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Credit: Bryan Carey

Greetings fans and followers! This is the fifth in a multi- part series of reviews highlighting the breweries I visited during the Great Beer Now Roses, Rivers, and Peanuts Beer Tour 2018. My visit focused on Santa Rosa, California and surrounding areas, which happen to rank among the best locations in the United States for craft beer. Sit back, open a bottle or can of your favorite craft beer, and follow me along on my journey. Cheers!

 

Breweries are often outspoken proponents of environmental protection. Beer, of course, relies on water, grains, etc. and is thus very much tied to the Earth and its bounty so having strong opinions about the planet and sustainability are important. There is one brewery that not only recognizes the importance of earthly health, it also named itself for the tools that help harvest the foods and make agriculture possible. The establishment is Plow Brewing, located at 3334 Industrial Drive, in Santa Rosa, California.

From the Earth

Plow Brewing is a small establishment. Founded in 2015, the operation is one of the more modest in the Santa Rosa area and it features a small but cozy taproom and knowledgeable staff.

The décor of Plow Brewing emphasizes the tools of the earth. On the walls, one will find various hand tools common to farms, including a creative spelling of the word “P-L-O-W” on one of the walls, using some of these manual tools or parts thereof. There is a farm/industrial look to Plow Brewing and it places guests in a down- to- earth state of mind.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Cultivate and Share

Plow Brewing can be counted on for about 6 to 10 beers on tap at any given time. Here is a summary of the beers I tried when I visited Plow Brewing, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:

  • Muggins, American IPA, 4.25
  • Newfangled, Double IPA, 4
  • Ox, Imperial IPA, 4
  • Scythe, Imperial Porter, 4.25
  • Sonoma Coast, Pilsner, 3.75
  • Steel Share IPA, American IPA, 4

Overall Average Rating: 4.04

Plow Brewing emphasizes IPA styles, which accounted for four of the six beers I sampled. Each was interesting in its own way with Muggins IPA ranking as the IPA standout. I also really liked Scythe Imperial Porter, a beer that features roasty coffee notes and doesn’t seem as strong as its 10 percent alcohol by volume would lead you to believe.

Credit: Bryan Carey

No Axe to Grind

Plow Brewing is one of Santa Rosa’s newer brewing operations. It was opened in the spring of 2015 and has been serving the residents and tourists of Santa Rosa ever since with its finely crafted ales and lagers and customer- focused friendliness.

This brewery makes for a cool pit stop for beer and conversation and I spent a good deal of time during my visit chatting with owner/founder/brewer Kevin Robinson. Among his many accomplishments, Robinson has had stints with Lagunitas, Speakeasy, and Russian River Brewing. He’s also quite the handyman, having constructed much of the brewhouse himself. I walked through the brewhouse to start my visit and soaked up many fun facts about Plow Brewing and its earthly inspirations.

Back in the taproom, I sampled a flight of beers and the thing that struck me before I took my first sip was the serving vessels. Rather than use the usual four or five ounce mini glasses, Plow Brewing decided to have some fun and instead serves the beer in mini beakers, reminiscent of your high school science class. This is not only unique among breweries, but it also has practical advantages. By using a beaker, guests can clearly see how much beer they have in their individual serving and can more easily pace themselves as the move from one beer to the next.

I already pointed out the emphasis on the IPA style here at Plow Brewing. IPA is, of course, the best- selling craft beer style so it isn’t too surprising that Plow would have so many IPA on tap. But the shocker is that none of these IPA is the brewery’s top seller. That distinction belongs to Sonoma Coast Pilsner, a fact that I find quite refreshing. IPA normally dominate in any brewery, but the pilsner is king of the farm at Plow Brewing.

Plow Brewing has a special occasion beer line called Divine Brew and it offers cans of beer to go. The place is very chill, as it is small and cozy and often quieter than other breweries. Talking to Kevin, he pointed out that the one thing he wishes was different is the size of the taproom. I can see how it would certainly benefit to have a larger space, as the taproom here is only designed for about 20 to 25 people tops. But as I said, it is still cozy, friendly, and a good incubator for conversation.

Brewery personnel agree that taking care of our planet is important for countless reasons. We rely on the earth to grow the grains and supply clean water for brewing beer and the challenges of earthly stewardship are only going to increase as time marches forward. Plow Brewing is all about the earth and the tools famers use to till the soil and harvest the crops so critical to life as we know it. Pay a visit to Plow Brewing the next time you’re in Santa Rosa. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.

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Credit: Bryan Carey

Greetings fans and followers! This is the fourth in a multi- part series of reviews highlighting the breweries I visited during the Great Beer Now Roses, Rivers, and Peanuts Beer Tour 2018. My visit focused on Santa Rosa, California and surrounding areas, which happen to rank among the best locations in the United States for craft beer. Sit back, open a bottle or can of your favorite craft beer, and follow me along on my journey. Cheers!

