7th Stop-Lagunitas Brewing Company

Our seventh stop was unanimously the favorite of our trip thus far. The reason was obvious: they gave us free beer.

The visit began with a tasting hosted by Don, who was also our tour guide. He started by saying he had no more Pils on tap but that he would "make up for it." He proceeded to pour us seven 4-ounce pours of various regular and seasonal beers.

We tasted their Dog Town Pale Ale (dry with lingering hop finish), IPA (hop body with tasty malt finish), Undercover Shutdown Ale (an imperial pale seasonal), Gnarleywine barleywine, Wilco Tango Foxtrot (a brown ale seasonal), Imperial Stout, and finally their Hop Stoopid. Several of these beers were 10% ABV or above; I think you get the point.

After the 40 minute tasting was over, Don, who had been drinking right alongside us, began our tour. He took us through the bottling and packaging line, into the main brewing room with the masher and mixing tanks, and outside where the fermenting tanks rise high above the brewery roof. It was an awesome tour for multiple reasons. The first I'll skip, but also because he was quite knowledgeable about the process, was honest and open about the difficulties they've had (a theme among the brewing community thus far), and let us stick our heads into the fermenting tanks, climb ladders, and drink reject fresh beer right off the bottling line.

We were really impressed with Lagunitas Brewing. They showed us the utmost hospitality and their beer is really good. We would recommend the experience to anyone.

That's Don.

Location:Petaluma, CA


6th Stop-Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery

After an afternoon spent checking out the streetfront made famous by the Full House show of the 90's and getting our second replacement iPhone of the trip at the SF Apple store (don't worry, both were under warranty), we made our way to Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery in the Haight and Ashbury neighborhood.

The space is quite European (according to Nate, the only one of our number who's been to Europe), with black leather-button booths, a community bar table, and several cask handles serving English style beer.

As for the beer, it was a contrast with the traditional microbreweries we have visited thus far, although admittedly the more West Coast style breweries are yet to come. Exemplifying the contrast was their Gruit style beer, which is brewed without hops. Instead, various herbs are used along with the malt base, giving the beer a wild floral character that made me happy I asked for only a taste.

Generally their beers were very good. They were decidedly malt forward and on the smoother side. With 3 cask beers alongside their impressive draught lineup, the brewery emphasized an English style that is rarely found in an American brewery west of the Mississippi.

One of their lighter beers (ABV 3.6%, IBU 22), Dark Star Mild, had a dark color but drinkable quality that reminded us of the "session" beer at Eagle Rock Brewery. Their pale and IPA were also very mild, with IBUs of 77 and 78 respectively. As noted by these numbers, they have decidedly more similar IBUs than most pale ale/IPA pairs at the other breweries on our tour. A nice reminder that hops aren't everything.

All in all, "unique" and quality beer at a busy gastropub with a great vibe.

In this video Nate pulls his first cask.

Location:Haight and Ashbury, San Francisco, CA


5th Stop-Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery

Our fifth stop was Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, one of 5 (soon to be 6) breweries in Santa Cruz. They are a small operation (1000 barrels/year). They consider their brewery a "labor of love," as they aren't in it for the money but rather good beer.

They specialize in organic beer and just yesterday planted an acre of hops on the property of a woman who feeds their mash remnants to her sheep (13 pounds per batch). They then sell the cheese products from these sheep in their tasting room.

Their beer was good. Again, fresh. We tried their organic IPA, one of their finer offerings. It had a clean body and light hop finish-very tastefully composed. We also tried their porter, brewed with organic free-trade coffee. It was also well done. Their brown was decent but unremarkable.

We also had a special edition witbier, the Witches Wit. It was brewed by the women of the brewery, with corriander, lemon, and St. John's Wort. It was quite mild and enjoyable.

One aspect of this brewery we truly appreciated was their honesty and openness. We learned of how they got their start, how they approach the process of beginning a new beer, and the ways in which they are looking to improve. We also got an impromptu tour of their 800 square foot brewing space. All in all, a very intimate stop.

Next up, San Francisco and Anchor Brewing.

