Review – Oyster Stout from Henhouse Brewing

It is not often you see an Oyster Stout on shelves let alone one in summer, so I had to review it. Here is my reaction to the Oyster Stout from Henhouse Brewing.

Pours jet black. Nice espresso head that dissipates to around the rim. Burnt roast is kind of coffee like but also a hint of chocolate. Beer is actually a little thin. for a stout. A little briny, and the salt is pretty strong. A very seaworthy beer.

Book Review – So You Want to Start a Brewery?


Hope you like books!  ‘Cause there will be few more coming down the pike due to the Christmas, what to get Sean rush.  I will hold back and not review any non-related beer books though.  No, The Martian or Midnight in Siberia or Beautiful Chaos for you lot.

Next up is the story of how Lagunitas Brewing came to be in So You Want to Start a Brewery? by Tony Magee.  This story meanders a bit.  But once you are a few pages in, you realize that is by design.  The Lagunitas Story is a winding digression of a brewery story.  And akin to the Sierra Nevada history, the fact that they are alive and brewing is a near miracle.

I was seriously amazed by the shoestring budget and the financial hurdles that Magee endured to bring the brewery to Petaluma and Chicago.  You learn the backstory on how Brown Shugga’ came to be in a late night mistake fix.  The Undercover Weed investigation proceedings.  And more importantly you learn a bit about the culture that is imbued into the brand.  From the design of the labels to the taste of the beers.

This book is a bit on the tell-all side which I expected form an outsized figure like Magee who has been known to call out people on social media.  But as the book goes along, you can’t help but side with him.  I expect someone could write a companion volume that focuses on the negative aspects which would be just as truthful.

What surprised me was the ending of the book.  Not the Chicago brewery epilogue but Magee’s take on where he has been and what he has learned.  In particular, this chunk has still stuck with me:

So, after all the time and all the histrionics, what is the net result? What are we, where are we going, and what do we mean? Those are the questions every twenty- one- year- old asks himself. Twenty- one happens to be the brewery’s current age— a time of necessary choices and uncertain paths. For my part, I hold this question as central to the reeling in and rolling forward of this company. We don’t want to be just “whatever we are” in the future, because I think we have become something interesting now and are worthy of a good life as a brand among brands in a world that we helped to create. The answers to these questions are important for us to know going forward, so that we can play out our strengths. It’s a delicate thing to write about, the future.

Petaluma is Brewing

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When you take beer-cations, despite all sorts of planning, you end up missing spots that have to be saved for the next trip to that region and such is the case for my Thanksgiving trip from last year to north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

But one way to pack in more bang for your buck (if you are not going to San Francisco Beer Week next month) is to try out the local beer festivals.  And this fall, you should put the Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival on your radar.  You might see locals like 101 North, Three Uncles Brewing Company, HenHouse Brewing or Dempsey’s Brewpub that you just won’t see outside Marin County.



Between keeping up with L.A., the obscene brewery opening pace in San Diego, the Bay area gets the short end of the coverage. Which explains why it has taken me two years to talk about a new (well, not now) brewery in Petaluma by the name of HenHouse headed by Collin McDonnell and Shane Goepel who are doing the brewing on nights and weekends for now.

According to their website they are “all about creating new and interesting kinds of delicious” two barrels at a time. They have a couple chicken monikered beers (Big and Little) as well as a representative sampling of beer styles from Belgian Golden to Black Lager to ESB and a Hopless Saison. Oh and an Oyster Stout as well.

And they must be good because of the two places to reliably find their beers are their HenHouse location and at a couple restaurants run by some unknown guy, Thomas Keller and his French Laundry and Ad Hoc restaurants.

It still Sucks

One of my favorite beers from last year was the Brown Shugga’ replacement from Lagunitas. And it is coming back! It will be released soon hopefully because as good as Daytime Fractional was, it only reminded me of how much Sucks didn’t.

Label is a bit on the ugly side but if it is the same recipe then I do not care. Thank goodness they have more tanks up in Petaluma.

Wild Sumpin’


from the Lagunitas brewers, “Another Big Sister of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale…. Loads of Malted Wheat for a Curious Malt Foundation and a Light Color, But Our Belgian Yeast Leaves a Huge Flavor and Complexishness.”

So go get a bottle of the original so you can do a taste test when the WILD version is released.