America’s craft beer scene just keeps on moving forward. Yes, the growth may not be quite as rapid as it was a few years ago, but there is still plenty of momentum in craft beer and it seems to still be pressing forward at a mile a minute. One newer brewery in Santa Rosa is a testament to this continuous growth; a brewery still young but one that is ready to face the future with a bold plan for growth that will take them as far and fast as its two wheels will carry it. That brewery is 2 Tread Brewing, located at 1018 Santa Rosa Plaza in downtown Santa Rosa, California.

Cadence on the Increase

2 Tread Brewing is located in the Santa Rosa Plaza Mall in downtown. Featuring an outdoor beer garden and contemporary indoor décor, 2 Tread Brewing is in a prime location and a perfect stopover for those who work downtown seeking a quick and tasty lunch and those who are visiting downtown for shopping or entertainment.

2 Tread Brewing utilizes a 15 barrel brewing system with a large, central bar with surround seating. The brewery serves American pub style food such as burgers, appetizers/bites, sandwiches, salads, and pizza. There is even a separate kids menu and the beverages go far beyond beer. With a large selection of wine and mixed drinks, everyone should be able to find something to suit their liking.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Crank it Up

Here is a summary of the beers I tried when I visited 2 Tread Brewing, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:

  • Experimental IPA2, American IPA, 3.75
  • Hoppy Pale Ale HPA1, American Pale Ale, 4
  • Hoppy Pale Ale HPA2, American IPA, 4

Overall Average Rating: 3.92

2 Tread Brewing is a newer operation and, at the moment, they are still in the midst of experimentation with their beers. This is why there were only three beers on tap when I visited. I liked them all and encourage everyone to try them if they get the chance, but things will likely be very different in the future after they ramp up production and expand the lineup to include more styles.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Shifting Gears

2 Tread Brewing is a new player in the Santa Rosa craft beer scene. Founded by Bill Drury and Christian August, 2 Tread opened its doors in September, 2017 and thus has had only a handful of months to brew beer, formulate a menu, gage customer satisfaction, and otherwise check the chains and oil as necessary to keep the machine running efficiently and smoothly.

I spent a good deal of time talking to the two founders when I visited 2 Tread Brewing. Bill, I learned, once worked for the pharmaceutical industry but had a burning desire to do something more enjoyable. His partner in business, Christian August, is the head brewer and boasts impressive credentials. He was once the head brewer at Firestone Walker and he has studied in the prestigious brewing science program at UC- Davis. Every business wants someone with solid education and work experience and it would be difficult to imagine anyone having a more impressive brewing resume than Chris.

Besides the two owners/founders, what I like best about 2 Tread Brewing is the location and design/layout. When I first heard about this brewery and its name, I expected to walk through the door and be greeted by an over- the- top bicycle emphasis, with wheels, tires, seats, and everything else bicycle related adorning the walls and ceiling. Thankfully, it isn’t that way at all. Other than one single bicycle on the wall, the interior maintains a contemporary, clean look with only a scattering of art pictures and televisions. The dual indoor and outdoor dining/drinking space is certainly a plus and there is a bike rack outside to park your human- powered vehicle. Given the location and theme, 2 Tread Brewing encourages cyclists to pedal their way downtown when they visit so it makes sense that a large bike rack would be part of the package.

Santa Rosa has a strong craft beer scene but in spite of what may seem like a saturated market, there is still room for newcomers. 2 Tread Brewing is one of the new kids on the block; the young kid who shows up with a flashy 18 speed racer and a hard- driving and dependable crank ready to set the wheels into motion. It will take time before 2 Tread Brewing finds its groove but given the passion and expertise of the owners, it shouldn’t be long before 2 Tread Brewing hits the derailleur, moves from the 40- tooth chainwheel to the 52, and starts cranking out some of the best brew in the city. Pay a visit to 2 Tread Brewing the next time you’re in Santa Rosa. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.

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Credit: Bryan Carey

Greetings fans and followers! This is the third in a multi- part series of reviews highlighting the breweries I visited during the Great Beer Now Roses, Rivers, and Peanuts Beer Tour 2018. My visit focused on Santa Rosa, California and surrounding areas, which happen to rank among the best locations in the United States for craft beer. Sit back, open a bottle or can of your favorite craft beer, and follow me along on my journey. Cheers!

Coming up with a name for a brewery and its beers is growing ever- challenging. With so many thousands of operational breweries and brewpubs in the United States, is has become increasingly difficult to come up with a unique name and theme. But what if your brewery was founded quite some time ago and happens to be located on one of the main streets in the downtown section of your city? In these instances, a good name might simply be the road on which your brewery is located. Not fretting over the name and focusing instead on what matters most are the hallmarks of Third Street Aleworks, located at 610 Third Street in Santa Rosa, California.

