Archive for the category “Beer Adventures”

“Serious Talk. Seriously.” Podcast

HisandHers_portraitWe recently sat down with Johnny Flores, host of the Sacramento-focused podcast Serious Talk.  Seriously., to drink a beer and record an episode of his show.  The three of us shared a bottle of 3 Best Friends, a delicious coffee vanilla lager brewed by the rejuvenated Davis legends Sudwerk, and talked about beer, illustrations, how we got started here at His and Hers, our review process, and some of our favorite beers.  There is also a lengthy talk about the evolution of the TV show Cheers, long a fecund subject for discussion in our household, and a brief back-and-forth about pairing beers with Panda Express.  You can download the episode (#28) on iTunes here or listen on Johnny’s blog: stspodcast.com.

 

Oak Park Brewing Company

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After months of anxiously peering through their windows during Saturday morning Old Soul runs, we finally got to check out the newly opened Oak Park Brewing Company last weekend.  It was worth the wait, and their large brewing space/bar on Broadway shows a meticulous attention to detail and design.  They had six beers on tap, and while they were not serving tasters for their high-volume opening weekend, they apparently plan to offer those moving forward.  The Rower’s RyePA was the standout among the beers we sampled, a bitter and complex brew that showed off the rye as much as the hops.  There is an immense indoor dining area – they offer dining and catering services as well as beer – but the sweetest plum is a spacious outdoor patio roofed with interlacing lights.  There is a lot of activity and development on this stretch of Broadway, and Oak Park Brewing Company has the potential to be a hub of the scene.

The Rare Barrel

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We recently visited The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, a brewery that produces some of the most unique and delicious sours we have ever tasted. Their hours are limited, but they recently started serving on Sunday. If you’re in the Bay Area we highly recommend checking them out.

Portland and Hood River

 

IMG_1065We recently spent a week in Portland, with most of our time devoted to exploring the city’s inspiring array of breweries, beer bars, and bottle shops.  Our first couple nights were spent at a hotel in downtown Portland, one which was conveniently located a half-block away from Bailey’s Taproom, the best beer bar we hit during our visit.  Of course, Bailey’s Taproom does not lack for competition, and while we were not able to hit every highly lauded suds palace on our wishlist, a few of our personal favorites were Belmont Station, Imperial Bottle Shop, APEX, and The Beer Mongers.

One of the many great things about Portland is that every place that serves beer also serves food, so every brewery in the city is basically a brewpub.  It was no surprise to us that Upright, Cascade, Hair of the Dog, and Deschutes ruled the Portland scene, but that didn’t make the beers any less sublime.  The more unfamiliar breweries that really impressed us were Base Camp, Burnside, and Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB).  A pilgrimage to Hood River to visit Full Sail and the magical Logsdon Farmhouse was our only out-of-town trip, and it was more than worth the effort.

Here is a list of the 10 best “new to us” beers that we tried during our trip to Portland.  It is tempting to just award all ten spots to the litany of magnificent Cascade sours that we consumed over the course of a couple hours at their Barrel House, or to split the spots evenly between the heavy hitters like Upright and Hair of the Dog, but we are limiting ourselves to one beer per brewery.  All beers were consumed at the brewery, unless otherwise indicated.

Portland Beercation

BeerInPortlandWe’re headed to Portland for a Beercation. Follow our adventures on Twitter, Untappd (Daniel B. and Darcey), Instagram and Facebook.

 

Ruhstaller Tasting Room

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We were very happy to receive an invitation to the soft opening of the new Ruhstaller tasting room last week.  They only opened their doors Thursday through Saturday, and there was not a lot of signage to direct us, with only a stencil of Ruhstaller’s cigar-chomping “Jimmy” logo to let us know we had the right building.  Once inside the underground facility, which is dubbed The Swiss Rifle Club in a nod to Jimmy Ruhstaller’s personal history, we got in line for beers.  The tasting room is sectioned off into two separate areas – the bar area, which is dominated by a large communal table, and a more living room-like lounge area.  There is a lot of Ruhstaller-related memorabilia both new and old in the décor, including a large display of their trademark burlap-wrapped bottles.  When we visited, they were not pouring the entire Ruhstaller selection, but rather were informally test-marketing several varieties of a house red ale called Swiss Rifle Club, as well as a Belgian-y saison and a brown ale.  Unfortunately, we could not find any information about when the tasting room will be open to the public, but the Friday night soft open was very well attended.

D.C./RVA Trip

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We spent our 2013 holidays visiting Darcey’s parents in Chesterfield, Virginia, just outside of Richmond, and we also made a short side trip to Washington, D.C.  Naturally, we scheduled as much of our visit as we could around DC and RVA breweries and brewpubs, and yet we were left with the impression that we barely scratched the surface of these exciting beer scenes.

