Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Russian River Brewery-Pliny the Younger

As Hoppy Beer Girl mentioned in a recent post...we are here to bring you all things “West Coast”! Just to give you a little background on “Beatnik and McMatherson”, we are a husband and wife team residing in the Northern California region. We were taken with the story behind HBG, and what it means to experience the pure artistry in beer making, as well making memories together with your loved one. So while we may not be 100% girl, we are elated to bring you new and exciting beers as the "Team HBG West Coast"...Our locale is 1.5 hours from Tahoe, 1.5 hours from San Fran, right in the heart of food and wine region near Napa Valley. Our hopes: To introduce you to new beers not often received east of the Rockies, as well as show you the exciting journey getting to these places. So let us begin with the grand fashion!

Speaking of journeys! We've all heard many times that it's not the destination but the journey getting there. Well earlier this month we were treated to both a journey and destination when we set off to sample what is regarded by many in the beer drinking community as “the best beer in theworld.” I'm talking about the unveiling of the 2013 batch of "Pliny theYounger." Pliny the Younger is a unique and heralded Triple IPA (by the by...anything hoppy is revered out here) brewed once a year by the gang at Russian River brewers in Santa Rosa, California. Santa Rosa is about an hour north of San Francisco up "the 101" [side-note: Google "SNLCalifornians" for a skit highly accurate of how Californians talk about their highway system]. Rolling hills and marshy wetlands line the highway framed by mountains on both sides north of San Francisco making for a beautifully scenic view. We had run off on a Tuesday morning, just so that drive would be mellow. We didn't sight-see much on the way up due to anticipating a crowd at the brewery (yes even on a Tuesday morning). We did however get to drive through the winding Sonoma area on the way back, stopping for some Fro-yo in Napa (but that's another story). When you arrive in Santa Rosa, it has the classic old town feel. Russian River brewery holds a prime spot right in the middle of it all.


Approaching RR we could already see the line formed for the establishment. We arrived right at 11am when the Brew-Pub opened and waited roughly 30 minutes to get a chance to stand at the bar. The people were diverse ranging from Mohawk to Business suit, from newly minted drinker to wise sage of all things hops. 

The Pub itself is a comfy and lively venue, offering food, swag, and a plethora of intricate brewed creations. 
We were compelled to order, and received two 10oz glasses of the enshrined brew. You could smell the floral hops wafting from the glass, even held at a comfortable distance. Color PTY was a nice rich golden hue. As for flavor, complexity is an understatement. This is considered a Triple IPA, yet the hops are controlled, floral, milky, and smooth. Unquestionably this beer has mammoth flavor and a commands respect while drinking (imagine that part in any movie when the stud or babe walk into the room and all eyes are on them). We aren't usually one to jump on the hops train, but this is one fine far the best IPA we've ever had. As for being the best beer in the world? There is no doubt that it is great beer, deserving of all of it's accolades. And there is no doubt it reigns in the top 5 beers I've personally experienced. I personally feel fortunate, to have had the opportunity to be within a short drive to an amazing experience. If the rest of our tenure goes like this, it's going to be one great journey...with several wonderful destinations.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Meet Beatnik and McMatherson The West Coast Beer Dude(s)

As I said last week, I am going to have a recurring feature on the blog (which I am very excited about).  I have two FANTASTIC people whom I love dearly, writing about their experiences with beer, now that they live out in California. I would like to introduce you (sort of) to Beatnik and McMatherson.  I wanted to make sure that you had some background on these two, so I sent Beatnik some questions.

Getting to know Beatnik and McMatherson (or the west coast team)
What was your first beer “a-ha” moment? When you decided you loved beer?

I think it was when I decided to order a Guinness ..I may be aging myself here, but back in the early 21 and up days of my life all that was available typically was your cheap domestic easy drinking beers.  Guinness was the antithesis of anything offered typically at the time.

What are your top 3 favorite beer styles to drink?