Location:Swift Street, Santa Cruz, CA

Big Sur

We spent our second night at Plaskett Creek Campground. It was beautiful.

Location:Plaskett Creek, Los Padres National Forest, Ca


4th Stop-Firestone Walker Brewery

As promised, we stopped at the FWBC brewery and were treated to an impromptu tour.

It was the tourguide's first tour, but she did a fine job. In reality we interrupted so often she never had a chance to get in the flow.

Firestone uses a patented oak barrel fermentation system unique to them, at least in the US. They have also been increasing production in the past few years, up to 60,000 barrels last year (for some perspective Stone was at 90,000 and Sierra Nevada 5 times that). They are considered a "medium size" brewery.

We also learned a bit more of their history. Firestone is the family name (also responsible for Firestone Tires and Firestone Vineyards). A Firestone son teamed with a brother-in-law, David Walker, in 1996, and started the brewery. They actually ran into a lot of difficulty in the early years but invited head brewmaster Matt onboard soon after and have had success ever since, winning multiple awards in recent years.

We also met a friend at the brewery. Our second friend drop-by (the first was Jason's brother Jon at Eagle Eock). It was a nice stop.

After scoring a few palates for firewood and hitting up Trader Joe's for some dinner grub, we are off to Big Sur.

Location:S Vine St,Paso Robles,United States

3rd Stop-Firestone Walker Taproom and Restaurant

So apparently Firestone Walker Brewing Company, out of Paso Robles, has a restaurant in Buellton, about a half hour north of Santa Barbara. This is in addition to their tasting room in Paso, where their brewery is located. We first heard about this second location from Steve at Eagle Rock Brewery.

We were driving through Buellton headed to Paso, paying little attention, when Sergio saw the restaurant. We decided it had been at least two hours since our last meal so we stopped for some grub and beer.

Firestone specializes in pale ales, and they didn't disappoint. The hop aroma was present and pleasant. And something we have noticed at both breweries we have visited thus far, the beer is fresh. It is hard to describe, and whether or not it is true or just a product of our excitement, the beers seem to have a freshness they do not have in the bottle.

Lastly, Firestone was serving a Russian Imperial Stout called Parabola (think back to high school pre-algebra) that was excellent. More of a dessert beer, it had a strong burbon body with chocolate overtones. It was enjoyed in sips by all.

We were quite pleased with this stop. So much so, we may stop at the tasting room in Paso Robles for a second (or third) round.

Location:Buellton, CA, United States

Camping near Santa B

After calling around to campgrounds after dark and getting no response we did what any truck full of dudes and camping equipment would do; we drove around to different campsites until we found one that was open. I know, smart.

Our site was #115 at El Capitan State Beach. A fine site. Roomy enough for our "palace" and cardboard fire. We ate tacos for dinner and potaotes with kale for breakfast.

We are now on our way to Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Goleta,United States


2nd Stop-Eagle Rock Brewery

Improvising as we go, we decided to hit up Eagle Rock Brewery, a father-son joint, in place of our failed The Bruery attempt. Eagle Rock was on our list as a maybe for the way home.

Eagle Rock was inconspicuous from the outside; it was downright hard to find. No matter, we were in it for the beer.

We were greeted by Steve, the head brewmaster, who told us about their philosophy. "Beer for the people." They pride themselves on accessible beer, with three regular beers each highlighting a core ingredient: malt, hops, and yeast. All were very palatable.

All in all, a great second stop. And beer you can't get anywhere else, for now.

Location:Roswell St,Los Angeles,United States

1st stop-The Bruery Parking Lot

When we decided to take this brewery tour we didn't want to micromanage things. Translation: We didn't pay attention to the details.

So when we arrived at The Bruery, two hours before they opened but right on time according to our schedule, we pulled out our lawn chairs and brews in their parking lot.

Location:Dunn Way,Placentia,United States

Here we go


The 2010 FBB California Beer Tour

CALIFORNIA has some great breweries. we've decided to go visit them. this next week the four of us from FBB are going to hit the road (8 days, over 1800 miles, 30 hours of driving, and 13 breweries) to take in much of what california craft and microbrew has to offer. our schedule is below.

our tour will also be featured on theperfectlyhappyman.com. check it out. we'll try to post some content here as well.

