Bay Area Beer Guide

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If you guys haven’t been following me on Instagram, you definitely should be; over the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to head down to the Bay Area every few weeks to see my boyfriend, find the most perfect donut and, of course, check out local breweries around town.

These spontaneous trips to San Francisco & Santa Rosa, as well as him flying to Seattle to surprise me (that’s an entirely different mushy and perfect story), has taught me a lot about myself.

The beer world has taught me to get up and go, have fun and absolutely love what I’m doing. Isn’t life too short to be miserable and living day to day? Yeah, I thought so too. I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone by talking to random beertenders, owners & sales guys all while pretending my social anxiety isn’t through the roof, social media has been an amazing way to network with other beer lovers and inspired even more trips as well!

My last trip to The Bay involved half a day running around SF, buying plants, checking out Land’s End with the dude and donuts- because we would be insane to not visit every single donut shop around town. We headed up north after that for a few days and got to check out Santa Rosa, Windsor & Petaluma, work on my sunburn and take my very first motorcycle ride (well, of my adult life and I didn’t even die that much!).

Maybe it’s the sun’s fault, but the beer vibe in these cities definitely feels completely different (and I love it). Especially in San Francisco where the neighborhoods are drastically different from one another yet so close, each beer bar and brewery encompasses a completely different atmosphere.

While I still have so much more to explore around The North Bay, here are a few stops you definitely need to make it to:

One of my favorite stops is Fieldwork Brewing Co. in Berkley; while it’s about 30 minutes from the city, it’s a great spot to hang out, grab some beers and snack on some tasty food. They are super IPA forward but usually have at least one stout, some farmhouse/sour ale and lighter brews as well! While they do make those hazy IPAs we’re all obsessed with right now, they do an amazing job at bringing a little bit of a bitter bite to the IPAs I’ve gotten my hands on. In a rush? No worries- they offer crowlers to go and also crowlers of things they don’t have on tap! Aside from their Berkley location, they’re also in San Mateo, Napa & Sacramento… so you have no excuse to not drink all the things. Oh, they also have the prettiest most bad ass labels for their cans!

Also in Berkley is The Rare Barrel; this all-sour brewery offers a kick-ass selection of sours on tap and bottles you can find at their tap room and around town. They keep about 5-10 of their own beers on tap as well as 4-6 guest beers on tap- so if you aren’t a crazy sour fan… don’t worry!! You have options! But if you’re in town and looking for a killer oak-aged sour beer (everything they do is oak aged), definitely check them out! And just look at that comfy couch. How do you not want to drink beer sitting on that guy?

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Trying to find some bottles/cans or just a tasty pint of beer? City Beer Store in the South of Market District has a great selection of local and not-so-local beers you can take with yah or you can hang out and enjoy one- er, or five of their 15 rotating taps! Loved this place a lot, and made it there at least once every trip I’ve made to the city; always super friendly staff and a really awesome vibe to the space! Their beer to go was also pretty damn fantastic. Feel free to mix & match a 6-pack, grab a limited bottle or, like me, buy everything. Seriously- this spot is worth checking out!

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Right around the corner from City Beer Store you’ll find Cellarmaker Brewing Co.; not only was this a great space, they also have a wide array of tasty things on tap. I had a few IPAs but really loved the Cigarettes & Coffee stout the most! Definitely worth the stop-in. We went during a Golden State game and the atmosphere was pretty awesome- but I’m sure it’s a bit more chill out of basketball season!

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Heading a little SE for about a mile and a half you’ll run in to The Crafty Fox Ale House. Dustin was actually the one to find this little gem when he was hunting down some Alvarado Street Brewing for me; with 36 taps (maybe more.. counting is hard) offering tons of California goodness and nationally sourced, you’ll find something you might already love or a new beer to try! They also offer a small selection of cans and bottles to go or drink on the spot (with a $1 corkage).

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Seriously, everything is so close together in this city! We also went over to Monk’s Kettle, which is just a few blocks from Crafty Fox, where they had a pretty impressive tap list and a DAMN good burger. If you’re in to macaroni then you have to get it with lobster and it will literally change your life. I’m not even joking. There tap list offers a wide variety of California beers but also gems from around the world. It’s a bit more intimate of a spot but they also offer outdoor seating!

The Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Co. is worthing checking out if you’re around the Dogpatch neighborhood; with an impressive list of beers, cocktails and barbecue, you’ll probably never leave! While I’m usually an IPA fan, I was really digging their darker beers. They offer tons of different barbecue goodness; we stuck with a pulled pork sandwich with a side of macaroni. Because we aren’t insane. Enjoy a beer in their main bar area or venture out to their barrelhouse.

One of our last stops for the city (for now) is Almanac Beer south of the Mission District. I’ve been a fan of Almanac but, and I say this with regret, they weren’t on our initial beer list. We were on a donut hunt, as we usually are, and I of course spot out the one beer spot in the neighborhood: this place. They constantly rotate 15 taps of their brews along with draft wine and cider for those non-beer drinkers. We didn’t get to try the food (yeah.. we were stuffed with donuts) but it looked incredible and changes seasonally. Don’t forget to snag some bottles or a growler on your way out!

We finally made it to Russian River Brewing Co. over the 4th of July weekend and… when I die, bury me there. When we went they had 21 beers on tap and all of the amazing food- yeah, you know I love my pizza and it was so so good!! My favorite part about the beer world is the beer friends you end up meeting along the way! I’ve follow Mikaelaa for over a year and she’s definitely been one of my beerspirations (that’s a word, right?) with not only beer, but fitness and adventures. Seriously, you all should follow her on Instagram here. While I’ve had a few Russian River brews, she insisted we try the sampler and ooooohh my lanta. LOOK AT IT! Needless to say, you need to check this place out and it’s worth it to wait in the line to get in. So make sure to show up early and bring the sunscreen, but you won’t regret it!

Aside from all the beer spots, we came across a whole bunch of amazing food that… let’s just say I’m going to be in the gym for a few weeks.

Make sure to check out Twisted Donuts, Dynamo Donuts, The Grove in Fillmore, Il Casaro Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar in Little Italy for some of the best Italian pizza & you of course gotta go to In n’ Out!

I mean.. just look at all the tasty things!

 

 

Did I miss something or need to check out a spot my next trip? Let me know what we need to visit! Whether that’s beer, food, outdoor activities ect. Holler at me!

 

Cheers & happy drinking Xx

Supporting Local Brews

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I love beer fests. Seeing brewers, owners and other staff just being completely jacked about their beer and seeing everyone being equally excited about drinking that beer is just way too awesome. But it also gives me this sense of urgency to really support those smaller breweries hiding out at these festivals and to really explore new beer things to fall in love with.

In the wake of Wicked Weed Brewing being bought up, Lagunitas’ full buy out by Heineken, and our access to hops being hindered, it’s been pretty interesting watching how people adjust, protest and shut down Big Beer.

The Big Bad Wolf who is Anheuser-Busch seems to be going after all our beloved beers, and now even our hops. Sure, businesses open to bring in revenue and, of course, they want to keep that train rolling. But when and how do they stop caring about the beer and start caring about how deep their pockets will get? Wicked Weed might have been one of the most controversial (in my SUPER professional opinion); they made damn good beer and had four successful locations around North Carolina and had collabs with some of the best.

You’re probably thinking, “why the hell is she bringing this up now??”- Well, now is the time to support your local breweries. I think Jester King Brewing did an amazing job explaining Big Beer and why they won’t support them; breweries under AB inBev might still make some good brews (okay, let me know if this is true… because I’m not sure), but the money that this big corporation brings in is used to hurt craft breweries (read the full press release from Jester King here).

While I’m so thankful for every beer opportunity I have been given, loved every owner, brewer, beertender, sales guy and supportive manager I have crossed paths with, it’s also taught me a lot about the ambitions and intentions of this industry.

I love all beer things- hopefully you know that by now… I’ve worked with people who absolutely want to share their beer passions with people… and also those people who only care about the $$$ and not about the consumer or even the people who work for them. And honestly, that breaks my heart! As I pointed out before, the point of a business is to bring in money (in some people’s opinions…), but it just sucks when someone almost takes advantage of an industry just to bring in the dough?

