The Mess That Is Being An Indie Beer Geek: Grocery Store Isle

It is not easy being a craft beer geek. Especially when we are experiencing a down cycle of sorts. It’s extra hard when you only drink Indie Beer.

A trip the store gets more gut-wrenching every time.

At one time we thought craft beer was going to keep getting more and more shelf space as people become aware of what good tasting local and independent beer is all about.

Sadly, Big Beer fought back against this buy buying out a large portion of the formally craft breweries that were big enough to get into the grocery stores (the holy grail for a small brewery).

Nothing exposes the suck of being a beer geek more than going to the grocery store or being in a restaurant that doesn’t have great beer.

Do you buy a ‘situational beer’ (a beer you would not drink or buy normally but are in a tight spot and it needs to happen) or do you not buy anything at all.

I’d like to breakdown why it can be so difficult at the grocery store for us poor souls that stick to their independent beer guns.

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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!