Well, I’ve taken yet another hiatus from blogging beers. I currently have the next nine days off so I should be able to at the very least finish off the beers from my California trip this summer. The next up on the sampler tray is the Pliny the Elder. At 8% it’s quite the hefty brew, though it’s younger half, Pliny the Younger, rings in at 11%. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the younger available to do a taste comparison.

Pliny the Elder pours a golden-yellow with a head that laces very well as you can see from the photo. The aroma is a hop explosion of pine, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Don’t get me wrong though, there are malts in this brew too. The sweet honey malts are also being picked out in the nose. The taste is extremely well-balanced, the pine, citrus and honey all co-mingle on the palate like a happy family. This well carbonated beer is an excellent example of how a high alcohol content IPA should be. I’d never know that this beer was 8% from just tasting it. Cheers to you Russian River!



The next stop on our journey was Russian River Brewing. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of it before but it came highly recommended by a several of my beer acquaintances. This brewery was founded in 1997 by Korbel Champagne Cellers. He then chose to hire on Vinnie Cilurzo as the Brewmaster. Just two short years later, at the Great American Beer Festival, they won “Small Brewing Company of the Year” and “Small Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year.” Three years later in ’02, Korbel decided to leave the beer business and sold the brewery to Vinnie and his wife, Natalie. Since then, they’ve moved the brewery to Santa Rosa, California, and have continued to be quite successful.

Now, for the beer, inside their establishment they have what they call a sample paddle. The idea is quite common but their presentation was very cool. The two ounce shots were lined up down the paddle in a proper tasting order with some of the slotted spots having the particular beers cap next to the slot. I highly recommend this to anyone whom might visit. Now, there was honestly too much for my palate to review properly, so I picked out a few to blog about and made notes on those. The first of which being their Blind Pig IPA.

This bad boy is crystal clear, honey yellow coloring. With a small taster there isn’t much room for head but there was a touch of white lacing on the edge of the glass as you can see. The aroma is thick with citrus hops. The taste is extreme, bitter orange zest, grapefruit and pineapple hops right up front with a hint of caramel playing in the background. The tail end is quite bitter and peppery with the hops. This is an amazingly, delicious example of an IPA!

6% IPA

Now, I’ve gone back and looked at my old post regarding Lost Brewery, and I realized that I was really slacking off with my first few beer blog posts. At some point I’ll have to go back and redo these tastings and make them worth sitting down to. In the mean time, let me give you a brief low down on the first Californian brewery I had the pleasure to try. The year was 1986 and Barbara Groom, a pharmacist at the time, and Wendy Pound, a family counselor, after years of experiment home brewing they began to ponder what it would take to open a Brewpub. After years of research, planning, visiting various pubs over in the UK they were ready to take the plunge and turn their dream into a reality. They started out buying an old building in 1989, renovated it thru the winter and in 1990 they were ready to open their doors to the public. Since then they’ve outgrown their original facilities and upgraded to a larger building. They are currently the 33rd largest brewer in the US shipping out to 22 states, 3 provinces, and Puerto Rico. In 2009 they beat their own record and produced 50,000 barrels and have plans on moving to brew in even greater quantities.

Now, for my third beer, I’ve chosen to have their Raspberry Brown. This beer has won two “Best in California” awards, and multiple golds, silvers and bronze to go alongside it. I honestly don’t know what it is about raspberries that just goes with beer. I’ve never meet a raspberry beer I didn’t find tasty and refreshing.

This brown pours a reddish-brown with a light cappuccino colored head. The aroma was thick with brown sugar and raspberry jam. There was also a light hint of chocolate and nuttiness. The initial taste was huge with initial sweet raspberry, this slowly faded away leaving room for the chocolate and nutty malts to play on the palate. This brown is quite smooth and has a low carbonation to it. I quite enjoyed this, but if sweeter beers aren’t your thing I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying a flat.

5% Brown

My second choice was to tryout Lost Coast’s Alleycat Amber. I have spotted it on the rare occasion in Alberta, but few and far between. So, I thought to myself, when better to give this a try then right from the brewery.

This Alleycat pours out a reddish bronze color with a finger of off white head. The head seems quite thick with decent retention and leaves some lacing along the edges of the glass. The aroma wafts with a roasted caramel malt hint with a very subtle hop undertone. The flavoring is extremely well-balanced in my opinion. Initially the caramel malts dominate the flavors but the subtle bitter and citrus hops soon swoop in to balance out the flavors. The carbonation was most certainly noticeable in the beer, but it wasn’t as prominent as I would have thought with the head that came during the pouring.

5.5% Amber

The next stop on our brewery road trip was Lost Coast Brewery. Located in Eureka, California, this is where we chose to hold up for the night. The first drink I chose to have for the night was the Indiga IPA. I do remember seeing it from time to time of shelves here in Calgary. For some reason though I’ve never reached out and picked it up. I figured this was as good a time as any to give it a taste.

Once my beer arrived at the table I could see that is was crystal clear amber copper with a thin flat white head. The aroma is filled with orange citrus and pine hops. This is an excellent tasting IPA, with orange, grapefruit and pine hops taking the forefront. The taste is actually quite a bit more complex than the smell leads one to believe. The texture is creamy and clean and this is very refreshing.

6.5% IPA

North Coast Brewing: PranQster

Posted: November 2, 2011 in California, Fresh, Tap, U.S.A.

The last beer I enjoyed at North Coast was their Strong Belgian Pale which they have called PranQster. Yes, they themselves capitalize the Q and it is not an error on my part. In this Belgian they’ve continued the tradition of mixing cultures of antique style yeast strains. This usually results in an aromatic floral nose, fruity flavoring and a crisp, clean finish. Alright, enough talk, let’s get to the tasting notes.

From the tap this Belgian Strong Pale pours a foggy copper color with a flat white head. There is a light floral aroma mingling with traditional banana esters which is quite pleasant. The taste follows the aroma with a few additions. There is definitely traces of coriander from the brewing process and citrus hints through out. The higher rating of alcohol is perfectly subdued by flavors. The only way you can tell it’s a higher alcohol content is the warming in your belly. Very well done in my opinion.

7.6% Belgian Pale

Alright, now that Halloween is wrapped up, I can now get back to doing some beer reviews. This is part two of my review on the Red Seal Ale by North Coast Brewing. The second try is a casked version which was hand pumped from an English beer engine.

The cask has a clear, amber coloring. The head, which you can’t see in the photo because I foolishly didn’t snap up all the pictures right away, was thick, creamy white and really very dense. There was some sweet malt aromas with a light touch of a citrus hoppy scent. The taste seemed maltier and less hoppy than the kegged version. Thick with caramel and honey, there seemed to be only hints of a grassy and citrus hops that were in the other version. The unusual soapy taste did not pop up in this tasting so I’m going to guess that there was just a soapy residue in the glass from being washed. Also something of note, even with the thick white head, the beer wasn’t heavily carbonated. From this tasting I’d gladly have this beer again.

5.5% Amber