My Top Five Go-To IPAs

“Like Riding A Bike” from Urban Roots

It’s very difficult to choose and it changes often but mine, as I write this, in no particular order, and all from California – so I guess mine is pretty regional too:

  • Pliny The Elder – Russian River (Santa Rosa).
  • Mai Tai – Alvarado Street (Monterey)
  • Like Riding A Bike – Urban Roots (Sacramento).
  • DDH General Sherman – Tioga Sequoia (Fresno)
  • Citraholic – Beachwood Brewing (Long Beach).

I know it’s kinda obvious to put Pliny on there but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. It is always true.

Side note: This post was inspired by this thread and is worth checking out for the KC influenced responses:

Grab A Beer And Stare At Stuff

An empty Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden

During this time of bizarre hell and staying home, maybe you have time to do the nerdy things you never think of or never think you have the time for.

I have some random suggestions on things you could be doing at home, like I am. As a mostly homebody person that drinks most of my beer at home anyway, I should be a damn-ass expert!

Do More Things On Untappd

Join or conduct a contest! My friends, @ChewYourBeer and @TheFontanaJim will sometimes do contests on their Untappd accounts, sending a beer to the winner out of the kindness of their beer hearts. Maybe do that…if you’re bored…and like to ship things. Another thing I won’t do. But maybe you will.

Give longer reviews. In the latest Untappd update they expanded the space for leaving reviews. I still can’t get too deep into flavor descriptors. I stick with the basics. But maybe turning a check-in into a blog post is something I could get into.

Catalog Your Beer Fridge or Cellar. A recent thread on Reddit woke me to this. You can create a custom list in Untappd of your cellar. My cellar is the back of my fridge and I have only two. List complete.

Grab beer. Watch The Shit Out Of TV and Movies

Here is what I am making time for at the moment:

  • Ozark – Season 3. Maybe the best drama on TV, certainly on Netflix. And holy crap, Ruth is such a damn good character.
  • Homeland. The final season has been good, I’m going to miss this show.
  • The Walking Dead. Hit and miss this season, like every season.
  • Star Wars. I instinctively bought the BluRay for Rise Of Skywalker but I wish I hadn’t. Not because the movie is bad (I was surprised that I still liked it on 2nd watch, despite its definite flaws), but because there are no deleted scenes. Lame. I’m trying to catch-up on the Clone Wars series too. I recently watched Rogue One, for like the 6th time, and it’s still damn good.

I miss new SNLs and I hear that they are going to be doing some sort of Shelter-In-Place version. Better than nothing but a live audience is a major part of that show, it’s going to be…interesting.

Window and a Beer

I’m big on needing to relax and beer is a major part of that. One of my favorite things is sitting on my patio with a good beer (sometimes with music) and watching clouds, planes, birds, the squirrels that rule my neighborhood and also have nests in my trees, you know, whatever that comes into my view.

Looking out a window works well too. Subplots begin to form if you have the right window. Nothing pairs better with a beer than a good subplot. Miles Parks from NPR has a quaint one going:

Just don’t look too dodgy while staring at stuff, like the guy below (Nick Heath and especially Andrew Cotter, have been hilarious during this whole thing with his commentary over everyday scenes) :

For more staring out windows tips and thoughts, check out Rob Walker’s latest newsletter.

Do It Live

I have yet to do a beer community-related Zoom. It sounds exhausting. I definitely need to pop in on a Perfect Pour GetIt sometime though. I tried last night and everyone had already left. This is my Zoom fear; joining a Zoom and there being only a couple people and I immediately regret my decision.

Live feeds from Instagram is huge right now. Lots of beer-related personalities and breweries have regular live feeds. I keep meaning to do it for the Perfect Pour. I’ve been enjoying Marc Maron’s, I have not poped in on too many other peeps yet.

Moody Beer With Moody Music

Listening to music and drinking some beers. Pretty damn relaxing. This is one that works well solo or with an agreeable mate. One band and one musician I have been playing a lot this week.

The Strokes have a new album “The New Abnormal” and it is a great, moody afternoon listen. I would call myself a fringe listener of The Strokes and I’m enjoying it on the Spotifys.

Folk musician, John Prine, passed away due to COVID. I knew the name but, I have to admit, wasn’t too familiar with his stuff. Started going through his music and discovered that I’m a fan. Marc Maron released an old episode of WTF with John, worth a listen.

Ship It Forward

Hope you live in a state like California that allows breweries to ship everywhere. My current California recommendations are:

You gotta really plop down some cash if you want Russian River at your door. At the moment I looked at the site, the only thing you can get is a $153 dollar case of Citra Flash Mob or Happy Hops or a mix of both. Plus some of their barrel-aged beers for even more. Seems steep but having Russian River delivered to your door also sounds pretty damn rad. Maybe that stimulus check could be used for one of these places.

Hope y0u’re able to get beer delivery at all, if you don’t live in California. In a shocker to nobody, drinking is up 42% because of the thing.

Some Travel and Beer Shipping Related Things I’ve Done

  • Gone through a drive-thru and Pine & Palm.
  • Had beer delivered to my door by Tioga Sequoia.
  • Done a drive-up at Zack’s Brewing.
  • Had some to-go takeout beer from Out Of The Barrel.
  • Did takeout beer from Tioga Sequoia with an online order.
  • Had a couple of growlers filled at Mad Duck Beer NW.