Let me clear a thing or two up; I don’t completely despise those who are in the business just for money, but I kind of get super bummed when breweries fully sell out to huge conglomerates like AB InBev. AB is known for being dicey and quick to try and nip craft beer in the bud… or whatever. Distributers have the option to renegotiate distribution ‘laws’, and for big macro breweries who have a bit more of a say (whether that’s money or something else), they can help sway a distributor to choose that macro brewery over a smaller brewery- leaving the little guys with not a lot of choices.

Also, local breweries like to support local companies! How great is it when breweries use hops from local farmers or get their supplies from a local shop? It’s pretty damn awesome to see the community supporting eachother and putting that energy, focus and love back into it!

Alright. Maybe I just needed a minute to bitch, and thank you if you made it this far. I guess what I want people to take out of this, or think about, is those breweries who live for their patrons; the breweries who stepped away from the big guys to follow their passion (Uhhem- Cloudburst’s Steve Luke leaving Elysian because of personal beliefs. You the real MVP).

Plus- small breweries (generally) make even more delicious beers. So use your power. Stand up for better beer.

 

Cheers Xx

Melvin Comes to Washington

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I discovered Melvin Brewing Co.‘s beer a little over a year ago and was immediately blown away. Way back then, you could find it at a few places on tap- and that was literally it. Today, you can find their cans all around town and sip on their tasty brews on tap at a lot of those locations too!

Well, as some of you know, co-founder Jeremy Tofte actually grew up in the Pacific Northwest and left the PNW to explore more, snowboard, surfing and an even deeper obsession with craft beer.

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This has been a long time coming (I mean, just look at how happy I am drinking a can of Melvin?)… but Melvin is finally opening their doors in Bellingham on June 3rd! That’s. Right. Just TWO days away!

What can you expect from this Kung Fu lovin’ brewery? There will be 20 taps including some rotating guest taps, glasses & bottles of wine from local and regionally delicious wineries, an American Brew Pub menu including Pacific Northwest inspired items as well as featured items from their Thai Me Up restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and a pretty awesome happy hour every day.

If you haven’t experienced Melvin beer before you 1) can still fix the mistake of missing out all this time & 2) have the perfect excuse to road trip up to Bellingham. Known for their huge hop forward beers and pretty kick ass names, you won’t regret.

Wait– does this mean I’m moving to Bellingham? Because I’m pretty sure they’ve got it all going on right now.

So make sure to stop on in on Saturday, drink a beer or ten for me (responsibly) and help welcome Melvin to the PNW! They’ll be open 5p.m.-11p.m. and the beers will be a’flowing! Driving up from Seattle? No problem, Bellingham has some damn fine AirBnB’s too!

 

Cheers Xx

 

UPDATE: 

Opening Date:

June 3, 2017

Hours of Operation:

4:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. seven days a week

Operating Brewery: Holiday Season 2017

Check out the full press release here:

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Hopped Up Lupulin Powder

 

There’s no secret that many breweries use dry hopping in their IPAs; whether they want to bring out more hop aroma or more stone fruit/ floral characteristics, it’s a very common practice among home brewers and craft breweries alike.

So what is dry hopping? After the fermentation or kegging of the beer, hops are added, either in leaf form or pellets, and that allows the beer to really soak in all the flavors of the hop themselves. Dry hopping doesn’t add any bitterness to an IPA (generally), but it can also lose that aromatic oil during the boiling processes.

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Hop fields of Bale Breaker Brewing

Something else has been hitting the market lately and, frankly, it’s changing the dry hop game all together.

Breweries around the country are experimenting with Lupulin Hop Powder for dry hopping and it’s absolutely delicious. Lupulin is the little yellow pods inside of the hop cone that really hold all the flavor and aromas. While hop pellets are just powdered Lupulin, they still have to go through an intense process to actually form them… and that tends to bring out some of those bitter elements in hops. Dry hopping with pellets has a higher likelihood of adding bitterness and metallic-like flavors compared to this lovely little powder!

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Lupulin inside of a fresh hop

This powder can also help to produce more beer. I know, it sounds a bit nutty… just hear me out! Without the powder, more beer is absorbed by the hop and can’t be salvaged during the dry hopping stage; so, in turn, using a powder that just dissolves into the beer helps to eliminate that unwanted waste! Yep! That means we get to drink more…

Of course there are drawbacks to using powder; some brewers have experienced a less-than-desired hop flavor (lacking flavor.. or whatever), while the aroma was through the roof delicious. While we still figure out this hop powder business, it seems like a lot of brewers are experimenting with 30%-50% powder and the rest with the pellets. Compromise, right?!

While beers brewed with this powder are just up-and-coming, definitely keep a look out for them! I remember having one from a Washington brewery a few weeks ago (blanking on the name) and it was definitely something way tasty!

 

Cheers Xx

Flying Bike Cooperative Brewing Celebrates IPApril

Is it just me or is this winter last forever and ever? Seriously. We had, what, 40 straight days of rain? I know- we live in Seattle and should be used to the rain.. but sometimes you just need some damn sun! And I know for a fact I’m not the only one walking around with a depressing little grey cloud above my head.

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So how are we going to jump (hopefully) into Spring? Well, with some celebrating of course!

 I love any excuse to celebrate beer. Stout month? Okay. A special release? Don’t mind if I do! But we’re talking about some next level celebrating here.

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For the month of April, Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery will be throwing down some seriously delicious IPAS to chase those blues away. Every Tuesday in IPApril, Flying Bike will be releasing a new IPA to send your taste buds on a delicious adventure.

As I’ve told you guys before about Flying Bike, they are member operated and ran, so these tasty beers are hand-crafted, selected and brewed by your neighbors!

These four beers include a limited Endo Triple IPA aged on rye oak chips, a Lavender IPA Redux which has been aged on dry lavender (personally one of my favorites from them), Tropical Heat IPA infusing their flagship IPA with pineapple, mango and chilies and The Rill Dill IPA which utilizes Sorachi Ace and Mosaic hops combing it with fresh dill, garlic cloves and some chilies.

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I’m not sure about you, but these beers sound damn tasty! Read the full press release below and see yah there!

 Cheers Xx

 

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What’s With All This Haze?

To say things have been crazy lately might be a complete understatement! Between working full-time at The Beer Junction in West Seattle, I’ve also picked up a second job at a startup in Pioneer Square.

I’m curious to see when my body is just going to straight throw in the towel and give up on me. I also just dyed my hair dark, so is this what a quarter-life crisis feels like??

That’s not to say I haven’t been drinking all the beers- oh man have I. I was chatting with one of my beer  friends the other day about how it’s kind of ironic that those who work the most, and in the industry, probably drink the most too.

You try and work in the service industry for 10 hours in one day and NOT want to drink everything… I dare you! (okay.. I love you beer people. Don’t take that personally!)

Part of this over-consumption of deliciousness is this whole New England/Vermont/East Coast/Smoothie/Milkshake IPA (whatever the hell you want to call it). Yeah, yeah. I’m sure you’ve all had one but they are seriously amazing. Breweries like Three Magnets, Matchless & Cloudburst as well as Modern Times Beer, out of California, (which just started distributing outside of California) have jumped on this tasty train and I’m not even mad.

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Photo By: Mark B. Bauschke

So what exactly is this style of IPA? Living in the Pacific Northwest means we are in the center of hop country; while hops are used regardless, this “new” (to us West Coasters) style focuses on the flavor of the hop, and not the bitterness we’re all used to.

We’ve been trained to adore and trust those crystal clear beers, but this style will throw you for a loop if you have no idea about them. These IPAs pour purposefully hazy and cloudy, which ends up giving them a smoother (eh hem, smoothie anyone?) mouthfeel. While most IPAs are clear as day, the NE IPA can include flaked oats to really give off that milky aspect, and also add to the mouthfeel. Most have little to moderate bitterness and really utilize and highlight tropical flavor in the hops.

This style of IPA is a bit more popular just for the fact that the hops aren’t trying to murder you with that dank bitterness. Instead of boiling with the hops, they are more often used during the dry-hopping stage just to extract the juicy, smoothie, floral tastes. We know that a lot of breweries around town use Citra and Mosaic, but these hops are also really f*cking tasty too! The most common strains found in this style of IPA are Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy (GD yum), Amarillo and El Dorado.

