Landed in the rain of Sacramento with time to visit breweries before the main event of the California Craft Beer Summit. First up was Urban Roots and their BBQ.
A great selection of beers and boy did that smokehouse smell good. I had the 10 Degree Czech Lager in a big ol’ mug and it was fantastic. I followed that with Mizzenmast a gin barrel aged Saison was good too. The food was excellent and the space was well run and nicely decorated.
Next up is a return visit to the Midtown Sacramento outpost of Fieldwork Brewing. Since last I visited, the space was much smaller and minus the pizza. The beer, especially flagship Pulp was fantastic. The two Belgian beers were a little below par to me. And an imperial stout was wicked marshmallow overload.
Last spot for the day was Loyal Legion, the Sacramento outpost of a Portland beer bar. Damn, it was a long beer list and the first two I picked were empty. Third choice was a brand new brewery to me, Old Caz. Decent IPA but not a Wow!
Stop # 2 is in Pomona where Neon Bear Brewing resides next door to a neon museum storage facility, hence the bright name.
Let’s shed some light on their beers…
….I would start with Honey Laundrin’ a rather hefty honey blonde ale at 7.5% then move on to the Near Dark Schwarzbier before going back a bit to their cream ale, Near Light. Gotta try an IPA so Beach Beer their WC IPA is my choice before finishing with a sour stout, Sweet Sorrow.
Since it is the month for the California Craft Beer Summit, I thought we needed to go around California even though February was centered in Sacramento.
Our first stop is in Oakdale, Grains of Virtue who probably need to collaborate with Grains of Wrath in Washington State.
Here is a sample sampler tray…
Papi Chulo – “Dark Mexican Lager Our take on a medium bodied lager with slow-roasted caramel malts brewed for a rich, smooth taste.”
Welcome to the Machine – “Triple Hazy IPA with Mosaic, Riwaka, Nectaron and Waimea hops.”
Peanut Butter Solution – “Chocolate peanut butter dry stout perfect for winter nights.”
Death by Cheesecake – “Red Velvet Cheesecake Sour”
Our final stop in the state capital of California is on 16th Street, the home of Pipeworks AND Touchstone Brewing Co.
Time to choose a taster flight…
Off Belay Low Alcohol Pale Ale – “We were asked about non-alcoholic beers, so we decided to give one a go! A little bit above the 0.5% ABV threshold, Off Belay is still very low in alcohol at under 1%. We dry hopped it with Citra to keep it fresh and a little bit hoppy.”
Arete Amber – “Arete is brewed in the style of a classic Northern German Altbier with all North American malts, the bulk of them grown right here in California. A delicate balance between malty and bitter, this beer is very approachable no matter your style.”
Deadpoint Black Pilsner – “Traditionally referred to as a black lager or schwarzbier, this clean & dry lager has notes of milk chocolate and dark roasted barley. So take a sip, relax, and reach for that distant hold.”
Mayor of Indian Rock Imperial Stout – “Known as the Mayor of Indian Rock for his knowledge of every element and willingness to share beta, we brewed a dedication beer for our friend, Dave Altman. Dave was a part of the Touchstone Climbing family for more than 2 decades. This Imperial Stout stands strong, with roasted notes of chocolate and coffee, finishing very smooth and silky.”
Oak Park Brewing, like me, enjoys an acronym or two but the most important one to remember is “ABCs, which stands for (A)rt, (B)eer, and (C)ommUnity.”
Below is my idea of a great taster tray from OPB…
We Are Sacramento Pilsner – “Amber Pilsner dedicated to the hard working, creative people of Sacramento.”
OPB IPA – “Pours golden yellow with bright white head. Nose is filled with tropical fruit and ripe papaya. Each sip begins with dank hoppiness and ends with notes of grapefruit peel lingering on the tongue. West Coast, clear and refreshing.”
Hazy Lush Sky – “The hazy counterpart of our Lush Tropical Sky IPA. Very dry and clean. The flavor nuances are light citrus, slight plum tartness, pineapple, and grapefruit pith. The nose has a tropical pineapple presence.”
Cherry Strong Ale – “Cherry Stong Ale with hints of Lemon.”
Our first e-taster tray in Sacramento is from Alaro Brewing. Where you can be lord of the castle in the former Rubicon Brewing location and get some tapas with your beer.