Welcome to Downtown

Third Street Aleworks has been around since 1995, making it one of the more mature brewing and dining establishments in Santa Rosa. Utilizing a 14 barrel system, this brewpub is able to churn out approximately 1,500 barrels of beer annually and has won multiple awards for its different beers.

Third Street Aleworks is equally popular as a downtown restaurant and the menu consists of American pub- style grub. Burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and a handful of entrees and appetizers comprise almost the entire menu, but there are a few desserts as well and, since Santa Rosa is deep in the heart of wine country, they offer several wines. The atmosphere is laid back and non- pretentious. With signage, pictures, and various props, there is much to distract on the walls and behind the bar at Third Street Aleworks. And while it can get busy, they have an upstairs and outdoor seating to handle overflow crowds.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Bring me a Flight, Please

At Third Street Aleworks, patrons will find about 12 to 18 beers available at any given time with a large flight sampler available containing about 15 (!) options. Here is a summary of the beers I tried when I visited, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:

  • Annadel English Pale with Earl Grey, English Pale Ale, 4.25
  • Annadel Pale Ale, English Pale Ale, 4.25
  • Blarney Sisters, Dry Irish Stout, 4
  • Bodega Head IPA, American IPA, 4
  • Bombay Rouge, Double IPA, 4.5
  • Blarney Sisters, Dry Irish Stout, 4
  • Cossack, Imperial Stout, 4
  • Dortmund Export, Lager, 4
  • Double Standard, Double IPA, 4.5
  • Golden Sour Saison with Mango, Sour Ale,4
  • Helles Lager, Lager, 4
  • Something Light, Blonde Ale, 3.75

Overall Average Rating: 4.10

The well- crafted beer at Third Street Aleworks is reason enough to visit. I was impressed by most everything I tasted, with the Bombay Rouge Double IPA ranking as my favorite. Much to my pleasant surprise, even the lightest beer on tap, Something Light Blonde Ale, was still quite good and easily better than other light brews.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Keeping it Simple

Third Street Aleworks is a cool brewpub in downtown Santa Rosa and the perfect place for a quick meal and delicious beer. I visited here for lunch and beer while touring Santa Rosa by brewery and I was impressed by what I saw and tasted.

This brewpub has been around for more than 22 years and with that level of experience, expectations are generally high. A newer brewery can get away with the occasional gaffe and most customers will be willing to forgive, attributing the oversight to the common problems associated with business growing pains. But when you’ve been around for two decades, well, the standards are bound to toughen. By this time, customers expect the loose ends to be tightened and the quality to be heightened. There is no longer room for error, and standards must be met or exceeded.

Fortunately, Third Street Aleworks has, indeed, met and exceeded customers standards for quality and this is evident on various levels. I was in a chicken type of mood when I visited so I ordered the Bird on Third sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. The sandwich is comprised of chicken breast, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, jack cheese, and onion. It was fresh and tasty and made for the perfect midday meal. The atmosphere was cool as well and I like that they have so many different seating options.

But even more impressive to me was the beer. I took a quick tour of the brewhouse with one of the personnel and learned more about the production side of things before settling down to sample the brew. I discovered several standouts in the bunch and a quick glance around the main dining area revealed a banner showing all of the awards Third Street Aleworks has won at the Great American Beer Festival. A total of 13 GABF medals have been awarded to Third Street Aleworks over the years, with 5 Gold Medals and 8 Bronze Medals in the trophy case. I found it interesting that Third Street Aleworks hasn’t won any Silver Medals at all, but has 13 combined Gold and Bronze Medals. I suppose it shows that Third Street Aleworks isn’t the type of place to fall into the “runner up” category very frequently. Sampling the beers first hand, I was able to taste why Third Street Aleworks has been decorated with so much professional praise and recognition. It made perfect sense to me.

My lunch was just about the right size for a midday meal, but I’ve noticed that many of the other foods served at Third Street Aleworks are more generous in proportion. The same is true with the flight samplers. With spaces for 15 samples of beer, the flight sampler served here is the largest I have ever experienced, and I have visited a LOT of breweries and brewpubs. Not surprisingly, I found that if I search for shared pictures of Third Street Aleworks online, I see more pictures of this massive flight than anything else. It’s not every day that you see a flight of beer 15 samples strong and it is certainly something that remains etched in your memory.

Breweries and brewpubs are growing in number. Third Street Aleworks enjoys greater longevity than the majority of brewing operations and its expertise shows in every sip of beer and in each bite of food. It’s right here on Third Street in downtown Santa Rosa and the simplicity of the name makes it easy to remember. Pay a visit to Third Street Aleworks the next time you’re in the great city of Santa Rosa. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.