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Photo By: Mark B. Baushke

 

Okay but what makes them hazy?

Alright- there’s also this big debate that this style of beer isn’t even really a thing. And I’m here to tell you to earmuff and drink all of them anyways! I’ve gone back and forth with bitter IPAs and whether or not I want them to punch my delicate little taste buds, but this “style” or whatever you want to call it is giving me some serious hope. Maybe it goes along with my love for sweet things, but the bolder, more fruit forward beers have stolen my heart.

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Photo By: Mark B. Bauschke

Recently we went and checked out Seapine Brewing Co. in Sodo and got our hands some pretty stellar beers- one of those is their Positron IPA. Now, this isn’t straight-up a New England/whatever IPA, at least not from Seapine’s claim, but is pretty much what all the breweries around town are trying to accomplish. This IPA utilizes Galaxy hops which has a mild to moderate bitterness but adds that juicy passionfruit and citrus in to the mix. If you’re looking for that “smoothie” style of IPA, this guy is definitely going to be the one for you. With a bit more of a creamy mouth feel, it’s too damn smooth and fruit filled to not love. I mean, just look at that gorgeous dark yellow/orange?! I’m telling you.. you need to get your paws on this.

While the debate goes back and forth, and I’m sure many people will hate me for even addressing this style, a beer is a beer and and I know when I’ve found one I can’t live without. So if you like bitterness, maybe stay away, but they are definitely worth a try.

 

Cheers Xx

Flying Bike Co-Op Celebrates Stout Month

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It’s officially February- and thank god for that! Although the temperature in Seattle has been plummeting the last few days (I’m sorry, 34 degrees is WAY too cold), we’re slowly moving on to early spring beers! I’m pumped for beers such as ISAs, lighter IPAs and other special releases, but Flying Bike is really hitting home for me this month. That’s right. Stouts. All. Month. Long.

For the month of February, Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery will be hosting their 2nd Annual Stout Month. Every Tuesday this month, along with one Saturday, the brewery will be introducing a new stout to their taproom.

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They started this event yesterday by rereleasing their Razryadka Barrel Aged Stout that’s the very first of their bottle releases (circa early 2016)! This stout is rye whiskey aged and is sure to be damn tasty. While this was tapped yesterday, everything is released in 1/6bbl and is sure to go really fast! Definitely get down their as soon as you can before it’s too late!

*This beer is draft only

Next up they will be releasing a chocolate & coconut infused oatmeal stout AND it’s on nitro! If you have a slight addiction to chocolate like myself, this stout will literally taste like a mounds bar. Does it get any better than that? No. The answer is no.

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Okay, maybe I’m wrong. It gets much, much better! Have any plans for the dreadful V-Day? On February 14th these guys will be releasing a PB&J infused nitro oatmeal stout. I’m just saying- you could skip out on your dinner plans and just drink your dinner! The goal of this stout was to bring out that inner child in you and take you all the way back to those grade school days.

Following up the PB&J, on the 18th of February FBCB will be introducing a brand new stout; the Snarky Stout. This straight-ahead American Stout will be nothing short of delicious. We’re talking a 7% classic roasty & toasty, chocolatey masterpiece .

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Have you ever had a stout infused with mushrooms? Well, here’s your chance! for the 5th release, the adventurous brewers at Flying Bike have literally taken the brand-spankin’-new Snarky Stout and thrown in some mushrooms. Not too convinced? The mushrooms actually meld tastily with the stout and give a balance of minerality and smokiness; throw in a solid stout and this beer will be nothing but a winner.

Ending the month with the Razryadka back on draft, you’re not going to want to miss out on this stout month. If you aren’t familiar with Flying Bike and what they’re all about, this brewery is 100% co-op; every beer comes from a simple suggestion from one of their members from the community. That’s right. If you’re a member you too could create one of these masterpieces!

Below I’ll post their schedule of the release and what this whole membership thing is all about! Hope to see you guys there.

 

Cheers Xx

 

 

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*photos courtesy of the beer geniuses at Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery