Tag Archives: Saison

Fairfax Brewfest

17 Mar

This weekend I had the divine pleasure of visiting my friend Bonnie in Fairfax. She and her husband have created a truly bountiful homestead tucked into the Marin hills and every time I visit I’m tempted to move. The town of Fairfax sits in kind of a valley so from Bonnie’s back porch you can look across to rolling hills and on Saturday morning hear the pop of a baseball bat from the fields below while sipping your tea.

I drove straight from work Friday night to join in on a potluck featuring broccoli! We had broccoli soup, broccoli fritters, even broccoli ice cream! (I forwent the broccoli and opted to bring a growler of Berryessa Pale Ale instead.)

Saturday was the Fairfax Brewfest. Bonnie won free tickets (thank you Facebook contest!) and we showed up at the doors just before 1:00pm. There was already a nice crowd waiting to get in.


After having attended the Capital Beer Fest two weeks ago with something like 90 breweries, our expectations weren’t super high for this event being held in an old gymnasium.


But man it got crowded fast!


And there were tons of great breweries there! Bonnie and I started by talking to the incredibly nice brewers of Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse in Berkeley. Apparently it’s American’s oldest brewpub. We both tried their Saison which was a bit different than other saison’s I’ve had – more “lemon-y” I thought.


I was also super excited to see Speakeasy there because 1) I just love the name; 2) I had one of their beers at the Beer Shoppe and loved it….but can’t remember what it was; and 3) I keep seeing their beer at the store and wanting to try it. I went with the Payback Porter which was good, but kind of “burnt” tasting at the end.


One fun addition to this brewfest was the “Taste ‘Em & Rate ‘Em” booth.


Six different beers were on display and you did a blind taste test and then voted for your two favorites. I have no idea who won, but it was fun to compare beers of the same style.


Another favorite of mine was Napa Smith. They had several beers to taste but my favorite by far was their “Cool Brew.” Bonnie and I took a vote and Napa Smith won out of all the breweries there. I think this will be the next place I go and visit!IMG_8014

The Beach Chalet was also a favorite. (Look at the cute fabric!)


I had the Oat Pale Ale and really enjoyed it; Bonnie liked her Monsoon Mild.


And of course we had to go by Fairfax’s own Iron Springs.


I may have overindulged a bit this time, but it was a most excellent brewfest and excellent weekend. Cheers!



Capital Beer Fest & Sacramento Beer Week

3 Mar

It’s been about six months since I stopped seeing the man that introduced me to good beer. And about five months and three weeks since I was really sorry that we stopped dating. His house was two blocks from one of the main Beer Week venues. Last year he told me he was taking vacation days during Beer Week and I thought that was a little crazy. Now I’m trying to decide if I can justify taking time off work next year. And if I can convince my friend Bonnie to takes days off, too. And who would let us stay with them across the Causeway in Sacramento proper for the week. Or how much a hotel would cost for seven nights. Sigh.

IMG_7860Tuesday night I was crazy hungry after work so instead of going to an “official” beer week event, took myself to Thai food. The Thai place actually has a decent selection of beers on tap, one of which was Ninkasi Brewing Co.’s Total Domination IPA. Ninkasi must have just started distributing in the greater Sacramento area because they are everywhere right now. I had actually stopped at the brewery in Eugene, Oregon last summer on a road trip and totally loved their Otis Oatmeal Stout. The IPA was a bit bitter for me to completely love (I told you, I’m still working up to my IPAs) but I enjoyed the pint and the pairing.

Wednesday night I decided I had to go to the New Belgium night at the Davis Beer Shoppe. They were at capacity so I had to wait to get in but it was worth it. They had 14 New Belgium beers on tap – I probably tried about half thanks to the nice guys working. Plus, I got to keep the glass!


What I remember of my favorites:

  • New Belgium Trippel – this I already knew I was a fan of; I had tried it before and drank it while making my quiche awhile back
  • New Belgium/Dieu Du Ciel Heavenly Fiejoa – one of two farmhouse-like ales on tap; I got a pint of this and really enjoyed the first half – towards the end it got a bit sour for me
  • New Belgium/Vivant Bierre de Garde – good but when I tasted, prefered the Heavenly Fiejoa
  • New Belgium Dig – a very nice pale ale; I want to get again just to drink at home
  • New Belgium Rampant DIPA – too bitter for me but I guessed that from the beginning
  • New Belgium Abbey – I wasn’t a fan; I’ve tried a fair number of Belgium abbey ales recently and in general I don’t like the style
  • New Belgium Hoppy Bock – this was the last beer I tried just as I was getting ready to go and it made me sad – I wish  had tried it earlier! It was smooth and easy to sip with the citrus-hoppy-loveliness and not too much bitter; hopefully I’ll get to taste it again soon!


Thursday night I convinced my sister and brother-in-law to go to an event in Sacramento. The sister chose food and a North Coast tasting at Magpie Cafe. The food was soooo good and the beer delicious. As a little sister should though, I completely mortified my sister taking pictures of the beer.