I have plans for getting something to-go from Amalgamation Brewing.

I got to-go food from Eureka Burger and somehow didn’t think about maybe getting a growler filled which is something you could not do before but now I bet you can.

I continue to buy from the markets I always buy from, The Market and Save Mart. I have not been into Whole Foods since this whole thing went down because they are having you wait in lines to get into the store. It’s something I support but also something I’m not taking the time to deal with yet. I’ll see you on the other side of this pandemic, I guess, Jeff Bezos.

Blogging Is Cool Again?

Today I discovered a new beer-related blog called The Retro Dad. I like how Shelter In Place has gotten some people back to blogging again. Even Matt from the Perfect Pour started blogging again and folks like Beth Demmon:

Take Care Of Yourself

Hope you are being safe as you can. Thank God we can still have beer in this madness. Enjoy the quiet time.

Stay safe. Feel free to leave a comment with your Pandemic Drinking Habits or any recommendations for breweries that are shipping now.

If you’d like to read my stuff in newsletter form, please be awesome and sign up for Drinking & Thinking.

-Mikey

Pizza and Beer: The Simple Guide To Pairing

Pizza and beer pairing Picture by TheWanderingGormet.com

The right beer to go with your pizza is not hard to figure out. That doesn’t mean we can’t help each other get better at beer and pizza.

You don’t need me to tell you, but, Pizza and beer is a thing. Maybe the biggest thing in the genre of pairing beer with food, and pizza with… well, anything.

Beer and pizza, while they may be two of the greatest things in the world, take up valuable calorie real estate.

So it is essential these calories are used properly. We want the optimal experience.

A Simple Guide To Pizza and Beer

But, before we go further with this post, here is a quick infographic that craftbeer.com has created, to get you quickly into your perfect pairing:

Craft Beer and Pizza pairing

Alright, now get cheesier with me and keep reading…

Beer and pizza pairing is serious.

Don’t go into your eating and drinking all willy nilly. Stay focused while enjoying all the goodness and comfort that beer and pizza provides.

The thing to keep in mind is finding a balance.

If the pizza is mild, bland, basic, then you go big, flavorful and spicy, on the beer.

If your are gorging on spicy pizza, you get a beer that is simple and mellow.

Here are five basic pizza styles to match up with the proper beer:

CHEESE PIZZA: Red Ale.

Alternatives include Wheat Beer. Ambers. Pilsners. Pales are good in this situation as well.

This is the best use of a red beer. In fact, I really don’t care to have a red without pizza around. I feel like it is a style that needs pizza or needs something else.

A red ale is like salsa. I suppose it is fine on its own but I need something to eat with it to actually enjoy it.

Maybe the best known red out here on the West Coast is the Karl Straus Red Trolley Ale. Well, best know if you have ever gone to Disneyland: California Adventure, that is and found the Karl Strauss Beer Cart.

California Adventure Beer Truck
Image from LAist.com

A magical cart it is. Find a slice of cheese pizza in the park and you are all set.

Continue reading “Pizza and Beer: The Simple Guide To Pairing”

Happy Hops IPA from Russian River Brewing, It’s A Thing!

Happy Hops IPA

I had no idea Russian River had a tribute beer called Happy Hops IPA. Glad I found out.

A friend from work spent some time in Santa Rosa recently (I like to call it “Pliny Town”) and went to Russian River Brewing every day. Dude isn’t even a big beer geek but he likes good beer, so of course, he went there as much as possible.

He surprised me when he came back with a bottle of Pliny the Elder (of course). Awesome because that is my all-time favorite and I don’t get to have it nearly enough.

But I quickly brushed it aside because next to that Pliny bottle was another Russian River bottle with a label I did not recognize. A new IPA from Russian River!?

A NEW beer!? Give that shit to me right now! Typical asshat beer geek.

That new beer is called Happy Hops IPA.

It is not totally new though. As the bottle states, Happy Hops is a tribute beer. A brewery in Santa Rosa called Grace Brother’s Brewery, made this beer in 1944. Unfortunately, the brewery closed in the 60s.

But RR brought this one back as respect to Santa Rosa brewing past. A pretty cool thing to do. I love when breweries do this kind of stuff.

Does it taste like an old IPA?

I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking it too: An IPA from 1944? It’s going to be malty AF! There is no way this could be up to my ever raising beer snob standards.

But Russian River, yo.

It’s good. Of course, it’s good, it’s freaking Russian River. Very clean. Not what I expected. Definitely would not consider it malty. That’s probably because Vinny from RR said (in a recent interview) that they blended some new world hops and tech to even things out.

Here is a brief video of me having a taste:

The hops used for Happy Hops

  • Amarillo.
  • Azacca.
  • Brewers gold.
  • Cashmere.

I could not tell you which hop is more pronounced but I feel like Amarillo is the one that gives it an updated feel.

Get this beer on your next trip to Russian River

While there won’t be a linefest anytime soon for this beer, it is definitely worthy of putting on your list of beers to try for your next Russian River pilgrimage.

Good news is they say that once the new production facility is up and running in Windsor, they will be making and packaging more of Happy Hops!