Posts ByRobert French, Author at PorchDrinking.com
Wildfires have devastated much of California this year and Humble Sea Brewing Company has responded by calling on brewery friends to help Santa Cruz wildfire victims. The impressive group of breweries has donated bottles to a wildfire relief auction benefiting the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County Fire Relief Fund. The Rare Beer Auction for Santa Cruz went live on Friday and ends at noon on Monday, October 5.
It wasn’t that long ago that the letters IPA basically meant one thing. For better or worse, IPA was known as a hop-forward and bitter beer. With International IPA Day coming up on the first Thursday in August (this year it’s August 6th), we’ve rounded up a few to create this Ultimate 6er.
A fruited cream ale might not be the first thing you think of when you hear the words “huckleberry” and “beer.”
Bootlegger’s Brewery, based in Fullerton, California, is working to change that. The brewery’s Huckleberry Cream Ale, What the Huck!, made its debut in late January, 2020, and has gained many a fan since. Brewed with Cascade hops, 2-Row barley, flaked corn and, of course, loads of huckleberries, What the Huck! was the brainchild of Bootlegger’s Regional Manager, Kristyn Biggerstaff.
Alvarado Street Brewery has been brewing incredible beers since 2014. Led by a father-son team who opened their first brewpub in downtown Monterey, California, the brewery expanded two years later, building out both its beer garden and another production brewery in Salinas, aka “The Salad Bowl of the World”. In 2015, Alvarado struck gold when their Mai Tai P.A. won a GABF gold medal, a win the brewery repeated in 2018.
Slice Beer Company opened their doors in the fall of 2019. The brewery is led by two guys that are well known in the Northern California beer scene, Zack Frasher and Russ Yeager. Frasher was previously the head brewer for Moonraker Brewery and Russ was the marketing director and beer program manager for Old Town Pizza.
As barrel-aged beers go, Firestone Walker is one of the most consistent producers out there. When it comes to their anniversary beer, it’s hard to pass this one up.
Firestone Walker just released XXIII, the fourteenth beer they’ve released as part of their anniversary series, which dates back to 2006. As with all of the previous anniversary beers, it’s a blend of many of their well crafted barrel-aged offerings.
Chapman Crafted Beer is located in Old Towne in Orange, California. It’s a family-owned brewery that’s, in their own words, “community focused.” This includes brewing beers honoring the local university’s homecoming and the city’s festival.
For many people, the expectation is that breweries must always be innovating to be relevant. While smaller breweries have the luxury of chasing a trend and nimbly playing the field, many larger and established breweries find this a challenging task. Firestone Walker, though one of the larger craft breweries, has continued to find a way to create their own space. Whether it’s through unique beer releases or highly curated events, they always seem to be up for the challenge.
There are not many breweries in the Sacramento, CA area that have a better track record of brewing IPAs than New Glory Craft Brewery. When you check the “about us” section of their website, the first sentence reads: “We reject the mainstream concept of ‘flagship’ or core beers.” A quick look at their current tap list includes 24 beers; 15 of them are either a Pale Ale, IPA, Double IPA or Milkshake IPA. I’m not sure how many different IPAs and hop-forward beers they’ve turned out since 2014, but it’s safe to say they’ve worked every angle of the style.
When you are talking about perfect pairings, there is none better than tequila and beer. Whether you’re doing shots or sipping on a cocktail if you’re drinking tequila, you obviously need a beer chaser. While you might be content grabbing the closest Mexican lager, you could also branch out a bit, and consider a few other options. Maybe you want to complement your tequila, or maybe you want to soothe the burn. Either way, having the right beer by your side is the only way to go.
As you plan for your celebration of National Tequila Day, yes this is a thing, you also need to plan the beer to best fit your celebration. There is a plenitude of options when you’re considering building the ultimate tequila chaser list. The three style options that come to mind are: the cocktail, the sipper and the crusher.
Whether you’re critiquing someone’s beer selection at the local store or researching overall beer sales, you will quickly notice lighter beers lead the pack in sales. The top 10 beers in overall sales are littered with light beers. Beers that are lower in alcohol and calories are not new, but now craft beer is starting to taking notice and looking to capture some of that market share.
So, why can’t hoppy beers be light? Low-calorie beers have been traditionally Lagers and Pilsners. It’s great to see hop forward beers now starting to enter this space. After all, it’s not the hops that are adding calories to your beer. You don’t even want to know how many calories are in that pastry Stout.
How much do you love collaboration beers? This collaboration was brewed and packaged at Urban Roots Brewing, with the Alvarado Street crew coming to Sacramento for the brew day. The name pokes fun at some of the beer names and labels that appear to “borrow” trademarked artwork. While the name of the beer is A Momentary Lapse of Judgement, the label includes a large eagle carrying the C & D letters.
Treehouse Brewing is one of those breweries that you hear more about than you ever see in their beer in the wild. They are one of the most hyped breweries when it comes Hazy IPAs and are on the top of the list for many beer traders.
Do you plan your travel around beer? I do. In fact, I visited 100 breweries last year, and I plan on doing that every year.
In the past, when possible, I’ve always tried to include at least a few local brewery stops while on vacation. Four years ago I made a list of all the breweries I visited that year. Without knowing or even planning, I visited 99 different spots. The following years, I started to track more diligently, with the arbitrary goal of hitting 100 each year–that’s a lot of local beer. To be a little more precise, that’s 8.33 different spots each month, which may sound very do-able until you have a few hectic months and you hit zero new breweries.
On February 2, 1989, Karl Strauss Brewing Company opened their first brewery on Columbia St. in downtown San Diego, CA. Thirty years later, they are still going strong with 10 brewpubs scattered from San Diego to Orange County and two locations in Los Angeles County.
Bootlegger’s Brewery sold their first keg of beer in 2008. It was originally located in Fullerton, California in a small industrial building in an area that was a little rough around the edges. The brewery felt closer to a neighbor’s garage than it did a commercial brewery. Since then, they upsized the brewhouse from a 7 to a 30 barrel system. They moved the main brewing operations to a larger industrial area while staying in Fullerton. They also open their third tasting room location in Costa Mesa to go along with the Fullerton and Redlands locations.
Russian River Brewing Company is an iconic brewery, a brewery that started beer trends, even before we knew what beer trends were. They are also a company that methodically moves at their own speed, with their own vision.
Though there’s no question that Russian River could have expanded earlier, they completed their expansion on their own terms, in my mind further proving their dedication to, and love of, craft beer. The stunning new brewing facility is located in Windsor, CA, just about nine miles from their Santa Rose brewpub. The new location includes a multi-room restaurant and a bar, with both indoor and outdoor bar seating, along with separate tasting and gift shop areas.
Traditional beer festivals are fun and a great place to experience new breweries, but they also can be a bit predictable if familiar breweries choose to just pour core beers that you’ve tried over and over again. If you’ve been to one local beer festival, chances are the next local festival will be much of the same… not bad, but still predictable. Over the last few years, we’ve seen breweries branching out and creating their own, and often uniquely curated beer festivals. Firestone Walker is no rookie when it comes to this. Events like From the Barrel, Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival and most recently Pils and Love all offer something beyond the norm.