A Letter to Sam

Dear Sam,

World Pub was exactly as you described: a non-descript exterior, with nothing in the way of decor or vibe, serving quality beer on tap and by the bottle.

We debated a game of Candy Lane or darts, both readily available, but decided instead to enjoy our beers within sight of the flickering electronic fire near the black leather well-worn couches.

As you have yet to get over your Mad River kick (and since we never made it up to Blue Lake) your dad had a Steelhead in your honor. The rest of us ordered the IPA from Lost Coast, the Black Butte Porter from Dechutes, and the Lagunitas Folly Ale to complete out the round.

Unfortunately the owner wasn't working so we couldn't talk beer with him as you have described he is readily willing to do.

In the end we were sad we couldn't enjoy the experience with you, but believe there will be another opportunity someday. Hopefully the fire hasn't been turned off by then.

Jason, Nate, Greg, and Steve


14th Stop-Auburn Alehouse

Our trip to the Auburn Alehouse marked the second for Nate and I. Last May, along with Sam and a couple other friends, we sampled beer here in what was then their first year of brewing. They have continued to do well, making some very good beer.

With Sam's dad, Steve, taking the place of Sergio, we pulled up at the bar and ordered their brown ale, porter, and Irish red stout. We were most impressed with their brown ale and porter. With an ABV of 3.6%, the brown was a really tasty "session" beer. Indeed it was the only time on this trip I ordered the same beer twice in one sitting. The porter was stronger and had roasted barley tones.

The Aubun Ale house does not bottle their beer but offers growlers and taps a cask every Wednesday evening. The cask was empty by our visit Friday night.

A nice small brewery in a nice small town. Well worth the second visit.

Location:Auburn, California

13th Stop-Sudwerk Brewing Company

As we sat down in the very wood-paneled, soccer and college friendly restaurant of the Sudwerk Brewery we argued about why we were there. Was it because we had tried their beer in San Diego or was it just on a recommendation? Had we heard it was related to the now-famous and nearby UC Davis brewing school, or was it just a German lager-loving place?

As we tried to answer some of these questions we ordered a Pilsner, Marzen, and Helles Lager.

The Pilsner was straw colored with a scant floral aroma and was cleanly bitter, as good German pilsners are. As we drank we discussed how different beers, all brewed with hops as a main ingredient, can taste so different. The bitterness of a German Pilsner is vastly different from the bitterness of an IPA, owing to varying hop varieties, differing recipes and ratios, and a host of other factors.

The Marzen was a translucent copper brown and less bitter than the Pilsner, and inspired us to re-brew our FBB Marzen, the second ever beer we made. The lager was golden in color, very light and smooth. We also tried a seasonal, their Dunkelweis, a dark wheat beer. It had a banana nose and taste, with chocolate tones mixed in.

We never were able to learn much about their brewery or history, despite asking everyone we could find. We learned from their web-site that they began in 1989 and have only an ancillary connection to the brewery school at Davis. We don't know how many barrels they produce per year.

Generally speaking, we enjoyed their beer and liked their facility but were unimpressed with the experience. And their food was pretty bad, but this blog isn't about food.

Give their beers a shot, but don't worry about visiting Davis, CA to do so.

Location:Davis, California


12th Stop-21st Amendment Brewery

21st Amendment Brewery was another modification to our original schedule. Because we hit up Magnolia on our first pass through San Francisco, we decided to add 21st Amendment on a recommendation from our bartender at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery. It also happened to be within walking distance from the Giants game.

The bar had a San Diego feel, with a young after-work crowd and large windows that open onto an outside patio. They are one of a growing number of breweries to can their beers, something that is becoming less and less of a turn-off in the craft brewing world.

We tried only three of their beers and an apple cider they had on draught, all nice. The first was a malty amber ale that had a nice finish and was more drinkable than it's 6.5% ABV would suggest. Their IPA was without much aroma and was considerably less hoppy than expected. The Irish Red was smooth and creamy, with more malt than hop.

To summarize, their beers were consistently on the malty side. By no means was this a negative quality. The beers had a drinkable quality that is not often present in hoppy beer with alcohol contents greater than 5%. An interesting observation.

It was a fun bar with good beer that we hope to see in San Diego soon.

Location:San Francisco, California

11th Stop-North Coast Brewing Company

North Coast was perhaps the most anticipated brewery of our trip, at least for me. Between the four of us we have had every one of their regular beers; it turns out they don't really have any others. But first things first.

The town of Fort Bragg is a small coastal town and it was raining as we arrived. The North Coast brewery was under construction so we weren't able to tour the facility, but they have a restaurant/bar directly across the street.

We were hoping to taste some seasonal or rare brews not available in San Diego, however as alluded to above, they don't have any. The closest they come is their Old Stock Ale, which is bottled by year, similar to wine. We learned of some old seasonals, Christmas ales and such, but nothing of late.

It didn't matter. Their regular lineup is one of our favorites. We had, between the four of us, the Scrimshaw, Red Seal on cask, Acme Pale Ale and IPA, Pranqster, Old No. 38 Stout on nitro, and Old Rasputin Stout on nitro. We won't describe them here.

Some interesting history on the brewery. They began in 1987 with the Scrimshaw, Red Seal, and Old No. 38 Stout. In the 90's, an old microbrewery by the name of Acme was going under, so North Coast bought their recipes and began making their beers. Their pale ale and IPA came out of this transaction, and their balanced hop profiles fit well with the North Coast originals. Interestingly, they also bought a brown ale recipe from Acme that didn't sell well and was discontinued. North Coast remains without a brown ale in their lineup.

North Coast then added their Old Rasputin Stout (more spicy and less of a session stout than Old No. 38) and their Belgians (Brother Thelonius, Pranqster, and La Merle) in the 2000's.

All in all a quality brewery, something we knew prior to our visit. We would advise, if you haven't already, that you try North Coast and return often.

A beautiful sight.

Location:Fort Bragg, California


10th Stop-Anderson Valley Brewing Company

We squeezed this brewery into our schedule as it was on the 128 on our way to Fort Bragg. We have often seen their beer on the shelves at Trader Joes and on tap at The Station in Southpark, San Diego.

They had nice facilities, a Don told us they would. We were unimpressed, however, with their decor. It was a confused mix of banners and tie-dye, with copper accents.

Luckily their beer was better. We especially enjoy their darker beers, including their Dark Ender Porter and their Oatmeal Stout. They have a smooth, rich, simple quality that doesn't try to do too much. We also tried their pale, ESB, and wheat. They were average.

Greg sampled several of their tap sodas, including the root beer and cream soda, and had a lively conversation with their soda "brewmaster/craftsman." The sodas are all made from scratch without preservatives. They are awaiting their FDA approval to begin bottling.

All in all this brewery (producing only 30,000 barrels per year despite their wide distribution) is more of an icon given their early start (in 1987, they were one ofthe first microbreweries in the area) and mentorship of other breweries. At the end if the day, however, our opinion did not change much on their beer. It was ok.

Greg with the soda guy.

Location:Highway128,Mendocino-Anderson,United States

Giants Game

Giants/A's exhibition game with Rutman.

Location:Barbary Coast Trail,San Francisco,United States


As is obvious, our schedule has
changed more than once so far this trip. We never made it to The Bruery (it was closed), Telegraph (we were hung up in LA), or Anchor Steam (turns out if you don't have a tour reservation, which are required two months in advance, you can't go, and they don't have a taproom). We also have decided to cut out the Eureka/Fortuna leg of our trip due to time constraints. Mad River and Eel River will have to wait for another tour.

Instead we have hit up Magnolia early, added Moonlight in Santa Rosa, and stopped at Anderson Valley on our way to Fort Bragg. We also made an additional stop at Firestone Walker.

There certainly are no shortage of breweries to see, and we decided quality over quantity was more our style.

9th Stop-Moonlight Brewing

Moonlight is a small brewery that only kegs their beer. It's been on tap at our local The Linkery in North Park San Diego. Good stuff.

We tried their beer at Flavor, a restaurant just around the corner from Russian River. The food was amazing and the beer was a welcome step-back from the aggressive style of RR.

We tried the Pilsner (a really well composed, complex, light lager) and a dark lager. They have a reputation of making quality drinkable beer and we would agree.

Location:Santa Rosa, CA

8th Stop-Russian River Brewing Company

Russian River was a quick stop on our tour. The location had more of a bar feel, located in "downtown" Santa Rosa, and we didn't actually see any of their brewing operation. The place was busy.

They were serving several of their regular beers and also a few unusual brews.

Nate, Sergio, and I each had one beer here. We'll each describe them in brief, as best we can.

Nate (Consecration Ale): a sour juicy ale, brewed with berries.

Sergio (Temptation Ale): Belgian single sour, light in color.

Jason (Happy Hops): It was overwhelmingly hop forward; I'd say we found the West Coast hop kick.

Location:Santa Rosa, CA