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Credit: Bryan Carey

Greetings fans and followers! This is the first in a multi- part series of reviews highlighting the breweries I visited during the Great Beer Now Roses, Rivers, and Peanuts Beer Tour 2018. My visit focused on Santa Rosa, California and surrounding areas, which happens to be one of the best locations in the United States for craft beer. Sit back, open a bottle or can of your favorite craft beer, and follow me along on my journey. Cheers!

California is a land of geographical wonder. The state is home to the highest mountain peak in the contiguous United States, the tallest waterfall in North America, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest and tallest trees in the world. Among these record- holding natural attractions, the sequoia and redwood trees are arguably the most fascinating and the city of Santa Rosa, California is home to a brewery that is dedicated to these trees and the Northern California region in general. The brewery is Fogbelt Brewing, located at 1305 Cleveland Ave., in Santa Rosa, California.

California Attractions

Fogbelt Brewing was named after the fog that commonly fills the valley, from northern California and into southern Oregon. Anyone who frequents this area is fully aware of the consistent fog that blankets the area. It might seem as a nuisance to some, but it fulfills many important roles, among them providing natural cooling to the area and water/moisture to the giant coastal redwoods.

Fogbelt Brewing keeps the spirit of the natural environment alive and maintains an active taproom with about 10 beers on tap. They have a small outdoor seating section and indoor seating. They serve food, too. The menu is limited but more than sufficient, with burgers, appetizers, and assorted sandwiches. They even have an all- day brunch menu available on Sundays.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Redwood Brew

In keeping with its Northern California nature theme, Fogbelt Brewing names all of its beers after a prominent redwood tree. There are about 10 to 12 beers on tap at any given time, with other Fogbelt beers also available in cans or bottles. Here is a summary of the beers I tried when I visited, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:

  • Atlas Blonde, Blonde Ale, 3.75
  • Del Norte IPA, American IPA, 3.75
  • Federation Giant, Imperial Stout, 4.25
  • Godwood, Triple IPA, 5
  • Hyperion Red Ale, American Amber, 4
  • Icarus Imperial Blonde, Blonde Ale, 4
  • Prometheus, Farmhouse Ale, 4
  • Qudraspire, Belgian Quad, 4.25
  • Randy Stoltmann Double IPA, Imperial IPA, 4.25
  • Screaming Giant Double IPA, Imperial IPA, 4.5

Overall Average Rating: 4.18

I discovered many standout beers among my samples. The Federation Giant Imperial Stout is a taste to behold, as is the Screaming Giant Double IPA. But I was most impressed by the Godwood Triple IPA, a beer as big, bold, and memorable as the redwood tree for which it was named.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Keep it Local

Fogbelt Brewing is a cool brewery with a penchant for local attractions and local commerce. The brewery was founded in 2014 and prides itself not just for bringing positive attention to California’s redwood trees, but also for supporting local business. Fogbelt sources locally whenever possible and was founded by two guys who grew up in Sonoma County and have strong ties to the area.

I spent some time talking with the founders, Paul Hawley and Remy Martin, during my visit and from them I learned about Fogbelt’s past, present, and future. Both guys have been brewing beer for quite some time and both have experience in the wine industry. Paul, in fact, is from a family that operates a successful winery and this experience in the adult beverage industry has undoubtedly been valuable as these two friends strive to brew excellent beer and run a successful operation in Santa Rosa.

Fogbelt Brewing started off four years ago using a 7 barrel brewing system. At present, I learned that they are in the process of upgrading to a 15 barrel system. This shows that the brewery is obviously doing something right and the steady growth proves that while they have been growing, they haven’t done so to the detriment of the beer’s quality. I have visited some breweries that grew far too quickly and had a difficult time maintaining quality standards. Growth is always a welcome event in any business, but the negative fallout from excessive growth can be particularly painful with a brewery and has even led to the downfall of some. Fogbelt Brewing seems to have a solid grip on this aspect of the brewing business.

I was impressed with many of the beers at Fogbelt. I love dark beers and wish more breweries brewed them, but they are often in short supply. Fogbelt had a dark beauty just waiting for me to try: Federation Giant, a delicious Imperial Stout. But the beer that really caught my fancy is Godwood Triple IPA. Resinous, clean, fruity, and slightly sweet, this beer is available only during limited times of the year but is one you don’t want to miss.

Community involvement, local sourcing, and a sense of local pride are what set the craft beer industry apart. Fogbelt Brewing is all about keeping things local and its penchant for quality beer and natural wonders make it a standout in the Santa Rosa craft beer scene. Pay a visit to Fogbelt Brewing the next time you’re in Santa Rosa. And tell them Great Beer Now Sent You.

