Picking up where I left off yesterday, here’s a look at more of the beer and wine adventures that J and I had on our recent road trip to the West.
Oregon wineries: We visited a few Willamette Valley wineries this time, including a visit to the Van Duzer tasting room. As you can see below, the view is just gorgeous. Our friends told us that the wines have greatly improved in recent years after a new winemaker came on board; the work is paying off, as we enjoyed our tasting flight. We also made a repeat visit to Sokol Blosser. There we got to visit their beautiful, new, sustainably built tasting room, and once again sample their amazing wine. We left with a bottle of the dessert wine that on our last trip I was surprised to love so much. Speaking of our last visit here, our tasting guide Jim was on duty again this time around. Amazingly, he remembered us and our friends from our visit a year ago, and he was as engaging as ever. Thanks to search-term bots that scour the web (for mentions of, say, Sokol Blosser), he even knew that I’d talked about the winery on this blog last fall. Very cool!
The Local Beer Bar, Eureka, CA: On our drive from Oregon to the San Francisco Bay Area, we stopped at this great bar, which I discovered on Yelp. They had dozens of amazing beers on tap, and a cooler full of a wide array of bottles for drinking on site or taking to go. The bartender was friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and the patrons all seemed to be beer geeks (90% men when we were there) who were happy to be drinking great craft beer in the company of their own kind. We geeked out with a few of them about West Coast and Midwest brews. Once again, I neglected to take notes on which hoppy beers J tried, but I know that I had the Noel de Calabaza (on tap) from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, a holiday seasonal that I was delighted to try even in August. It was an absolutely fantastic sour! As the Jolly Pumpkin website describes, you can expect “deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.” Mmmm! I also picked up a sour from Mikkeller that I’m saving for another day: Spontannoble 2012. If you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to The Local.
Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA: Of course, no self-respecting lover of great beer could drive near Santa Rosa, California, without visiting Russian River Brewing Company. The place was very busy even at 2 pm on a weekday, but we managed to snag two stools squeezed in near the front end of the bar. It was a bit of a madhouse there at the entrance to the pub, with folks crowded around to buy bottles, growlers, and swag to go or a beer to drink while they stood waiting for a table or a seat. Nevertheless, it was well worth the stop. J tried Pliny the Elder (I think) and Row 2, Hill 56. I was driving, so I kept it to one: Propitiation, a truly delicious barrel-aged sour porter. We also snagged a few bottles for the road, including Damnation (bottle-fermented golden ale), Temptation (sour ale aged in chardonnay barrels), and Supplication (sour ale aged in pinot noir barrels with cherries added). And yes, most of their beers have “-ation” religious names, making it nearly impossible to keep straight which is which. We even heard a bartender tripping over his tongue and getting confused as he tried to name and describe several beers to a patron.
Steins Beer Garden, Mountain View, CA: J and I missed this the last time we were in town, but we were happy to find it this time. (The prices are steeper than Montana Ale Works, but this is Mountain View after all.) I had the amazing Cuvée Des Jacobins Rouge on tap for the first time, and then had a fun flight of mostly stouts that included North Coast Brewing‘s Old Rasputin (nitro), Clown Shoes‘ Vampire Slayer, and High Water Brewing‘s Campfire Stout. The bartenders weren’t nearly as knowledgeable as at the Local, but we had a nice time regardless.
And still more?! Yes, yesterday and today’s extensive lists still don’t cover all the great (and occasionally not-so-great) beverages that we enjoyed on our trip. Others included Terminal Gravity Brewing‘s Bar X Stout (delicious!) on tap in Oregon and Unibroue‘s Éphémère Apple (too reminiscent of a green apple Jolly Rancher) on tap in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Coming soon: post(s) about some of our culinary adventures!