Beer 511

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

Category: Brewpubs Page 1 of 4

A visit to Russian River Brewing’s new Windsor campus

Wrapping up my Winter Break vacation and taking advantage of a sunny day in between bouts of rain, I hopped in the car and made the 1+ hour drive north check out Russian River Brewing’s new digs in Windsor.

Maybe “digs” doesn’t quite convey the feel of it. The place is huge.  Sitting on a 10-acre site, the building alone covers 85,000 square feet.

Even though it is an industrial plant -which includes not only the brewhouse, but also kegging, canning and bottling lines- it is, to an amazing degree, centered on the visitor experience.

First of all, unlike downtown, the Windsor site offers 2 acres of free parking, including electric vehicle charging stations.

Guests have a choice of four different areas.  Most immediate to the parking lot is a  lounge from which visitors can relax and from where to start on their tours. Next to it there is a large gift- and bottle-shop. There is also a tasting room offering 5-oz pours of a selection of RR’s brews and walk-up growler fills.

The heart of the guest area, however, is the 195-seat pub. It is itself divided into two main areas -one with pub-style seating, with tall bar chairs and tables, and one with more of a dining room arrangement. There is also a lounge area surrounding a round fireplace.  The whole thing is open, airy, and well-lit, with plenty of natural light.  In the back, there is a glassed-in bay that will one day house a pilot nanobrewery in full view of pub patrons.   It is all very comfortable and well-done, but I think regulars would miss the intimacy of the 4th Street pub.

The tap list is still somewhat abbreviated compared to what what can be had at the old 4th Street pub, but the bulk of what’s offered is what has been actually brewed on the premises. (Tip: Don’t bother asking about the “Procrastination”. I’m sure you can guess why.)

Russian River offers two types of tours. One, is the free self-guided tour, which ventures down a long hall from the guest lounge and allows one to view the production process from brewing to bottling.

The second option is the $15, 1-hour guided tour. This one allows one to get more intimately acquainted with the brewing process, from being able to look into the lab, stroll amongst the kettles, peer down into the open fermenters, and more. Three beer tastings and a souvenir goblet are included.

The the addition of the 75-bbl German-built brewhouse, Russian River has quadrupled its total brewing capacity, up from the 25-bbl system at the Santa Rosa pub.  They have also installed a several open-top fermenters, and a number of 75-bbl and 300-bbl closed fermenters.

In addition, the guided tour takes one beyond the areas visible on the self-guided tour, into the barrel house and to what is quickly coming to be regarded as the sanctum sanctorum of the Windsor brewery.

Beyond the already-fabled wood door (an Ebay find, it turns out), lies a room paneled in unfinished, soft pine wood. In it, rests the koelschip (or coolship), an open vessel in which hot wort (unfermented beer) is allowed to cool naturally, exposed to the ambient air and to the wild microflora allowed in through the open windows.

The hope is that in the long run that flora will colonize the wood in the steamy room, allowing Russian River to develop a unique “house flora” much like Belgium’s old lambic breweries have done.

Of course, we’ll have to wait another year or so to see what flavours the koelschip contributes to the beers that are now being passed through it on the way to the barrels.

Sutter Buttes Brewing (Yuba City, CA)

Last weekend, on my way to Dobbins for the Northern California Homebrewers Festival (NCHF), I stopped for lunch at Sutter Butter Brewing, in Yuba City.

Founded in 2011 in downtown Yuba City, Sutter Buttes is, as far as I can discern, that city’s only commercial brewery, and I know it to be a frequent stop for homebrewers and beer geeks on the way to Chico or to NCHF.

The tap room is pleasant, if a bit dated in its decor style, but it’s got it going on where it counts. The staff is pleasant and friendly, the food is good (try the Reuben sandwich), and the beer is spot on.

I ordered a flight and let my server choose the beers for me.  She selected the hefeweizen, Annie’s Almond Brown, Riley’s Red Ale, and Franklin DIPA.

The hefe (5.5%, 10 IBU) was quite good. It had everything one expects and looks for in hefeweizen.  Riley’s Red (6%, 55 IBU) was also very good.  The brewery’s blurb says it “has all the best features of an American craft red ale, but still grounded with Irish style”. I’m not that familiar with the style so I’ll have to take their word on it, but I can say that I liked it and you’d not go wrong in ordering it.  The Franklin DIPA (8%, 100 IBU) was also very good. Not as malt-forward as some DIPA’s but also not a face-puckering hop bomb.  It’s a DIPA that one could easily drink several of.   As for the brown (5.5%, 20 IBU), a beer “dry hopped” with local almonds, it was tasty, but honestly, I was not able to detect any almond notes.

The star for me, however, was the glass of Blackie Ford’s Hop Riot.  Named after the leader of the Wheatland hop workers strike of 1913, it is an 8.8%, 90 IBU, imperial black IPA.

It is strong, hoppy, and dark-tasting, if that’s a thing, but without the roastyness of a stout or a porter.  I can’t say that I’m super keen on black IPA’s as a style, but Blackie Ford’s is solid example of what can be achieved with the style.

 

 

Sutter Buttes Brewing
421 Center St
Yuba City, CA

http://www.sutterbuttesbrewing.com

La Red Cervecera Perú (Lima)

During my last week in Lima, at the beginning of August, I took myself to Barranco to get acquainted with the Red Cervecera Perú.

Red Cervecera is arguably one of Peru’s premiere homebrew supply retailers.  Located in a remodeled old early-Republican house on Avenida Francisco Bolognesi,  the Red Cervecera combines a homebrewing supply retail shop, a brewing school, and a brewpub under one roof.