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Credit: Bryan Carey

Greetings fans and followers! This is the first in a multi- part series of reviews highlighting the breweries I visited during the Great Beer Now Roses, Rivers, and Peanuts Beer Tour 2018. My visit focused on Santa Rosa, California and surrounding areas, which happens to be one of the best locations in the United States for craft beer. Sit back, open a bottle or can of your favorite craft beer, and follow me along on my journey. Cheers!

Northern California is home to a large number of craft breweries, many of which opened within the past few years and are still in their infancy. But there are also some well- established breweries in Northern California and one of the more popular is Bear Republic. Best known for its widely available and highly quaffable Racer IPA, Bear Republic has morphed into a large brewing operation, but just recently they decided to “go small and local” by opening up a new brewpub. It’s Bear Republic Lakeside, located at 5000 Roberts Lake Rd, Rohnert Park, California.

Lakeside Brew and Eating

Bear Republic Lakeside is situated on the banks of Roberts Lake, very close to Highway 101 and just minutes south of Santa Rosa. The entire complex is large in size, with a 15 barrel brewing system, beer garden, outdoor dining, and indoor dining rooms. On the outside, one will find games such as cornhole, foosball, and shuffleboard for self- entertainment. There is an outdoor stage, too, for live bands and other performers.

Bear Republic has a large number of its beers available on tap- about 20 or so total- and a full menu of American style food. They have appetizers, entrees, soups & salads, pizza, and sandwiches. There is also a kids menu, complete with options such as hamburger, pizza, hot dog, macaroni and cheese, and other kid- friendly fare. The Western Burger was my choice for dinner. Topped with onion rings, coleslaw, BBQ sauce, cheese, and bacon, it was prepared just right and an excellent match with the brew.

Credit: Bryan Carey

Let’s Try Some Beer

Okay, what about all of this beer? Well, as I said, they had a very large number of choices but as much as I was tempted to wrap my lips around a glass of Bear Republic favorites like Racer 5 IPA, I decided it would be better to sample beers I had not previously tried. Here is a summary of what I tasted, in alphabetical order, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:

  • Chicane Wit, Witbier, 3.5
  • Grand Am, American Pale Ale, 3.5
  • Initial Attack, Belgian IPA, 3.75
  • Juicy IPA, American IPA, 4
  • Pacu Pale, American Pale Ale, 3.5
  • Racer X, Double IPA, 4.25
  • Roberts Lake Sunset Wheat, American wheat ale, 3.25
  • Sonoma Tart with Mango, 3
  • Average Overall Rating: 3.59

I liked what I tried at Bear Republic Lakeside, with special preference given to the Racer X and Juicy IPA. Had I gone ahead and added Racer IPA, Red Rocket, and other beers I’m already familiar with, the overall rating would have climbed even higher, but the beer was still good overall and there wasn’t a bad brew in the bunch.

Credit: Bryan Carey

All in the Family

Bear Republic Lakeside is the latest addition to the family owned Bear Republic chain. The Rohnert Park brewpub was opened in September, 2017 and has been thrilling local craft beer fans ever since with its well-crafted beer, delicious food, spacious facility, and unparalleled service. It joins the original Bear Republic Brewpub in Healdsburg and the main production brewing facility in Cloverdale as the third unit of the Bear Republic empire- a business that was founded by the Norgrove family and has been going strong for more than two decades.

I’ve been drinking and enjoying Bear Republic beer for a long time so I was already somewhat familiar with the brand. But having never visited Sonoma County before, I was anxious to check out this new brewpub and discover what Bear Republic was capable of doing. I knew they could brew great beer, but what about food and a brewpub style atmosphere? They only way to know was to pay a visit and I gladly obliged when the opportunity was presented.

Driving up to Bear Republic Lakeside, I knew I was approaching a brewpub long before I entered the building, as some of the brewing structures are located outside of the building in full view. Once I walked inside, my initial impression was positive for countless reasons. I like that they have so much space and it’s cool how they have two separate outdoor spaces- one designed as a beer garden, the other for table- style dining. Lakeside dining is always nice as well and there is a section for games to keep adults entertained between beers.

Moving to the inside, Bear Republic Lakeside continues to impress on different levels. The lighting, consisting of mini kegs enclosing the lights, suspended from the ceiling, is certainly cool and so is the large art mural, painted by hand, on one of the walls. For added educational value, the various brewing equipment is labeled with Lauter Tun, Whirlpool, Kettle, etc all identified, for quick reference. So, in case you’ve often wondered which of these stainless steel beauties was used for which function, you won’t need to ask for the head brewer. It’s clearly spelled out, for all to see.

Bear Republic Lakeside brews its own beer, as a brewpub should, but even if you’re not a huge fan of craft beer, this restaurant is worth visiting for everything else it offers. I really liked my Western Burger and only wish I had the opportunity to try even more, since the Caliente Burger, Rocket Burger, and other burgers and sandwiches certainly grabbed my attention. The other menu items sounded excellent as well and keep in mind that Bear Republic Lakeside also has several specialty cocktails for those who prefer a different type of adult beverage.

