NORTH COAST: Humboldt County

As an antidote for all the holiday hustle and bustle, my wife and I decided to take a quick year-end road trip. Of course, to me this means beer trip.

I set my sites on Humboldt County and Southern Oregon, since I haven’t tasted in those regions.

It’s a six hour drive from our house to Eureka, so naturally my first stop was in Healdsburg for lunch at Bear Republic.

I’ve been here several times and it never disappoints.

I love their Brewers Mac & Cheese; what a tasty lunch! I paired it with something different than my usual IPA…I tried their winter warmer Old Saint Chango. Loved the hint of Mexican chocolate.

20131230-095622.jpgBear Republic’s Mac & Cheese

We hit our first Humboldt destination, Eel River Brewing, at 4:20 p.m. (seemed appropriate). There was a lively crowd watching the final 49ers game of regular season.

We chose to treat Humboldt County as a “progressive dinner,” so we ordered an appetizer (potato skins) and a sampler of five beers.

  • Acai Berry Wheat
  • California Blonde Ale
  • Organic Amber Ale
  • Organic IPA
  • Organic Porter
  • Everything Eel River brews is organic and all tasted fresh. All five beers were good, but the Porter was the best of the bunch.

    20131230-095958.jpgThe crowd at Eel River
    20131230-100006.jpgMy Eel River flight

    The next stop was Lost Coast Brewery in the heart of Eureka. This was to be the biggest disappointment of the day.

    The restaurant was busy. It’s in an old building and I noticed a variety of odd scents (non-food) as we entered.

    We ordered clam chowder and salad here. I decided against the sampler of 10 beers and instead ordered their Indica IPA.

    Oddly, I never got my beer! That was a first…going to a beer joint and the beer order disappears. Probably a good thing, as the Lost Coast beers I’ve had in the past have never ranked very high on my list.

    We finished our first course and headed on.

    20131230-100340.jpgThe crowd at Lost Coast
    20131230-100347.jpgMy empty coaster at Lost Coast

    Next stop: Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake.

    This was a nice comfortable pub, a place where a local could hang out and socialize.

    No food here, but I sampled five serviceable brews.

  • Steelhead Extra Pale Ale
  • Jamaica Brand Sunset IPA
  • Steelhead Double IPA
  • Steelhead Extra Stout
  • Gimme S’more
  • The Gimme S’more stout was a treat.

    20131230-100621.jpgMad River Brewing
    20131230-100628.jpgMy flight at Mad River Brewing

    On to our dinner course at Six Rivers Brewery, the second female-owned brewery in California.

    Even though we arrived after 8 p.m. on a Sunday, we had a 45 minute wait. There was a youthful, vocal crowd and it was trivia night.

    The service wasn’t as bad as some of the Yelp reviews suggested (although the hostess was a little sour).

    We decided to share some nachos with tri tip and I ordered a half flight of beers:

  • Six Rivers IPA
  • Sasquatch Double IPA
  • Hammond Trail Cream Ale
  • Strong Blonde
  • Yule Winter Spiced Ale
  • I was disappointed by the IPAs. Neither were hoppy at all. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the Yule Ale. It had a enjoyable blend of spices.

    20131230-100854.jpgThe crowd at Six Rivers
    20131230-100901.jpgMy flight at Six Rivers
    20131230-100908.jpgThe enormous nachos!

    We booked a room at the historic Eureka Inn.

    It’s a cool old hotel, reminiscent of the hotel in The Shining!

    Super big rooms but cold as Hell! Bring extra blankets if you stay here in winter. Although, what I found in the nightstand led me to believe they expected us to keep warm another way.

    20131230-101158.jpgAt least it was still in the wrapper!

    Cheers!

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    Great time at 6th annual Raley Field Brewfest

    Okay, here’s my first real attempt at blogging.

    I was able to attend the 6th annual Raley Field Brewfest in West Sacramento last night with my friend John. This was my first time at this brewfest and I was impressed.

    This was the first time the event was held on the field. It was held on the concourse in past years. All the breweries were lined up along the outfield wall with the music stage at second base. I really enjoyed this setup as I had a clear view of all the beer choices plus the outfield provided ample room to mingle, eat and relax to the music.

    This event, a partnership between Raley Field and the Northern California Brewer’s Guild, showcase 50+ Northern California Breweries, the best the BAY AREA, GOLD COUNTRY and NORTH COAST regions have to offer.

    I went into this brewfest with a strategy. I would only taste beers not readily available to me (so no Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, or Anderson Valley) and I would keep a log of my tastes (I kept the log, but neglected to make tasting notes!).

    I wanted to branch out tasting different styles other than my favorite India Pale Ale, but when I looked at my list I still had six IPAs on the list.

    Last night’s tastes were:

    Auburn Alehouse PU240 Imperial IPA
    Mad River Jamaica Red Ale
    Eel River Organic IPA (I was hoping Mad River, Eel River or Lost coast would have some Saison du Humboldt!!!)
    High Water Hop Riot IPA
    Heretic Evil Cousin IPA (very hoppy)
    Berryessa Double Tap IPA (this one blew me away, not what I was expecting, but amazing)
    Ol’ Republic Biere de Garde
    Track 7 Soulman Stout
    Riley’s Wildcat IPA
    American River Coloma Brown

    A couple of notes on the festival:

    1. Don’t buy your ticket online. My $30 ticket cost more than $44 once Ticketmaster added it’s fees!
    2. The outfield location has one disadvantage — it’s a bit of a hike to the bathrooms on the concourse.
    3. Food was lacking. The only option (other than a cheese booth) was the stadium food. Choices were hot dogs, burgers, black bean burger, and chips. Add some local food vendors!!
    4. Music provided by The Remedies was good, but I would add a band or two.

    Overall, a good festival. I plan to return for the 7th annual event next year.