Through the Rows and Over the Hills…A Northern Journey…

If you’re a Craft Beer Lover, chances are that you’ve laid awake some nights thinking about, dreaming about or even compiling lists of must visit breweries… And, if you are a true Beer Connoisseur, I’m almost certain that a certain brewery in Santa Rosa, California is on your list.

When you live in California, you are essentially surrounded on all sides by fantastic breweries. But given the sheer size of the state, you are bound to be hundreds of miles away from at least some of the dream spots on your hitlist…

Case in point for me, Russian River Brewing Company, home of Pliny the Elder. While Pliny is not my favorite Double IPA, I do pay homage to its exquisiteness. They’re aren’t many other DIPAs out there that can fool you into thinking you’re drinking an IPA…And for this reason alone, I’ve wanted to visit for quite a few years. While I enjoy their Sour Beers as well, there’s nothing quite like a Hoppy IPA or Pale Ale to float my boat. While my favorite beer of this visit was Happy Hops IPA, I was pleasantly surprised by their 3.75% O.V.L. Stout that packs so much flavor into what is essentially water…

Though RRBC offers the largest flight in the world, I settled on a sensible flight…

So what is it that made me finally pull the trigger on a 500 Mile car ride? Nothing. Nothing other than a desire to move and go somewhere… Given that Russian River occupies the old New Albion Brewery, the space is essentially Mecca for true Craft Beer Lovers. So maybe, she just called to me long enough that I finally gave in…

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I made the trek. There is no better road trip than an unplanned, unregulated, untimed one… when you start with stress free, you end with stress free; and if your final destination is Russian River Brewing Company, your journey is sure to end in a smile.

It’s funny how quickly people you know ask you for your Venmo Handle when they realize where you are, but that’s another beautiful piece of what it means to be a Craft Beer Lover. The Community and Camaraderie that flow from this delicious libation have created some of the happiest moments in my recent memory.

With that thought in mind, a toast, to Vinnie and all the good folks at Russian River, for giving us something to write home about…

If you’re near Santa Rosa, or far and just wishing you could go, do yourself a favor and get down to 4th street…food’s fresh and beer is waiting…

✌🏽❤️🍻

BrewFiend

And, the world is full of energy…

Some of my most favorite brewery detours seem to materialize out of thin air… I wake up with a clean slate and think to myself, how can I make today Awesome?!

As my summer of phun draws to an end, I’ve been digging deep and trying to squeeze every last drop out of my recent salvation from a life I despised. And this morning, was no different. While scrolling through my IG feed post-workout, I double tapped yet another pic featuring Electric Brewing Company’s Ohno Kenzo Hazy DIPA.

To date, my only experience has been with Electric’s Uber Everywhere Hazy IPA, a collaboration with Track 7 Brewing, that was easily one of my favorite beers of 2017…

While Electric has released a slew of highly sought after hazies since then, i’ve struck out every time I’ve tried to acquire cans within the confines of Orange County…

With that thought in mind, this morning I consulted the Oracle at Waze and, after discovering I could be at the tasting room in under an hour, I set out post haste for Murrieta…Where? Trust me, if you’ve never been and love beer, you should just make the trip…If you’ve heard of Temecula, it’s basically, no literally across the street…

Upon arriving at the brewery I was greeted with the most magnificent smell of breakfast cereal…my favorite smell… (these guys are working on a Sunday = Dedication = +). I quickly checked out the To Go Fridge and realized I’d struck out on cans again…but, guess what? These guys offer crowlers of even their newest release!

With a new found enthusiasm I asked the Beertender for Tasters of all their IPAs, of course…When he pulled out the awesomely customized flight holder, I realized I had two more options, so I opted for a Pale Ale and Stout…little did I realize the “beertender” serving me was the Brewer 😱

The first beer of my flight, a Pale Ale was extremely delicious, it gave me high hopes for the rest of the beers…Upon sampling the 5 beers, I calculated Electric’s average beer score as 4.45 (Out of 5).

Always a good sign when a brewery is working on a Sunday…My delicious flight!

 

Conclusion, this is a MUST STOP brewery for any true Craft Beer Lover. Not for Juice Bros. or Pastry Hoes, but beer connoisseurs…

The Devil is in the details…Awesome Flight Boards, ⚡️

 

So glad that once again, I woke up and just decided to go wherever the universe led me. It’s no coincidence that the world is full of energy and the world is electricity and Electric Brewing Co. is killing it…

Hard-work, dedication and humbleness prevails every time!

