January Brings A New Challenge!

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January starts the new trek for attempting to hit a minimum of 100 different breweries or tasting rooms. This will be the 4th year of this personal challenge and if I’m going to make 100 different brewery stops, I’ve got to start strong. Math tells me I need to hit 8.4 breweries each month to meet my goal. So how did January go?  Well, a little bit of a slow start, but that’s what the rest of the year is for.

#001 – Monk Cellar I really don’t get out here enough.  They are brewing some classic styles beautifully and the food is spot on. My choices for lunch, their take on an American IPA and what might be my favorite, the London Porter. The IPA drank big for a 6.5% IPA. West Coast bitterness with some candy sweetness from the hops. The London Porter is an open-fermented gem that has a smooth chocolate finish while not drinking too heavy. The Scotch Eggs pair with life, don’t leave without trying them.

#002 – New Glory Brewery So, New Glory is an easy “Go-To” for me. Great staff, good vibe (keep the punk rock going) and I’m always impressed with the beer. This stop included Take 5, really superb Session IPA. Do you Even Simcoe, Broh? part of the single hop series. I try not to miss out on any of these.  Lastly, Greenergy, this 8.1% DIPA was drinking the best tonight. I’ve been going away from the higher ABV IPAs, but this one might bring me back in.

#003 – Track 7 Brewing (Curtis Park) is another favorite of mine, and today was no exception. The day started with Haze and Lupuline in Curtis Park, this 10.2% ABV triple IPA is dangerously smooth. Next up, Love and Hoppiness in Vermont. I drink this every time I see it. At 5.1% ABV, this could be a daily hazy for me. Then off to a new one for me, Darkness, Imprisoning Me. Holy hell, this 13.3% ABV Russin Imperial Stout is insanely good.  With an Untappd rating of 4.21, I don’t think I’m the only one who is loving this beer. Lastly, a palette cleanser with Left Eye, Right Eye. It’s just a 9.5% DIPA that is damn good.

#004 – Fieldwork Brewing (Sacramento Tasting Room) January’s stops ended here. I’m a big fan, but I left with mixed reviews today. My flight included Island Time, a fruited sour. Ill-Gotten Grains, a Gose was next up. Stream of Coffee, an English mild. Then to Coffee Town, a Brown Ale.  Finishing up with Sniff Test Bru 1, IPA. I really like Fieldwork, but I was disappointed. The coffee beers didn’t pop with coffee. The IPA didn’t taste up to par with Fieldwork’s IPAs I’m used to. My favorite today was the Gose.  Although it wasn’t a great day for me, I will be back (probably soon).

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February is off to a great start. More Sacramento area breweries, a trip to Vegas and followed up with a trip to Paso Robles. This month might get me back on track.

When Are There Too Many Breweries?

Is having a brewery in every neighborhood good, if they are just producing average beer?

I absolutely love the fact that it’s really easy to find a brewery just about anywhere in California. It’s also pretty damn easy to find one when traveling. But are they any good? Are they really needed?

Fine, I’m guilty! I love trying new breweries. In fact, I’ve had a running goal of visiting 100 individual breweries for each the last 3 years. The goal (mostly) accomplished. But how many were truly memorable? How many are worth a second visit? Sadly, too many are just fine. Not flawed, but not exciting either.

So, back to the question? Do we really need a bunch of average breweries for the sake of having a lot of breweries? I’m starting to think not. Now, if your idea of a brewery in every neighborhood is more about having a local place to meet, drink and make friends… or a bar, fine. But now you have a bar with a super limited selection. While a brewery can be a fairly decent bar, I think real bars do BARS better.

If you walk into a brewery, sample a few beers and think “they didn’t suck”, is that good enough. Is that good enough to not give those beer dollars to a brewery you really enjoy? Not to mention time and effort lost on ho hum beer.

I really feel 2018 is going to be the year we start to see morebreweries close. And unfortunately, not all the closures will be bad breweries. Just look at the Oregon brewery The Commons. A highly regarded brewery with an average Untappd rating of 3.8 closed. Modern Times is taking over the facility. Beer consumption is down, I know, it’s hard to believe. If that trend continues, along with adding new breweries, beer dollars are going to be spread pretty thin.

If you care about well crafted beer, you need to support the breweries that are producing it. And, stop worrying about who owns what and if they are a social media darling. If your favorite spot is not cutting it, maybe it’s time you need to drop a few hints.

This doesn’t mean, no new breweries. This means new breweries need to step up. High quality and innovative beers needs to be the normal right out of the gate.

Cheers to great beer and the fans that support it.

Random Openings 004

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Random Openings 004

Firestone Walker – Barrelworks
2015 La Piccola Virtuosa Dark Wild Saison
Bottled 3/5/15
6.2 ABV

Color – Deep ruby with brown highlights.
Aroma – Fruity sweet with some cherry, orange, oak, and funk.
Flavor – Tart with some stonefruit & cherry, lots of oak and as it warmed a bit of orange started to come in.

More Random Thoughts – Had this beer upon completion of my final homebrew for 2016. First off, the head dissipated really quite fast, but there was still a good amount of carbonation. I started drinking it right out of the fridge, which I liked the best.  Very refreshing at that temp. I also let the last few ounces come to room temperature. When warmed a bit, the fruit character was gone, the flavors were a bit muddled and it was not as enjoyable for me. The bottle description states cinnamon, clove, tangerine, and vanilla on the aroma. I got none of those, but the bottle is almost two years old.

All in all, this beer was very good. I think I should have drunk it a little sooner to enjoy more of the aromas, but no complaints.

Side Note – This beer was a collaboration with Agostino Arioli, owner/brewer of Birrificio Italiano and was released at the Firestone Walker Invitational in 2015.

Cheers!

If You Homebrew, You Need A Post Brew Day Beer!

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Did someone say IPA!

I don’t always need a reason to hit up a local brewery, but I had a homebrew session planned and wanted to pick up a “To Go” can of a beer to end my brew day.

Kings Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga was my choice.

Southern California is a hot bed for new breweries, and the IE is no exception. No brewery I have found of late is doing as much with IPAs and hop forward beers as Kings Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga.

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Kings Brewing is located in a generic business park, like so many new breweries. They brew on a 6 bbl system and had an impressive 24 beers on tap on my last visit, with a promise of 2 more in the coming days. From of the 24 beers, 10 were either IPAs or DIPAs. The 6 beers I sampled this day covered the IPA style guidelines. From the P-Town Prince IPA, a West Coast IPA true to form. Major bitterness, crisp and finished extremely dry. A great example of what defines the West Coast IPA. To Juice Bomb a 6.7 ABV Vermont style IPA that was both juicy (by name) and cloudy. From my experience, Kings Juice Bomb was just a tad more bitter than it’s North/Eastern US counterparts.

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Whatever your go-to IPA style is, Kings brews it; hop forward – malt forward – big bitterness – heavy dry hopping. They even have a green tinged IPA named Game Changer, they choose not to share their secret ingredient.

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With the heavy IPA tap list you might think these guys were a one beer style brewery, but this is far from correct. One of the of the best beers I sampled was their Kings Brunch Stout. A 6% ABV Oatmeal Stout that had a massive chocolate milk in both flavor and aroma, but not overly sweet, very well done.

Over the past few months I’ve visited Kings Brewing 3 times, and each time impressed with the selection and quality of the beer.  The staff behind the bar is also great, friendly and provides quick service.

While Kings tap list is impressive right now, they got barrels. I don’t know the details, but from what I understand Kings will be rolling out barrel aged beers, both sour and bourbon.  Something to look forward to for sure.

Kings Brewing
8560 Vineyard Ave. #301
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

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