Bear Republic will always be known to the craft beer public for its expertise at crafting delicious and memorable beer. My visit to Bear Republic Lakeside proved that the Norgrove family has a high degree of expertise in other areas of hospitality and they welcome you to Bear Republic Lakeside for a great meal, fine brew, and a relaxed and varied atmosphere. Pay a visit the next time you’re in the Santa Rosa area. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.

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Credit; Saint Arnold Brewing

Saint Arnold Brewing in Houston, Texas, has been delighting craft beer fans for a long time with its highly sought- after Divine Reserve releases. Now, Saint Arnold is taking the Divine Reserve to new heights with the release of the strongest alcohol by volume release in the history of the series. It’s Divine Reserve 18, an Imperial Stout with a potent 13.4 percent abv.

As longtime fans of Divine Reserve already know, each entry in the series is something completely new: A single batch beer brewed with a unique recipe. These beers can be any style, as they are only limited by the creative talents of the Saint Arnold Brewing team. They tend to be big, bold, memorable beers and Divine Reserve 18 takes these adjectives to unforeseen levels. The beer is brewed using three times the grain bill as Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower with two additions of Belgian Candi syrup during the fermentation process. The beer is then aged for three months before adding one final ingredient: a small amount of Madagascar Vanilla beans.

Aaron Inkrott, Saint Arnold Brewing Operations Manager, says this Divine Reserve was a true test of what the brewing yeast could handle.

“For this Divine Reserve, we turned an experiment into what the alcohol tolerance of our yeast was into an amazing beer,” said Inkrott. “By taking what we’ve learned in-house, from friends in the industry, and through several trials, we created a beer that we’re extremely proud to share.”

Divine Reserve 18 pours to a pitch dark hue with a mocha- colored head of foam. The nose on this beer combines chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and dark fruit. The taste has been described as containing rich chocolate, raspberries, honey, dark cherries, and vanilla. It’s a complex and full- bodied brew, and Saint Arnold founder/brewer Brock Wagner says it’s yet another example of how the road to brewing greatness knows no true boundary.

“One of the most satisfying parts of brewing is that we are still learning and growing as brewers even after doing this for 24 years,” said Wagner. “Finding limits and then moving past them all while brewing well-balanced beers we want to enjoy with our community is why we do this.”

Those who want to get their hands on Divine Reserve 18 will need to take quick action. These beers might be different in style, but they share one fact in common: They sell out quickly. To find out more about Divine Reserve, visit https://www.saintarnold.com/divine-reserve/.
To attempt to find the beer in the two release states of Texas or Louisiana, curious seekers are encouraged to search the hashtag #DR18 on Twitter and Instagram.

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Credit: BridgePort Brewery

It started with monkeys. Then, attention turned to dogs. Even a tortoise made its way into a rocket and eventually, humans were part of the journey into the heavens. Today, we can add something else to the growing list of space- bound objects: Beer.

BridgePort Brewing IPA celebrates 22 years and to commemorate its two- plus decades as the perennial Oregon- brewed thirst quencher, BridgePort Brewing launched its flagship beer into space via balloon for a 90 minute ride above the Earth’s surface. Reaching just slightly beyond the 22 mile mark, the bottle of beer was returned safely to the earth, coasting back to the west Texas desert where it was launched. It landed completely intact about 55 miles away from the initial launch point.

Gregor Mina, Director of Marketing for Bridgeport Brewing, says the decision to launch Bridgeport IPA into space was befitting of a beer that broke so much new ground when it was first released.

“The richness of the region’s hop fields inspired BridgePort and set the benchmark for the IPA style,” said Mina. “Hop boundaries were pushed way out and we felt it would be fun to send the brew that helped shape the category ‘way out there’ into space and mark another first for BridgePort IPA.”

BridgePort IPA was first launched into the Oregon beer market in 1996 and was the first IPA in the Pacific Northwest. It’s difficult to imagine now, but at that time, IPA was unheard of among the beer drinking public. The introduction of Bridgeport IPA was the beginning of a new era in craft beer, one that continues to this day as the craft beer revolution pushes forward, influencing beer drinkers in Oregon and across the United States.

BridgePort Brewery has another important celebration going on at the moment. In addition to BridgePort IPA reaching 22 years of age, the brewery just completed renovation of its brewpub located at 1313 NW Marshall Street in Portland, Oregon. The newly designed brewpub is ready to serve Portland with great beer and equally great food in an enhanced atmosphere.

Space exploration has captured our imagination for more than half a century and several different animals, insects, and objects have made their way into the vastness of space, all in the name of science and discovery. Craft beer is a newcomer to the list and while the use of a balloon is a far cry from a sophisticated SpaceX or NASA rocket, BridgePort IPA can still lay claim to its status as the first craft beer to reach these heights. Here’s to BridgePort IPA for pushing boundaries and here’s to another 22 years as one of the Pacific Northwest’s staple IPA brews.

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Do you like spontaneity? I like to believe I do and I certainly don’t mind the occasional spur- of- the- moment response to external stimuli. When I visit new breweries and brewpubs, however, I usually have a plan of action in place with a window of time set aside to make sure I have ample opportunity to experience a brewing establishment to the fullest. But sometimes, even the most meticulously laid plans are tossed aside, often with surprisingly positive results. Such was the case when I visited Pinthouse Pizza, an Austin, Texas brewpub with locations at 4729 Burnet Road and 4236 S. Lamar Street.

Pizza and Brewing

I visited the Pinthouse Pizza Burnet Road location on a Saturday evening with my wife and kids. Unsure where to stop for dinner, we pulled out our phones and checked different apps. Since the kids were part of the evening plans, we knew that the place we visited had to have food that would satisfy their basic yet finicky senses. Pizza seemed like an obvious choice and after a few adjustments to the gps, we arrived at Pinthouse Pizza, ready for food and brew.

Pinthouse Pizza features picnic table style seating and most of the tables are adjacent to each other, making it perfect for those times when you don’t mind rubbing elbows with others and don’t mind the possibility of making new friends. It was quite crowded when I visited and also quite loud. A quick glance around the room revealed the brewhouse, the drink bar, and the ordering bar. Knowing what my wife likes to drink, I headed immediately to the bar to get her a glass of hefeweizen and a flight sampler of house beer for myself.

For food, Pinthouse Pizza is set up a little differently from most restaurants. The wait staff does not visit your table for ordering purposes. Instead, customers order at the counter and then take a number. When the food is ready, they bring it to your table. We started off our dining adventure with a Das Pretzel with beer cheese dipping sauce and an order of House Nachos. We added a pizza to the mix and shared the assorted goodies among the four of us, commenting on the quality as we progressed from pretzel to nachos to pizza, and back again.

Now for the Beer

Pinthouse Pizza brews and serves its own beers plus they serve a large number of competitor’s beers from the local Austin area and beyond. I sampled five of Pinthouse Pizza’s own brews when I visited. Here is a listing of what I tried, in alphabetical order by name, followed by my Untappd rating on a five point scale:

  • Bearded Seal, Irish Stout, 4
  • Hop Engine, American Pale Ale, 4.25
  • Man O’ War IPA, 4
  • Old Begula, Red Ale, 3
  • Port-Kins’, Porter, 4.25

Average Overall Rating: 3.9

If I had to select a favorite, I would go with the porter. It is well- made, with chocolate and bitter coffee notes, and a good representation of the style. I liked the Hop Engine American Pale Ale very much as well.

Classic Combination

Austin’s Pinthouse Pizza aims the spotlight on one of America’s most popular food/beverage pairings. Pizza and beer go together like few other food and drink combinations and it makes sense that an establishment that brews its own quality beer would also try its hand at producing and serving top- notch pizza pie. Pinthouse Pizza does exactly that, with award winning quality that shows with each bite and each sip.

Pinthouse Pizza puts its heart and soul into its pizza and beer. I started off my visit with a flight of house beers and liked what I tried. I was quite possibly even more impressed with the food. The pretzel, chicken nachos, and pizza were all exceptional and, as expected, they matched up decidedly well with the beer. We were all quite famished when we walked into Pinthouse Pizza and, considering the overflow crowd, we were a little concerned about the wait time for service. Much to our pleasant surprise, the food was brought to our table quickly. The pretzel was delivered less than three minutes after ordering and the nachos and pizza showed up about three and seven minutes later, respectively. With such a large crowd present, I was quite impressed that the kitchen was able to operate with such a high degree of efficiency.

I could tell quickly that Pinthouse Pizza is a popular place among locals. Guests seat themselves and even though it was crowded, we found a place at one of the tables in a matter of minutes. The beer hall/picnic table style seating took us by surprise, but we are a more social family than most and thus didn’t mind. However, one needs to keep in mind that Pinthouse Pizza isn’t necessarily a good place to dine if you value your privacy. The majority of the picnic tables are adjacent to each other, like one would find in a school cafeteria. It’s a communal type of arrangement and it may not be to everyone’s liking.

I enjoyed the thin crust style pizza served at Pinthouse Pizza and the rest of the family felt the same way. My kids decided to go with the ‘build your own’ option and chose a pizza with the basic pepperoni and sausage. I would have preferred more toppings, but my kids are ‘tweens and are still a little reluctant to try new things. Looking at the pizzas on the menu, however, I really wish we had ordered more. Specialty pizzas like Honey Pear, The Armadillo, and Shroomin’ Goat sound incredible and ensure that I will be returning to Pinthouse Pizza again.