There, owner Joe Forte and manager Francisco Tapiago, among others, provide invaluable suppor to the country’s homebrewing and craftbrewing community by lead courses in brewing, provide opportunities for other homebrewers and microbrewers to gain experience with new ingredients, and offer a venue for beer-oriented events.

I happened to stroll in off the street on a Wednesday afternoon and, though a stranger, was warmly welcomed as a homebrewer and invited in to observe a brew that Francisco was brewing in order to represent the Red Cervecera at the then-upcoming Craft Beer Sessions festival.  While there I also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Joe, and with Megan Garrity, of Greenga Brewing Co., who were collaborating on a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Porter for the same event.

Franscisco was kind enough to take time out to give me a tour of the place and to show me the shop, which sells some thirty varieties of malt and carries a couple of dozen hop varieties as they become available.  One of those was a surprising experimental hop from Hop Breeding Company, HBC 472, which provided all the coconut notes to a Coconut Golden Ale on tap at the bar.

I returned the next evening for World IPA Day, and was again embraced and made to feel at home, and introduced to other craft brewers from across Peru.

At the Red Cervera, Joe, Francisco, and the rest of the team, more or less created one of those brewer’s dream spaces in which all elements of the hobby –from brewing, to owning a homebrew shop, to having your own brand, to serving your beers (and your friends’ beers) at your own bar– are brought together under one roof and shared with wider brewing community.  Their openness exemplifies an attitude of sharing and cross-pollination with, and among that community, that is a hallmark of the homebrew and craft brew community in the United States but is, I’m told, still a bit harder to come across in Peru.

 

Red Cervecera Perú
Av. Francisco Bolognesi 721
Barranco, Lima, Peru

www.facebook.com/redcerveceraperu/
www.redcervecera.com

Cervecería +51 (Lima, Peru)

A few days ago my wife, my cousins, and I headed over to Cervecería +51 in Lima’s Jesús María district.

Cervecería +51 is a small brewpub on a side street not far from Jesús María’s plaza and central market.  It occupies the space vacated by Jaya Brew and there are still a few relics from Jaya in the form of posters, wifi  network  ID, etc.

The space is nicely appointed with tables made from recycled doors, and there are several sets of Jenga™-style blocks for patrons to play with.  The staff is great. Super friendly, helpful, and dedicated to making sure that one has a good experience as a patron.

Currently, +51 (whose name, incidentally –like part of the name of this blog– is derived from the Peru country code) has a line-up of a dozen beers, including a trio of Irish-style beers (lager, red ale, coffee stout).   Not all of them were on tap when we visited, but the missing brews were made up for by guest taps from other Lima craft brewers.

We stuck with the house brews, trying their Imperial Stout (6% abv, 33 IBU), American Pale Ale (5.5%, 33 IBU), ZIA – India Red Ale (6.5%, 44 IBU), IPA (7%, 58 IBU), and the Belgian Pale Ale (5.9%, 26 IBU).

+51 is brand new, having opened its doors only in mid-June, and it is evident that, like many new breweries, they’ve not yet gotten their brewhouse efficiency zeroed in. The result is that some of the beers, while overall good in flavour, do lack a bit in body and mouthfeel. (And, of course, there’s the issue of taking a 6% abv, 33 IBU beer and calling it an imperial stout.)

The Belgian Pale and the IPA were the best of the bunch.  Both of those brews show that +51 has what it takes to produce good beers. There was sufficient “Belgiany” flavour in the first, and a decent hoppiness and good body, with a nice long-lasting head of foam, in the latter. In fact, having tasted the IPA, we ordered a full pitcher of it. And then, a second one!

Time constraints will likely keep me from revisiting +51 during the remaining days of the this trip, but I look forward to getting back there when I next return to Lima.

 

Cervecería +51
Jr. Huamachuco 1479, Jesús María
Lima, Peru

The ABGB (Austin, TX)

An article in this month’s Zymurgy magazine -the journal of the American Homebrewers Association- featuring an interview with Brian Peters, the owner and brewer at the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. reminded me that I hadn’t posted anything relating to my recent visit to Austin.  (I been trying to post at least every two weeks, but clearly, I’m failing at that.)

Knowing my predilection for beer and brewing, my friends, Michelle and Dan, suggested we met at Austin Beer Garden Brewing, known locally as The ABGB.

Located just south of downtown, the ABGB occupies a large warehouse-type space. One side is given to the bar and taps, while one of the ends holds a stage for live music on the weekends. The brewing and fermenting gear peeks out from behind both.  The public space is filled with long communal tables, making for a friendly space. However, it is with the outside seating that the ABGB really earns it’s moniker.

Thanks to Austin’s warm weather, one can sit at the outside tables long into the evening, under the strings of Edison lights.   The ABGB serves some rather nice pizza, and of course the beer can be ordered by the pitcher to go with the pies.

How’s the beer?  Actually, pretty good. It’s no wonder that the ABGB is one of Austin’s prime beer spots.

I am not sure what we had with the pizza, as it was not I doing the ordering, but as I waited for Michelle and Dan to arrive I did sample a glass of “YSB [You’ll See, Baby] #5: Fiona”.  Fiona is a mild apple sour first released in 2015.  It must have proved popular for it to be still be on tap in early 2018. As I made a note of at the time, Fiona is “Crisp, dry, apple. Tart. I like!”

So, if you should find yourself with time to kill in Austin, the ABGB is well-worth checking out.

 

ABGB
1305 W. Oltorf
Austin, TX

theabgb.com

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