The first brewery that we hit was Isley Brewing Company, coincidentally also one of the newest to the Richmond scene, having opened just a few months before our visit.  They were also kind enough to give us a tour of their small but highly sophisticated brewing operation. The brewers at Isley told us they were brewing only a few different styles to start out (although their website shows they’ve added an IPA to the rotation since last December), and then creating variations on those styles by infusing them with various adjunct ingredients.  We had a hard time deciding whether we preferred the clean flavors of their The Bribe oatmeal porter or the peanut butter-infused version known as Choosy Mother.

From there, it was on to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, which we were lucky enough to visit on the day of the Illumination festival, an annual solstice celebration that features a lot of their rare and barrel-aged beers.  Hardywood is another relative newcomer to the Richmond scene, but their warehouse-sized tasting room/brewing space is genuinely awe-inspiring, more on the scale of something like Green Flash than a mere microbrewery.  Their beers are also extremely unique and ambitious, including Bourbon Cru, a barrel-aged quad, and a bourbon barrel-aged version of their justifiably famous GBS (Gingerbread Stout), but even their relatively simple, Belgian-inspired Singel was tremendous.

We moved on to DC the next day, and practically bee-lined over to the famed Churchkey bar, where we met up with a couple of our Sacramento beer buddies who were also visiting Virginia for the holidays.  The entire group tore through the sizable beer list via a litany of tasters, including our first-ever samples of beers from Great Lakes, 3 Stars, DC Brau, and XBeeriment.  However, the undisputed champ of the night was the cinnamon-spiked Abraxas from Perennial, a legendary Imperial Stout that deserves every ounce of its reputation.

The next night, we went to a D.C. beer bar called The Black Squirrel, where we ordered a couple of rounds of tasters.  It was another mixed bag of styles, including an Almond Porter from 21stAmendment and a Union Craft gose, but the highlight of the night was undoubtedly the Tasmanian IPA from St. Louis-based brewery Schlafly.  For all of the rare breweries and styles that we tried, though, we were just as thrilled to sample East Coast stalwarts that we can’t get here, such as Yuengling Lager or Brooklyn Brown Ale, in our hotel bar.  Other stops along the way offered opportunities to sample exotic-to-us East Coast beers, like the Troegs Hopback we found in the café at the Smithsonian, or the Victory DirtWolf six-pack we scored at an area CVS.

Back in Richmond, a day spent sightseeing through the city was capped off with a trip to Legend Brewing, the oldest operating microbrewery in central Virginia.  Legend opened in 1994, and as such they are rooted in the standard beer styles that every brewpub offered back then (lager, porter, stout, repeat), but they are also expanding the roster with their Urban Legend series.  We sampled most of their offerings, all of them quite good, but the easy winner was the Bourbon Barrel Golden IPA, which offered notes of butterscotch, pineapple, and hard alcohol.

Our last night in Virginia was spent at Richmond’s Mekong Café, where a delicious menu of Vietnamese cuisine is augmented with an absolutely bonkers beer list of local favorites and world beaters.  This gave us an opportunity to recommend the Schlafly Tasmanian IPA to all of the hopheads in our group, and we were able to sample more Virginia offerings like Center of the Universe’s White Russian-inspired El Duderino milk stout, and Strangeways’ sublimely malty Belgian-style brown ale Woodbooger.

Of course, we could have spent our entire trip working our way through the beer menu at Mekong Café, and still come away with only a sliver of the picture of the emerging DC/RVA beer cultures.

Sudwerk Brewing Company

DSC03594One of the underappreciated gems of the Sacramento-area beer community is the Sudwerk Dock Store and tasting room.  Many long-time Sacramentans may hold negative connotations of Sudwerk as a musty old brewpub specializing in weak and outmoded beer styles.  However, the Dock Store, which is located behind the restaurant, has become a real bastion of restless innovation in the local beer scene.  The symbiotic connection that Sudwerk forged with the UC Davis brewing program has resulted in a rapidly rotating and ever-expanding taplist, one that rewards repeat visits.

Of course, none of that would matter if the beer was bad, but Sudwerk has been turning out excellent brews of late.  Our first exposure to this new (and somewhat re-branded) Sudwerk output was at the Art of Beer event, where we were floored by a barrel-aged Flanders red ale cheekily dubbed Diddly Flanders.  That beer was not on tap when we visited the Sudwerk Dock Store a couple of weekends back, but we did get to sample an inspiring array of their brews.

Our eyes got big when we saw that the newly tapped Buffalo Theory was a dark sour beer aged in oak barrels, so we each ordered our own glass.  It’s a nice, non-puckering sour, and offers a good balance between rich and bitter flavors.  The Dock Store was also selling freshly filled bottles of Buffalo Theory, and we can report that the beer performs just as well poured as it does drawn.

After we downed the Buffalo Theory, we took a tasting tour through the rest of the taplist, which included a hearty spiced Gose, a complex and refreshing Black IPL, and a fantastically full-flavored Session IPA.  The taplist changes from day to day, and they are constantly brewing new and ambitious styles, making the Sudwerk Dock Store a mandatory stop for adventurous imbibers.

We also got to meet up with a fellow beer blogger and enthusiast Hops and Dots (aka Natalie) and her boyfriend Blake.  Check out Natalie’s blog here.

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