Austin, Texas has a thriving craft beer scene and I have already visited multiple breweries and brewpubs around the Austin area. The other beer adventures were planned in advance and there is something to be said for being organized and following a course of action. But there is also something to be said for spontaneous response and my visit to Pinthouse Pizza shows that impromptu reactions can pay off handsomely in the end. Pay a visit to Pinthouse Pizza the next time you’re in Austin, Texas. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.

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Credit: Fred Morledge

Craft Beer celebration is back in America’s favorite city of indulgence, Las Vegas, Nevada with the return of the Great Vegas Festival of Beer. Scheduled for April 6 and April 7, 2018, the festival is expected to attract over 10,000 people over its two days, making it the largest craft beer festival in the state.

Mad Craft Experience, a popular late addition to last year’s festival, will be back this year and will take place between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday, April 6. It will feature food competitions and special beer tastings. The main event, the Grand Tasting, will take place on Saturday, April 7 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with early 2 p.m. entry for Get Motley VIP ticket and Early Entry ticket holders. Attendees can expect to find more than 500 beers from over 120 local, regional, and national breweries. Brian Chapin, CEO and founder of Motley Brews- the organization responsible for the festival- says the Great Vegas Festival of Beer is unique among beer fests for a multitude of reasons.

“We have separated Great Vegas from any other beer festival in the nation by introducing new interactive and experimental experiences for craft beer lovers,” said Chapin. “This year, we’re adding even more entertainment, culinary options and of course, beer”, Chapin added.

Great Vegas Festival of Beer has grown quickly over the years. Originally launched in 2011, the festival was attended by just over 2,000 thirsty guests. It expanded each year and to accommodate the growing interest, the festival was expanded to a two day event in 2017.

Tickets to the Great Vegas Festival of Beer are offered at different levels. Admission to the Mad Craft Experience starts at $55 plus fees. The Grand Tasting on Saturday is priced at $40 plus fees or $50 plus fees for early 2.p.m. admission. And if you really want a memorable experience, elect for the Get Motley VIP ticket. It goes for $90 and includes early 2 p.m. admission plus access to the VIP Brewers Lounge where guests will find such desirable extras as a rotating tap of rare and limited release beers; food prepared by some of the Las Vegas area’s greatest chefs; a special lounge area; and other accompaniments. Tickets can be purchased online at www.greatvegasbeer.com.

A portion of ticket sales for the Great Vegas Beer Festival are slated for local charities, among them The Folded Flag Foundation, the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, Goodie Two Shoes Foundation and the Nevada Craft Brewers Association. It’s going to be a memorable two days of beer and fun, so logon to www.greatvegasbeer.com and buy your tickets today!

To keep up with the Great Vegas Festival of Beer via social media, be sure to visit them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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Credit: Wikimedia

Dogs are commonplace at breweries across America. Not only do breweries often have a dog on site to keep the employees company while they brew, they also encourage patrons to bring their dogs along when they visit the brewery, for a complete family- friendly experience. Now, an Oregon bar is taking this concept to a new level, offering beer and dogs for adoption, all in one place.

The establishment is called Fido’s and it has already declared itself the “World’s First Dog Tap House.”  Combining the importance of a dog rescue shelter with the local appeal of a craft beer bar, Fido’s aims to facilitate face- to- face encounters with dogs in need of a home. After a craft beer or two and some time spent with one of these lovable and friendly pooches, patrons just might leave the facility with something far different than the usual growler.

Fido’s Tap House serves appetizers, salads, wraps, sandwiches, pizza, and hot dogs and features rotating taps serving craft beer, cider, and wine. To pique customer’s interest, the establishment has a Day Room where customers can play with the rescue dogs between pints. The dogs are provided by Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, an organization dedicated to animal welfare. The idea is that patrons will stop by to have a few beers, meet the dogs, and hopefully decide then and there that their home could use a four- legged friend.

Of course, not every person who walks through the door is going to have an immediate interest in dog adoption. The goal, however, is to raise awareness. Even if no adoption takes place, customers will at least be made aware of the problems these shelter animals face. If they don’t directly adopt, Fido’s encourages individuals to show their support in other ways by making financial donations to animal shelters, volunteering, or otherwise supporting the cause of animal welfare.

Fido’s Tap House is officially open right now, but to kick off the occasion of the World’s First Dog Tap House, they have a Grand Opening scheduled for February 13, 2018. The bar and rescue shelter is located at 7700 SW Dartmouth Street in Tigard, Oregon, just south of Portland and the party begins at 11 a.m. For more information, visit online at www.ilovefidos.com

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