Saturday, March 27

The Bruery

715 Dunn Way

Placentia CA 92870

Telephone: +1 714-996-6258

Hours: Friday 2:00pm-8:00pm, Saturday noon-6:00pm.

Brewer: Patrick Rue

Telegraph Brewing

416 North Salsipuedes Street

Santa Barbara CA 93103

Telephone: +1 805-963-5018

Hours: Thursday-Friday 4:00pm-6:00pm, Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm.

Brewer: Brian Thompson

Sunday, March 28

Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

1400 Ramada Drive

Paso Robles CA 93446

Telephone: +1 805-238-2556

Hours: Open daily noon-7:00pm. Tours Saturday 3:00pm.

Brewer: Matt Brynildson

Monday, March 29

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing

402 Ingalls Street Suite 27

Santa Cruz CA 95060

Telephone: +1 831-425-4900

Hours: Tasting room open daily noon-10:00pm or so.

Brewer: Chad Brill, Nick Thomas, Tim Huxley, Tom Perozzi, Dan Sattherthwaite

Anchor Brewing

1705 Mariposa Street

San Francisco CA 94107

Telephone: +1 415-863-8350

Hours: Call two weeks in advance for tours.

Brewer: Mike Lee

Tuesday, March 30

Lagunitas Brewing

1280 North McDowell Boulevard

Petaluma CA 94954

Telephone: +1 707-769-4495

Hours: Wednesday-Friday 3:00pm-9:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 1:00pm-9:00pm.

Brewer: Jeremy Marshall

Russian River Brewing

725 Fourth Street

Santa Rosa CA 95404

Telephone: +1 707-545-2337

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00am-midnight, Friday-Saturday 11:00am-1:00am.

Happy Hour is M-F from 4-6:30

Brewer: Vinnie Cilurzo

Wednesday, March 31

Mad River Brewing

195 Taylor Way

PO Box 767

Blue Lake CA 95525

Telephone: +1 707-668-4151

Hours: Monday-Saturday noon-9:00pm.

Brewer: Dylan Schotz

Eel River Brewing

1777 Alamar Way

Fortuna CA 95540

Telephone: +1 707-725-2739

Hours: Open daily 11:00am-11:00pm.

Brewer: Bruce Gehrke, Ted Vivatson

North Coast Brewing

444 North Main Street

Fort Bragg CA 95437

Telephone: +1 707-964-2739

Hours: Open daily at noon.

Brewer: Mark Ruedrich

Thursday, April 1

Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery

1398 Haight Street

San Francisco CA 94117

Telephone: +1 415-864-7468

Hours: Monday-Thursday noon-midnight, Friday noon-1:00am, Saturday 10:00am-1:00am, Sunday 10:00am-midnight.

Brewer: Dave McLean

Friday, April 2

Sudwerk Restaurant & Brewery

2001 Second Street

Davis CA 95618

Telephone: +1 530-758-8700

Hours: Sunday-Tuesday 11:30am-9:30pm, Wednesday-Thursday 11:30am-12:30am, Friday-Saturday 11:30am-10:30pm.

Brewer: Jay Prahl

Auburn Ale House

289 Washington Street

Auburn CA 95603

Telephone: +1 530-885-2537

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm, Friday-Saturday 11:00am-midnight.

Brewer: Brian Ford

Saturday, April 3

Eagle Rock Brewery

3056 Roswell Street

Los Angeles CA 90065

Telephone: +1 323-257-7866

Hours: Friday-Saturday 4:00pm-10:00pm, Sunday noon-6:00pm. Reservations are required.

Brewer: Jeremy Raub, Steve Raub

Sunday, April 4

LA to SD


Back to Brewing

We have gone back to the basics and brewed a simple pale ale again. Plain liquid malt extract, three hops (amarillo, spalt, sterling), English Ale yeast, and water. Here's a shot of it at two weeks in primary. We bottled it at that point and siphoned 1 gallon into a small growler and dry hopped it with Sterling leaf hops. -nhc