(I sat near the exit and listened and watched as every patron was thanked by Justin, the Owner/Head Brewer as they left…classy.)

Notes:

If you sit at the bar on a Sunday afternoon, aside from being able to talk with the lovely beertenders Sally & Roxanne, you may get a lap petting Session from Pig the Dachshund…her dad works at the brewery and she’s super friendly if she likes you…

Somehow a 7th Anniversary in the books…

The sun is out this morning, in full force, in the slowly rising city of Anaheim, California.  The Orange County city that gave the world Oranges, No Doubt and today some of the best beer being brewed in America.  While the elements tried Saturday, to test the mettle of Noble Ale Works‘ fans, the Noble Crew and their band of Nobleteers still managed to pull off another successful, delicious and thoroughly entertaining Anniversary Party.  (That certainly left more than a few folks shuddering to think about last night…)  Here are my reflections on the day as a Nobleteer.

Whether you’re a fan of the latest Hazy IPA, Cereal Stout, Spicy Beer, Sour or tried and true West Coaster, Noble brewed up something for everyone.  I had the pleasure of serving the most beautiful beer I’ve ever seen, Orange is the New Black Currant, a Radler that was as delicious as it was beautiful.  And I’m sure it would be all over Instagram if folks weren’t drinking and had ten minutes to type out that hashtag #… (I’ve now done it for you, so if you took pics of that beauty, hashtag away.  If there was a prettiest in show or most likely to be mistaken for an Acai Smoothie Award, this lovely lady has it in the bag, and everywhere else for that matter.)  I also measure beer success by how often the Brewers and Tasting Room Employees come back and yeah…FANTASTIC BEER!

I also served Montemocito (would love to know the meaning behind this beer name Noble folks.) This was a Cherry Lemonade Beer.  Though I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, the folks who like it came back like 15 times, seriously.  I also poured a few Lemon Shandylands and Pomelo Something or other….I learned what a Pomelo looked like yesterday, I kinda knew what it was, but people kept asking so I finally looked it up and then started describing it…beer brings knowledge, knowledge is power…beer is power.

The best part of being a Volunteer Beer Server is getting to meet and talk beer with so many cool and often like minded people.  The one thing we all can agree on is that we love beer and Noble was more than generous in facilitating and offering a plethora of delicious libations.

Huge thanks to Thunderking Brewing for keeping me going with that yummy Cold Brew! Appreciate it!

All in all, it was a fun, exciting and joyous couple of hours.  The Impromptu Dance Party USA that sprung up at 4PM was absolutely awesome and Vito was, well Vito! Such an Awesome Day! Thanks again Noble for the opportunity and thanks to everyone who came out in support of one of America’s Premiere Breweries and local Anaheim, Orange County treasures.  I look forward to continued to success for this Crew and can’t wait to see where this year takes them.

(To anyone I was lucky enough to serve, I truly hope you enjoyed the beer and the day!)

Hope your 2018 has been full of delicious Independent Craft Beer thus far, and if not, get on it!

BrewFiend

 

 

 

My Best of 2017

2017 has come and gone and this year, 23 beers have left a lasting impression on my palate.

One brewery led the way with 6 entries on this most prestigious list, and that brewery was Orange, California’s Green Cheek Brewery. Evan and company burst on to the scene in 2017 and actually earned 7 entries on the best of list, one entry was in collaboration with El Segundo Brewing Company

Beginner's Luck
Beginner’s Luck ( A West Coast DIPA) brewed in collaboration, this, introduced the world to Green Cheek Beer Co. back in May.

What followed was an all out assault on the craft beer world with such fantastic West Coast Inspired releases as Radiant Beauty IPA, West Coast is Dead IPA and West in Peace DIPA.

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West Coast is not Dead, but is ALIVE and WELL!!!

The assault continued into the realm of Hazy IPAs with Attack With Love and even branched out into the Lager realm with Bier and Evan’s Michelada (A Must Have on any Brewery Visit!).

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Attack With Love was a fantastic foray into the Haze…

When it came to Bourbon Barrel Aged Offerings, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing still reigned supreme; with such offerings as Fundamental Observation

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Fundamental Forces

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Yes, this was a growler full of Fundamental Forces…

and a coffee infused variant FOMO brewed in collaboration with Mostra Coffee.

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The level of Coffee deliciousness in FOMO is indescribable.

Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works kept themselves relevant in light of Evan’s departure, with some wondrous Hazy DIPAs; Starting off the year with 24K Juice

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Probably my absolute favorite beer of 2017, that 24K Juice!

and ending it strong with a DDH version, known as 48K Juice.

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You say Double Dry-Hopped, I say HELL YEAH!

Much like Green Cheek, San Diego’s Pure Brewing Project took the craft beer world by storm this year and cranked out such solid offerings as Murklands, a Hazy Pale Ale and Digital Detox, a Hazy IPA that were both to die for…

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Pure Project quickly became one of my top 5 breweries…

The West Coast IPA saw some righteous treatment from San Diego’s Alpine Brewing with their super dank release of Windows Up. And Beachwood Brewing solidified their role as West Coast Masters with a Double Dry Hopped version of their Melrose IPA.

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God Save Julian Shrago! I love any Beachwood IPA, but DDH? Lord!

Hazy Pale Ales made a strong showing this year with fantastic releases from HenHouse Brewing, their #Stoked Series was off the hook !

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So stoked! to have Craft Beer Friends all over the country, got to try this HenHouse.

and New Jersey’s Magnify Brewing, whose Low Visibility Pale showed just how far down these cats could boogie…

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Magnify continues to show me that I love more about NJ than just Bon Jovi…

Stouts were alive and well the country over this year; as evidenced by such strong releases as North Carolina’s Burial Brewing Co.’s Skillet Donut Stout

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Skillet Donut…DAMN!

Utah’s Epic Brewing’s fabled Big Bad Baptista Mexican Inspired BA Imperial Stout

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El BBA Mas Fina! Big, Bad Baptista!

Denver, Colorado’s consistently epic Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Oatmeal Stout from the masters at Great Divide Brewing Company,

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I’ve always believed that Great Minds Drink Alike…

and Costa Mesa, California’s The Patsy courtesy of Barley Forge Brewing Co. brewed in collaboration with Thunder King Coffee.

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Such an awesome brewery to just hang at. Throw in some Coffee Infused Stout and I’m in heaven…Thanks Barley Forge!

This year, 2 sours/ American Wild Ales even made the list with Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks and their barrel wizard Sour Jim introducing us to Krieky Bones and the Bay Area’s The Rare Barrel who wowed me with Ensorcelled…

While 2017 was loaded full of delicious Craft Beers, these 24 were the standouts and should be on any self respecting craft beer lovers radar. I would never say these are the “best” as taste is relative, but if you are looking for a gateway to great beer, look no further.

I hope your 2018 is full of Fantastic , Independent Craft Beer!

Drink Good Beer, Craft Beer.

All Photos By: BrewFiend

2016: Excellent Brews in the rearview…

2016 was definitely a year for the history books. It was a year of mergers, infiltration by “big beer” and the blowing up of the “Hazy” or as I like to call it “Yeasty” IPA. Trust me when I tell you that I drank my fair share of beers this year…

What follows are the 20 32 beers that received a, 5 out of 5 ranking on my Untappd account (Brew_Fiend).

These beers are listed in the order they were tried and while I can’t guarantee that you would give these beers a 5, I can guarantee that all of them are absolutely fantastic and should at the very least be on your radar.

The 5s


January 2016
Beer: Agrestic (2015)
Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
“…what a metamorphosis…to think that this started out as DBA is Mind-Blowing…”


Beer: Big Bad Baptist (2016)
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.1%
Brewery: Epic Brewing Co.
“…I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way …”

This was the first time I’ve had this since Untappd and failed to take a pic…

Beer: Xocoveza Extra Anejo (2016)
Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…Fantastico! …”


Sadly, Stone bought in to a corporate mindset at the end of 2016 and worked their way onto my “Do Not Buy” list…

Beer: Double Actuator
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
“…My DIPA! …”


Beer: The Patsy
Style: Coconut Rye Stout
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Barley Forge Brewing Co.
“…The 1st Beer I bought a shirt for…”

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February 2016
Beer: Darkstar November (2014)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial  Stout
ABV: 13.7%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…Aged to Perfection…”


Beer: Bean Bump
Style: Imperial Golden Coffee Milk Stout
ABV: 12.7%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works
“…Liquid Sex!…”


Beer: Xocoveza
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 8.1%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…Abuelita’s Chocolate…”


March 2016
Beer: Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (12th Anniversary Beer)
Style: Imperial Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 9.2%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…Chocolate + Oatmeal = Fantastic!…”


Beer: Ocularity
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
“…My DIPAs Sister! …”


April 2016
Beer: Pliny the Elder
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Russian River Brewing Co.
“…”


May 2016
Beer: Leche Borracho (2016)
Style: Tequila Barrel Aged Milk Stout
ABV: 11%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…Dame mi Leche!!…”


Beer: Double Dry-Hopped Double Actuator
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…OMFG! My Favorite beer made better…”


Beer: Sip of Sunshine
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Lawson’s Finest Liquids
“…”


June 2016
Beer: RuinTen
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 10.8%
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
“…a stage dive into a mosh pit of Hops…”


July 2016
Beer: Fundamental Forces
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 16%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…Lookout BBA fans, they’ve called in reinforcements…”


Beer: Fundamental Observation (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 14.1%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…The pinnacle…”


Beer: Coffee Porter
Style: Porter
ABV: 6%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing
“…Coffee Beer at it’s Finest..”


August 2016
Beer: Hello, LA
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Brewery: Highland Park Brewery
“…this may be the “perfect” IPA…”


Beer: Attack Frequency
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Modern Times Beer
“…Modern Times set their phasers to Phenomenal…”


September 2016
Beer: Space Diamonds
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Brewery: Other Half Brewing Co.
“…Resinous goodness from Outer Space…”

Beer: Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout (2016)
Style: Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 12%
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.
“…Imperial in every way…”


October 2016
Beer: Passionate Dragon (2015)
Style: Wine Barrel Aged Saison
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…uniquely delicious…”


November 2016
Beer: Duet
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Alpine Beer Company
“…resoundingly delicious…”


December 2016
Beer: Red Eye November (2016)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 13.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…the pinnacle and then some…”


Beer: Mocha Machine
Style: Imperial Coffee Porter
ABV: 9.2%
Brewery: Beachwood Brewing Co.
“…flawless..”

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Beer: Strangematter (2015)
Style: Wine Barrel Aged Saison
ABV: 10.5%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…strange how time aged this to perfection…”


Beer: Last Snow (2016)
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.5%
Brewery: Funky Buddha Brewery
“…Phenomenal…”

Victim of a Bottle Share…No Evidence Exists…

Beer: The Butcher
Style: Stygian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.8%
Brewery: Societe Brewing Co.
“…murder by Stout…”

Beer: Milk Stout Nitro
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 6%
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Co.
“…the Progenitor…”

(Sadly, no pic exists)

Beer: Boysenberry-Berlinear Equation
Style: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 5.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co.
“…I hate this style of beer, but…”

(Another that vanished so quickly, I could not snap a pic…That, and I shared it with my “non-drinking” Korean in-laws: Geon Bae!)

Beer: The Nothing
Style: Imperial Chocolate Stout
ABV: 9.7%
Brewery: Smog City Brewing
“…Something…”

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The Almost Perfects…
There were also several beers this year that were oh, so close to perfection…maybe they weren’t fresh enough or the lines weren’t properly cleaned or my taste buds were just having an off day…

Either way, these brews/breweries should also be on your radar in 2017.

Honorable Mentions go to the following excellent brews…All brews received a 4.75 out of 5 ranking on Untappd.

January 2016
Beer: Recursion 7.0
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.3%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

February 2016
Beer: Mirror Mirror (2014)
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11%
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery

Beer: Darkstar November (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout 
ABV: 13.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

Beer: Red Eye November (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.2%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

March 2016
Beer: Zombie Dust
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
Brewery: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Beer: Citra
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Kern River Brewing Co.

July 2016
Beer: Black Angel Cherry Sour
Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing

August 2016
Beer: Elevation Change
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co. (Collaboration with Mammoth Brewing Co.)

Beer: Gravity Check
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 5%
Brewery: Kern River Brewing Co.

September 2016
Beer: Parabajava (2015)
Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
ABV: 14%
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Beer: Dankstar
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery: Civil Society Brewing Co.

October 2016
Beer: Dank Dank Pow Pow
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Citra Showers
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.8%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

Beer: Picture If You Wil… (2015)
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 11.8%
Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing

November 2016
Beer: Nelson, She Wrote
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 12.3%
Brewery: Noble Ale Works

December 2016
Beer: The Abyss (2015)
Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.2%
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery


So, there you have it folks! 31 48 Beers from 2016 that made this Brew Fiend say DAYYUM!

It should be noted that I rate every beer against the beer style it is representing.

Hope your year was filled with AMAZING Craft Beer. Thank you to all the brewers, shops and friends that helped make this list possible.

Prost! to more Beer in 2017!
Peace, Love, Beer

All pics by: BrewFiend