Dunkleweiss, Imperial Stout, and Dark Ale in that order...

Do you homebrew?

I've done wine, but I have yet to do beer...

What are your top 3 favorite breweries, either to drink, or to visit?

Right now, Russian River (Santa Rosa Ca.), Three Floyds (Munster In.), and Ayinger brewery (Aying Germany)

In your opinion, what are some of the best resources (books, websites, programs, institutions etc…) for people learning about beer and brewing beer?

BeerAdvocate is great for getting a bead on a beer, although it's ultimately your own opinion that stands the final test...I'm also a fan of reddit's homebrewing section.  If you type reddit homebrew in google it'll pop up.

What beer would you give someone to get them “hooked” on beer?

I would probably do "La Fin Du Monde" by Unibroue, or "Ayinger HefeWeiss" by Ayinger...both easier drinking varieties that are much more complex then your typical bar beer.

Any words of advice to people who are just starting to get involved with beer?

Enjoy the experience around the beer, just not the beer itself...look into the history, the people, and the notion of why they put those ingredients together.  It makes a great story.

What is the beer culture like in California? Is it much different from the Chicago region?

Well out here, they are all about the hoppy's the number one focus.  Although out here most of the hoppy beers tend to be less bitter and more floral...unlike many I've encountered in the midwest.  As for the people, they follow craft just as rabidly as those in the Midwest...but they do also share a love of wine as well naturally.  It's not the Beer vs. Wine battle royal I would have thought.  In fact, anything that pushes the limits be it wine, beer, or culinary rewarded handily.

How do you choose how to pair food with beer? (and will you share some recipes with us?)

There's one of two ways for a great symbiotic pairing.  You have the pairings that rely on choosing ingredients that may be similar in make-up (is there raisins in the beer and the dish?) or in volume (lighter beers with fish, darker beers with meaty items).  And then the more uncommon approach is you have beers that  balance the meal.  This takes much more time in the sense of menu preparation because you are counter pointing the menu and including the beer as one of the ingredients of dish...for example if you have an overly sweet dish, a hoppy bitter beer may bring a balance when married with this...Or if you have astringent items you may go with a more savory beer.

As for recipes....time will tell :)  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Exciting New Stuff!!

Hi. I have missed this… missed you… missed talking about beer. I hope you missed me too. I know that two weeks isn't THAT long of a time to not write anything… but it feels like it has been an eternity.  I do have some new and exciting things coming soon…

First super exciting thing, I have expanded my realm of beer and drinking knowledge by adding a “west coast division” as they wish to be called, to my blog family. I have two wonderful people who will be writing (on a regular basis they promised) for the blog on all things Californian and beer. So YAY!! I am very excited about this, and cannot wait to get them started.

The next exciting thing is I (finally) have an affiliate for my blog. I feel so grown up!! After 100 posts (yes that many), I can finally say that I have a company that wants me to advertise for them on my blog! Who, you may ask, has decided that my blog works for them? Well it is Lets Pour, a website which I have used on many an occasion to purchase hard to find beer. You can find a banner at the bottom of my page, and check them out. They have some great deals on hard to find beers (and wine if you are into that thing). Be sure to play the Spin the bottle game to win a discount on your purchase!!

My Friend Mic
Did you hear me on the J2C3 Podcast a few weeks ago? Well you should (and beware, I got mighty drunk, so there is a lot of random giggling). Check it out! These guys are great! I really hope that they let me back. 

Yep, that is Jamie crying
Bri from 13 Monsters (check them out too!!)
Yummy Beer
And more yummy beer

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Random Thought

Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time? I have so much going on at this moment in my life that I feel I can't possibly make time to relax. So I force myself to sit and try to write, read, watch TV, waste time on the internet, and instead find myself tired of the mundane-ness of it, and go back to being busy with everything else.

End of thought.

Happy Mardi Gras, and hope you are all enjoying your Fe-brew-ary!

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