pie, OVL stout, and Damnation which is also a stout.

What sets Russian River apart from the other brewpubs that are around is their food. Russian River serves Italian food so only a few sandwiches but mainly pizza. Although their pizza is amazing it’s a little on the pricy side so I do not tend to get it very often. What is the selling point is their bites. They bites are little pieces of pizza dough with cheese and a topping usually jalapenos, pepperoni, or pepperoncini. They only cost around seven dollars and can easily be split between two people. Keep in mind if you do get the jalapeno bites be prepared to buy a couple of pints because they have some heat. The one bad thing I have to say about Russian River is their service sucks. If you are going for just a beer the bar is usually packed and if you want food be prepared to wait. This isnt a bad thing in my opinion because Russian River is not a place to go on your lunch break, it is a place to go with friends hang out and relax. I would not recommend going their for an hour grab some friends and go spend a couple of hours there. The good food and drinks will more than keep you busy but usually they have a live band to add to the experience.


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Ale Works

This week I had planned on going to the Lagunitas brewery to check out the tour that they offer, however with the crappy weather I decided not to go. Instead I decided to go over to the Russian River brewery which is one of my favorite breweries. Unfortunately the wait for a table was over an hour so on my friends recommendation we decided to go to Ale Works; a brew pub that I did not even know existed. The pub is located in Santa Rosa, Ca so it is a bit of a drive but they sell most of their beers at smaller stores such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Ale Works is among the largest brew pubs that I have been to and rightfully so, the place was packed yet we still managed to get a table with only a short wait. Ale Works consist of a large downstairs filled with tables but not overly cluttered as well as a second story that has two pool tables. There are quite a few televisions both upstairs and downstairs so watching the NBA all star game was not a problem plus with great food and even better beer I would imagine that Ale Works would be a good place to hang out and watch the football games on Sunday. The service was not the best I have ever had but it wasn’t bad either. We had to wait a little long for our food but not to the point of irritation, I think that a lot of it was due to how busy the place was. We didn’t bother ordering our beers with the waitresses and just took turns buying pitchers from the bar and the bar tenders were very good, working a crowded bar quickly while still providing any recommendations or answering questions about the beer. Like most of the brew pubs they only serve beer and no hard alcohol. One of the coolest things about this bar is their tap system, their five main beers are hooked directly into their holding tanks instead of transferring them into kegs that need to be changed all the time.  Other than the 5 main beers they always have on tap they make quite a few seasonal brews so they usually have anywhere from 8 to 12 choices any day of the week.

When I was there they had 11 beers on tap mainly stouts, Ales, and IPA’s. For anyone wanting a light beer or just not into the heavy beers I would recommend any of the Ale’s. All of their Ale’s were really good except for the Gold Slandered which tasted a lot like Budweiser. The nice thing about this place is the range in beers they have. They range anywhere from a 4.3 percent beer that taste like Budweiser to a 9.1 percent double IPA that is almost a little too strong for me aswell as everything in the middle. With their range of beers coupled with their delicious food and atmosphere I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a place to hang out with their friends regardless if you are a beer connoisseur.  I did not get to try all of the beers this time but I do plan on going back to continue rating all of them but regardless of that I will be going back just to enjoy everything that Ale Works has to offer.

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Pacific Coast Brewery

Over the weekend I went and visited Pacific Coast Brew house. Pacific Coast is located at 906 Washington St. Oakland, CA. I was lucky with parking, finding a spot right in front of the brewery, however it looked like parking could be a little difficult if the place was busier. When I walked in I had to wait to be seated which is something that generally doesn’t happen. It made me feel like this pub house was trying to be both a family restaurant and a pub. In fact there was a little girl having her birthday party in one of the other rooms. Unfortunately the bar was full so I had to sit at a table near the bar. The main room was decorated in typical bar style, dark wood trim and various beer signs hanging all over the place. The first thing I do when I visit a new brewery is to see what beers they offer on tap. The beers that are offered in bottles are generally the same no matter where you go, domestic beers for people who want a cheaper beers they know like Budwiser and Coors. On tap they had the five house beers that they were offering this month as well as some other local breweries like Lagunitas, Bear Republic and Anchor Steam. They also had some imports on tap, nothing out of the ordinary Guinness, Stella Artois, and Bass Ale. Since I had only had Pacific Coast a few times before I decided to get the sampler platter which comes with 6oz glass of the five beers they were offering this month. They were offering a Stout, two ales, and two IPA’s.

When the waitress arrived with the platter she laid down a placemat that had a spot for every beer they make. Then she placed each glass on the logo of the beer so you can keep track of what your drinking. Although I wasn’t able to sit at the bar and talk to the bar tender the waitress had a good knowledge of the beers they were serving and could recommend other beers based on my taste. All five of the beers were good although for the most part they were on the heavier side.  The five beers Pacific Coast is serving this month are Grey Whale Ale, Blue Whale Ale, Killer Whale Stout, Columbus IPA and a seasonal Cast IPA. IPA’s tend to be my favorite type of beers however I found myself gravitating towards the two Ale’s. The weather was fantastic (70 degrees and sunny) which always affects the type of beer I choose to drink, Ale’s being a little lighter are typically better for warm days. My friend and I disputed on the best of the five me thinking the Columbus IPA and him going with the Stout. The Stout did surprised me the most because Stout’s can be made very badly if the brewer makes it overly bitter. After the sampler platter I ordered two more pints one of each of the two ale’s. On second tasting of the two ale’s I wish I had ordered the Columbus IPA over the Grey Whale Ale due to its weak flavor that I had not noticed with the 6 oz glass.

Overall I fount Pacific Coast Brewery to be a pleasant experience. According to the waitress they were not serving their most popular beer due to lack of supply  so I look forward to tasting that. As for their other beers I was not overly impressed with any of them but they were all good with the possible exception of the Grey Whale and I would recommend any of them to my friends. Although their beer is not the best I have ever had the food was good and the service was fantastic. Everyone that I talked to both customers and employees were extremely nice and the energy of the place was cool and relaxing. I will definitely be going back there soon and would recommend that anyone give it a try.

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First Beer

Do You guys remember that failed attempt at making a football league that aired on the off season of the NFL? You don’t, that’s no surprise. In 2001 the XFL had it’s one and only season. The only reason that I remember that the XFL even existed is that I had my first beer in the parking lot of candlestick. I do not know how my brother got the tickets or why, but he did and for some reason he decided to take his 14 year old brother. Sitting on the tailgate of my brothers truck waiting for the game to start my brother opened up an ice chest and handed me a Coors light. I turned it down at first but wanting to be cool in front of my brother I soon collapsed to his persuasion. I’ll tell you what, it tasted like piss and not just because it was a Coors light. Despite the fact that it tasted as bad as it did and made my stomach hurt I suffered through it trying not to reveal that this was my first beer. Before I finished the beer I could already feel the effects of it. When I was done my brother handed me another and I took it not looking forward to having to drink a second one. I finished it of course and to my surprise it went down much easier than the first one. I finished my second beer as we were walking up to the gates looking forward to my first “football” game.

Unlike the NFL people were allowed to bring in coolers as long as there was no glass in it. With the embrace of alcohol taking hold for the first time in my life I couldn’t wait to get to my seats, look out onto the field and have another beer. I could not tell you a single thing that happened on the field mainly because the field was filled up with a bunch of people that couldn’t make it into the NFL. Although something exciting did happen during the game. This was not only the first day that I felt the affects of beer but it was also the first day I saw what can happen if you drink too much. A few minutes into the third quarter a very large man who was sitting in the seats right in front of my brother and I apparently had one beer to many. With liquid courage on his side he decided to rip his shirt off run down the stairs hop the fence and begin dancing with the cheerleaders. The cheer leaders didn’t seem to mind so much but that was not the case with the security guards. They ran after him and as soon as he saw them bolted onto the field. Being as drunk as he was he was not hard to catch and was soon tackled to the ground and escorted out of the cheering stadium. The rest of the game went by without incident and with a six pack of beer under my belt I fell asleep as soon as I got home.

I have drunken a lot of beer with a lot of different people over the years and yet that day stays fresh in my mind and will continue to do so. I never would have thought that ten years later I would writing a blog about beer and including this story in it. People remember their first kiss, their first date, and I’m curious how many people remember their first beer. So if you have a good first beer story or even if it’s not that good let us know.

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