For Goons & Glory Golden Ale – “Bready, biscuity malt profile – balanced hop – black currant spice – mild tropical fruit flavor.”
Bennett Sacramento Pale Ale – “This 5X Medal Winning American Style Pale Ale defined as a “Sacramento Pale Ale” is made in the heart of Sacramento using a Sacramento Valley grown, sustainable heritage barley from Admiral Maltings and Azacca & Simcoe hops. This perfect ale boasts a clean & crisp malt bill and tropical fruit notes of mango, papaya & citrus.”
Partner in Crime India Cream Ale – “This India Cream ale is made to be lower abv than a traditional IPA but more hop-forward than a Cream Ale. The use of a “juicy” yeast strain (WLP067), Hallertau Blanc and L’Orien hops mean this beer is big on the juicy fruit but easy on the senses.”
Armada British Brown Ale – “Ahh, the British Brown Ale is without question our favorite cold-weather beer. With its lightly roasted and caramelized malt profile perfectly balanced with noble hop characters, moderate alcohol content and a dry finish, it’s hard to not have another! A style that was originally designed to serve the masses and it still serves that purpose today.”
Our final stop for January is in San Jose, California at Fox Tale Fermentation. And boy do they have some fun ingredients in their beers.
Time to pick some projects for the taster tray…
Plant Cultura – Oaxacan Green Corn Lager
Magic Monday – Farmhouse Ale with fresh pressed Asian Pear Juice.
Fung Shui – Farmhouse Ale with Candy Cap Mushrooms
Legend of Pandan – Tiki Inspired Golden Ale with Macadamia, Coconut and Pandan.
In a patented Beer Search Party move, read THIS about 2023 Oregon and SW Washington breweries about to open first, then you can see below my picks and if you agree with my choices as the most interesting newbies.
Oak Union – hey, hey might be landing in my hometown of Milwaukie
Breakside – big plans for three locations including Astoria
Upright – adding a second location in a former corner gas station
Little Hop Brewing – a brewery and a mobile Tiny Hop House truck
Next up from my reading of Hop Culture’s Best of 2022 list is Bizarre Brewing in Seattle, Washington. Such an interesting line-up of beers with spelt and oats everywhere.
The Sun Myth Unfiltered Czech-Style Pilsner – “The Sun Myth is our little Czech-style pilsner. Mashed with pilsner and chit malt, The Sun Myth was then hopped in the kettle with a blend of Saaz and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops. This little nod to Winter was then fermented cold and allowed to naturally carbonate itself. Once carbonated, The Sun Myth went through a long cold lagering phase making it extra crisp.”
Dinkel Hell Bavarian-Style Spelt Ale – “Dinkel Hell is our spin on the weisse hell biers of Bavaria. Our take started with pale pilsner malt and a large portion of flaked wheat. We then added a generous amount of spelt malt. Hopped lightly with German Saphir, this pale spelt ale was then fermented very cold with our favorite hefeweizen yeast strain for a nice long maturation.”
Teenage Jesus Oat Bitter – “Teenage Jesus is our riff on an English ordinary bitter. Mashed with a base of pale English malt, flaked barley, caramunich and a portion of caramelized oat malt, we then hop this little bitter with East Kent Goldings, Challenger and Comet hops. Once Teenage Jesus has cooled down we pitch our favorite English ale strain and allow it to ferment before spunding to naturally carbonate.”
Steam Noir Dark Lager – “Steam Noir is our riff on a traditional steam beer. We took the same steam concept of fermenting a lager at warmer temperatures and applied it to a dark lager. This version was brewed with pilsner, Maris Otter, chocolate, caramel and spelt malts. It was then hopped with Styrian Gold, Cascade and Tettnanger. Steam Noir was put into a blend of port and red wine barrels cold, then allowed to naturally warm until it was finished fermenting. Once finished, Steam Noir was lagered in barrels cold for an additional four weeks.”
Hop Culture did a round-up of best breweries in 2022 and it was a wide ranging list. This month, I will highlight three with the first being Mahalo Aleworks. This Maui brewery has a super cool train station style arrivals graphic for their beers, so let’s take a peek…
You can start with a traditional English Brown Ale or a Vienna Lagale. If you are in the mood for Belgian, they have a dry hop Saison or the more traditional Farmhouse Saison. Sours are their as well, Mango and Tropical last time I checked. Then to finish you can head for their Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.