My brother-in-law and I shared the tasting and got to try:

  • Blue Star Wheat – an excellent and very drinkable wheat beer; I’m ready for several pool-side this summer
  • Le Merle Saison – a good saison; I enjoyed it but I don’t think it was super distinctive among other saisons
  • Brother Thelonious Abbey Ale – I actually liked this Abbey Ale in small amounts; this is a well known Abbey Ale for those who are just starting to taste
  • Old Stock, 2013 – Brian (the brother-in-law) said it tasted like rotten cantaloupe; not an overwhelming endorsement but I drank the rest of it so it was good enough; I just read about it on North Coast’s website and its suppose to be aged, which would be interesting
  • Old Rasputin Imperial Stout – a good stout (and another well known beer); its a little syrupy for me to be overly enthusiastic about but I did like it

Friday night I biked over again to my local grocery store where they were tasting two breweries: Deschutes and Boulevard.   Deschutes makes good, solid beers. Delicious and easy to drink. Boulevard Brewing is out of Kanas City and makes some more complex, interesting beers. They’re also something like the 10th largest brewer by volume. I got to try four of their beers:

  • Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale – yay! I actually have a bottle of this and now I’m even more stoked to open it; it was a really refreshing and crisp farmhouse ale
  • A beer here that now I can’t remember….but it was really good!
  • The Sixth Glass Quad – I wasn’t sure I would like it but for being over 10% it was smooth and (too) easy to drink
  • Dark Truth Stout – good chocolate-y flavors with a little bit, but not too much, roasty-ness

This post is already forever long and I haven’t even talked about Capital Beer Fest yet so I’m going to just do that mostly in pictures, although I only took a few. It was a great event! It felt a bit too crowded at first but after a few tastings I was great!

The line into the facility was HUGE! (This continued to curve around and go on for twice as long as you can see.)


So were the crowds inside.


The lovely ladies who went with me: Jess, Melissa, and Bonnie.


I liked something at Six Rivers Brewery because I took a picture of it.


And at Old Hangtown Brew Works.


Knee Deep & Track 7 did a Belgium IPA collaboration that was really good!


Goose Island! Good beers, very generous pours, and fun tap handles!


I liked something at Western Pacific Brewing & Dining, too!


Already I’m looking forward to next year’s Beer Week but for this upcoming week, I don’t think I’ll be drinking too much!

Recent Beers

18 Feb

I realized looking back over my posts that anyone else who was reading this (and really, I’m basically the only one) would think that I didn’t actually try all that many beers. But it’s almost a compulsion now to stop at the beer aisle anytime I’m at the grocery store to see what catches my eye.

Now, I’m never going to be a great writer of beer tastes. I was reading a book last night and the author described one beer as tasting of wet towel. I mean, really?? Who actually tastes beer and thinks that? Or I use to drink beer with this guy and he often said “Do you taste the stone fruit?” Or “I can almost taste a hint of prune.” Who eats prunes!?

So, I’m sorry that my evaluations are not going to be full of insightful tasting notes. Mostly whether or not I thought it was delicious and if I would drink it again. Hopefully it brings a new beer to someone else’s attention.

IMG_7615  The first beer I drank post February beer dinner was Witopia by Triple Voodoo Brewing Co. in San Francisco. It’s a Belgium Wit beer and I loved it! It was deliciously carbonated and super refreshing. I think I was super impressed, too, because I had been drinking so many brown and ESB beers previously so this was a great change of pace. A few days later I also tried Triple Voodoo’s Inception Belgium Style Ale which I was less impressed with – a little too funky for me.

IMG_7618I’ve also started looking for a Pale Ale or IPA to serve at April’s beer dinner. It needs to be a rather balanced, not too bitter, IPA, though, because most of the guests who come haven’t built themselves up to IPAs yet. And honestly, I’m just barely inching my way there. I got two pale ales to try. First, Gold Digger IPA by Auburn Alehouse. This beer I liked a lot. It wasn’t too hoppy and had a nice floral scent. The Auburn Alehouse isn’t too far from me and I’m looking forward to going back up there and trying a few more of their beers.

IMG_7712I also tried Mojo India Pale Ale by Boulder Brewing Co. Not my fav. It was a little too bitter on the finish for me. Weirdly, it mellowed out and was a good pairing with the lasagna I was eating, but its not going to become a go-to beer for me.

So far, my actual favorite potential April beer dinner beer was Sweetgrass American Pale Ale by Grand Teton Brewing Co. It had the floral delicious hop smell and just enough bitterness. The nice guy at Whole Foods helped me pick it out and I’ll be going back for more.

IMG_7707Another recent find was Honey Saison by Almanac Beer Co. Almanac features seasonal brews using local fruit, etc. I don’t know how I hadn’t tried this beer before because I love saisons. The beer was super mild with just a bit of honey sweetness – really easy to drink. Plus, their bottles are super cute (see, that’s the kind of beer reviewer I am). A few days before I had also tried another honey beer – Bison Organic Honey Basil Ale. It was so good and refreshing! I’m excited to have these beer again on the patio with the sunshine beating down!

IMG_7708Hopefully I’ve peaked your interests in a few new beers to try. Is there a favorite of yours I should put on my list?