Beer 511

Exploring the Craft Beer and Homebrew Scenes in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Category: Breweries (Page 1 of 5)

Alvarado Street Brewery tap room in Salinas (CA)

Here’s a collage of some images from a visit I made yesterday to Alvarado Street Brewery’s production facility and tap room in Salinas.

The brewery and tap room had been on my list for a while but, somehow or another, I never managed to get there whenever I was in Salinas.  Yesterday, however, I was in town and I had a few spare moments before leaving, so I decided to give it a shot.

The brewery is in an industrial area of town, and if you know Salinas you know that that means mainly agriculture-related businesses.  They start their days early, and so things shut down early as well.  As I drove to the brewery a little after 5:30 in the afternoon, the area was pretty much deserted except for a couple of guys at a food truck and some straggler semis pulling out of some of the plants.  I thought, “Man, this place is dead.”

The tasting room, however, was hopping. Alvarado Street has managed to create a really nice, almost intimate, space in the midst of fermentation tanks and what could’ve been a kind of cold industrial warehouse. Consequently, the place was packed with people –a lot them clearly just off work from the surrounding plants– having a good time and enjoying some quite tasty beers.

After sampling a few of Alvarado Street’s brews, I asked my server to point me to one that I really should not leave without trying. He steered me toward Minesweeper IPA.

Minesweeper is very pleasant 55 IBU, 7% ABV, hazy IPA.  It is not as “juicy” nor as bitter as some examples that have come into prominence lately, but that actually enhances its drinkability.   My server pointed out that Minesweeper was “the one that really put us on the map.”

 

 

Alvarado Street Brewery  & Tasting Room
1315 Dayton Street, Suite E
Salinas, CA 93901

www.alvaradostreetbrewery.com

 

 

Farm Creek Brewing closing and relocating

Tonight Farm Creek Brewing Co. in Walnut Creek rang “last call” and closed it’s doors to the public for the last time.

On Sept. 11th Farm Creek announced the closing:

Farm Creek Friends,

From the beginning, Farm Creek Brewing has always been about family. And community. We’re proud to be part of an amazing community of supporters and friends. But, we’re missing out on time with our families back home in the south. We can always make more beer, but we can’t make more time.

Heather and I have decided that it’s time for us to create the next chapter of the Farm Creek story.

We will be closing the taproom and brewery in Walnut Creek, California and relocating Farm Creek. The Janinda’s are going home.

The taproom will be open during normal business hours until September 23. We’ll begin disassembling the brewery and taproom shortly after that.

This past year has been an adventure for us and we’re glad we could share it with you. Now, come by the taproom and share another beer with us. And be ready to come visit us on the east coast soon!

Cheers!

Randy and Heather

Farm Creek had recently marked it first anniversary. In the year that it was open, the Janindas had turned Farm Creek into a beloved local institution, the epitome of a small, independent, hard-working and all-hands-on-deck family-owned brewery.

It is fair to say that, though we all wish them well as they relocate to Georgia, they shall be missed.

Faction Brewing (Alameda, CA)

Just a few images from my visit to Faction Brewing in Alameda on June 3rd.

Monterey Coast Brewing Co. (Salinas, CA)

Monterey Coast Brewing Co., is located about 10 miles inland, in downtown Salinas, and has been around for at least a dozen years. Until recently it was Salinas’ only brew-on-premises establishment open to the public. (Monterey’s Alvarado Street Brewery now has a production facility in Salinas with an attached tap room.) The brewpub is actually located in what was originally a bank, and later was a gun smith’s and armory, below the studios of a now long-defunct public radio station that I worked at while in high school. Thus, I have a fondness for the place, and have lunched there on several occasions.

The restaurant has a simple, old-fashioned wood bar with a over a dozen taps, backed up by what looks like four or five 10-bbl fermenters.

A curious detail I noticed on my latest visit is that the mash tun has two manways. It appears that the orientation of the original one must not have allowed enough space for comfortably removing the spent grain given its proximity to the nearby wall, and thus a second manway was cut into the tun.

I’ve always enjoyed the food there, and when they say on their website that it is “where the locals eat”, it is no mere marketing or exaggeration.

Of course, the main reason I chose to dine there when I’m in Salinas is to support a local, independent brewer.  Which, brings us to the beer:

Monterey Coast Brewing has a modest lineup of eight house beers, ranging from a pale ale to a stout. Given that they only sell the beer on premises ($7 32-oz growler refill on Thursdays!), it is probably prudent that they keep the number manageable.

From L to R: Scottish Red, IPA, Belgian Ale

On this visit, I ordered a flight for the first time, tasting five of their beers. This horizontal sampling allowed me to discern a notably similar character in their brews.  I expect that the brew staff has perhaps been harvesting  the yeast from one brew for use in the next, and that, over time, it may have evolved into “house” strain.

I’ve never found their beers to be outstanding, but always enjoyable, albeit with a few allowances –for example, the IPA doesn’t fully deliver on the “heavily hopped…intense and complex” character promised in the description.  One’s most solid bets, I think, are the pale ale, the porter, and the stout.

 

Monterey Coast Brewing Company
165 Main St.
Salinas, California

montereycoastbrewing.com

Brüehol Brewing (Benicia, CA)

Today I made my way over to Benicia to try the offerings at Brüehol Brewing.

Brüehol Brewing was established in Benicia in 2014 by Mark Keller, Mark Ristow, and Steve Nortcutt, but opened its tap room only three weeks ago. I was eager to get there because Mark R. and Steve used to be homebrewers in the same club as I -the Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts (DOZE).  Both of them are highly skilled brewers, and it shows in the beers they are producing at Brüehol.

It is relatively rare for small craft breweries to produce lager beers.  In part it is because of the time involved –while a lager rests -i.e. lagers– it takes up valuable fermenter space that could be turned to producing a couple of ales.  However, it is also because lagers, specially pale lager styles, are unforgiving of mistakes. They don’t have the roasty, malty flavor character or hoppiness to counterbalance any flaws.

It takes a bit of courage to make a lager a part of one’s brewery’s regular line up, and Brüehol offers two of them: a Gold Rush Helles Lager, and Old Capitol Pilsner.

Both beers are very good.  The helles was light and clean, and the pilsner was appropriately malty while maintaining the lightness of body that characterizes the style.  I dare say that they are two of the best craft lagers that I’ve tasted in the area.

The other beer I tried was the 5W-30 Black Ale.  It has hints of caramel or toffee in the nose, and coffee and chocolate in flavor.  Despite its looks, however, it is not a stout, but truly just a black ale.  Like the other beers its name is an homage to Benicia, in this case to its history (and present) as a refinery town.

Currently, Brüehol is producing about 10 barrels a month, running double batches on a 3-barrel brewing system.  Steve told me that in a few months, however, they expect to expand their output by gaining the ability to brew and ferment on a 10-barrel system.  That would also free the guys up to be able to produce more special occasion or one-off brews on their pilot system. There are plans to add a couple of ciders, and several more ales to the taps.

If you’re in Benicia Brüehol is well worth looking up -just be aware that the tap room is not downtown but over on the east end of town.

Brüehol Brewing
4828 East 2nd St
Benicia, CA

www.brueholbrewing.com

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