Saturday, August 25, 2007

Vintage suprise

I recently had a chance to try a very tasty bottle of Trader Joe’s 2006 Vintage Ale, which is brewed by Unibroue and is an exceptionally good buy if you can get to a TJ’s. It has a very nice dark caramel color and starts out with an interesting nose that almost reminds you of root beer, but then gets more and more complex as the hints of holiday spice begin to come through. Unibroue is a Canadian brewery that makes a selection of exceptionally high quality Belgian style beers. I don’t think you will be disappointed if you give it a try.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Newton's Norcal Beer Journey, Day 1 - Eel River

Hi everyone, I type this entry from a lovely Travelodge in Eureka, CA. As you can see from the marquee advertising cable TV, I am living large. The reason I'm up here is that I recently decided to venture through northern California for 4 days, 3 nights and visit ~12 microbreweries. Also, I decided to go it alone for two reasons:

1) Everyone's working except me.
2) I can't remember the last time I had some alone time.

So this morning, I hopped in the Geo Prizm and drove 5.5 hours up to Humboldt county to kick-off a slow southbound trickle through northern California beer country. Hell yeah.

I'm going to divide my trip report into many small chunks to accomodate the short attention spans of the internet generation. Chances are you didn't even get this far, and you're playing some flash game where you're trying to chuck crap at Lindsay Lohan.

On to the beer.

First stop was Eel River Brewing in Fortuna, CA. Eel River bills themselves as America's first certified organic brewery. Upon entering what looked like a converted barn (very well converted I might add), the first thing I noticed was the huge number of awards for their beers. Definitely a positive sign.

Still not really understanding the concept of pacing oneself, I decided to go with the sampler. I won't talk about all 6 beers here, but here are some notables:

- For some odd reason, the seasonal was actually just a half IPA, half blonde mixture. Interesting idea, very bready flavor, but not much in the way of hops.
- The amber was light on aroma, but was really well balanced between malt and hops. The malt had a ever-so-slightly roasty flavor to it, reminiscent of Fat Tire.
- The porter again was a little light on aroma, but had some incredible coffee flavors followed by a mouthful of mild smokiness (without tasting like a bonfire of burning leaves). Good stuff.

I also picked up a bomber (22 oz. bottle) of their imperial stout. Haven't tried it, and I've resist ed the urge to drink it alone in my hotel (er, motel) room, so I have no notes on it.

Next up, Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake.