Pliny the Younger – More Exciting than Santa Claus

It’s “Younger” Time!!

Pliny the Younger is to beer loving adults like Santa Claus is to children under 10.

We make our plans for the day or days we will wait in line, make lists of what we will bring to occupy our time, and tell all of our friends how excited we are for the time to finally come. Well it’s almost here, on February 3rd, a week before SF Beer Week, the amazing hoppy- Triple IPA will come back to us.

From February 3-16th the “Younger” will be on draft at the pub and select draft accounts that Russian River has been supporting over the years. That list isn’t available yet, but regardless, if you can make it out here, get out here, and if you are local then you are blessed, so get in line!

Last year RRBC implemented a new policy, they are only allowing customers 3 hours in the pub and a maximum of 3 “Youngers”. This beer is 10.25% so for most of us, 3 is plenty! Then of course they make sure to fill up their beer board with other amazing beers so take your pick after to have the “Younger”. I recommend the taster tray, it’s all 20 beers for $22, it’s such a great way to try all of the Russian River brews!


Some advice from a seasoned “Younger Experience” person:

  • Get in line super early in the morning.
  • Arrive with your entire group and stay until they check you in.
  • Don’t cut in front of others who have been waiting in line, it’s super uncool and very elementary. You will be booed worse than Yasiel Puig at AT&T Park.
  • Bring warm weather clothes and rain gear, a chair, umbrella, snacks, extra/external battery charger for your phone, and a game of some sort.
  • Eat a decent size, filling breakfast and start your day off right.
  • Buy snacks from the business you are standing in front of, get your hair cut, buy product, eat, buy coffee, make a good impression so RRBC looks better to their neighbors.
  • Chat it up with your neighbors, meet new people, have fun, it makes the time go by faster.
  • Wear comfy shoes.
  • Have your food picked out in your mind so that when you get in, you can order lunch or dinner right away. I recommend the wings, New Yorker, Mikey, Excel, grilled cheese, and the caesar salad.
  • Don’t be foolish, don’t drink in line, don’t make a “roadie” and get all buzzed before you get into the pub. Just DON’T do it. It’s actually illegal to drink in public and have an open container in the city of Santa Rosa, so just leave it at home and wait until you get in for the awesome beers. An open container ticket can just be bad news bears and totally embarrassing in front of everyone else in line. More than all of the dumb things Yasiel Puig says or does in front of the booing fans.
  • Drinks lots of water!!! Normally, you should be drinking 8-10 glasses per day, when you drink high alcohol beer you need more water. Use the 1 to 1 ol’ ratio: 1 glass of water for each glass of beer. You’ll thank me later.
  • Take pictures, for some of you, this may only happen once in your lifetime! For those that are lucky enough to come often for the release, help others have a more enjoyable time, offer to take their pictures, move out of their way so they can get a shot of the brewpub or whatever the shot may be.
  • Don’t smoke around the crowd of people. Don’t smoke in line. I don’t want cancer and neither does anyone else. You actually need to be at least 20 feet from the buildings according to Santa Rosa city ordinance, so after you get checked in, take a minute, if you must smoke, and walk to the parking lot and do your business.
  • Be polite.
  • Tip your server. GENEROUSLY. They are working extra hard and putting up with a lot over these two weeks. They’re all KICKASS , treat them well. 
  • If you do not drink your allotted “Youngers”, don’t give your tabs away to someone else, it’s not allowed, it’s frowned upon and you will be asked to leave if you are caught.


Pliny the Younger only comes out once a year, it’s well worth the plane ticket, the long wait in line, and the miles you’ll need to drive to get here. It’s heavily hopped, has lots of malts, and is high alcohol but it’s always smooth and hop-forward with hints of malt.

As a local, I wait in line every year, sometimes 3-4 times during the two week period. “Younger” comes out around my birthday so I personally feel like it’s a really great gift to me. It also holds a special spot in my heart because in 2013 my “Younger experience” dictated where I was going on my honeymoon. Vinnie and Natalie were mailed a case of Hop Slam and asked to slam one on opening day and after they did, they gave us one. We fell in love with that beer and headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a part of our honeymoon to visit Bell’s Brewery. If you see us at the pub, you may just hear my husband tell that story, it’s one of his favorites to tell!

Vinnie and Natalie at RRBC in 2013.




Drink Up, it’s Time for SF Beer Week

SF Beer week is one of my favorite times of the year; it’s my birthday and I get to enjoy copious amounts of amazing beers from all across the Bay Area and beyond. Beer week is an action packed week filled with beer dinners, beer pairings, educational seminars with brewers and brewery owners, sensory seminars with hops, tap takeovers at various bars and gastropubs throughout the Bay Area, and many events at the source- at the breweries. There are hundreds of options with over 100 breweries in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and the North Bay, we have a lot to choose from.

Drink up, it’s Sf Beer Week!
(Photo courtesy of SF Beer Week media kit)

So how do you pick what to do? As a seasoned beer traveler and planner, I highly recommend you sign up for the itinerary on first. This will allow you to look at each of the events that brewers chose to list and what the San Francisco Brewers Guild are promoting. Find something you like, you simple click, “add to my itinerary”. It’s a great way to be able to check out what you’re interested in each day.


Secondly, these events fill up fast so if there is a need for a reservation or to purchase tickets, do it now. There are over 100 breweries out there and even more restaurants who will be hosting dinners and tap takeovers, but there are even more beer lovers who wish to attend. Get in where you want to get in.


Buy your tickets for the SF Beer Week Opening Gala NOW. Friday, February 10th at 6PM is quite possibly the best beer event in Northern California and you want to be there. This event is well attended by all of the breweries and they have saved their special brews to be showcased that night, for you. Don’t let them down! Get your tickets.


My beer week recommendations:


Russian River Brewing Co. – February 3rd. Well if I didn’t mention this then you would think I didn’t know anything about beer because anyone who knows beer, knows that Russian River Brewing Company is releasing the long awaited triple IPA, Pliny the Younger. It’s released once a year for two weeks and they do it in conjunction with beer week. They will be releasing this delicious beer on February 3rd at the pub. The brewers will be bringing it to the opening gala as well, so there should be plenty of chances for you try it.

St. Florian’s Brewery 4 Year Anniversary – February 11th from 12-8PM, they’ll be serving up great eats from various food trucks and vendors, as well as pouring new beers, and there will be live music. More information to come, but this is a good one to get on your list if you find yourself in the North Bay.

Social Kitchen’s Friday Morning Beer Brunch – February 11th from 10:30AM-2:30PM. I LOVE this place, I love the atmosphere, I love the food, and I love the beer. I also really love brunch, it’s my favorite meal of the day and I feel like it does not get the chance to make an appearance as often as it should, so why not indulge on a Saturday?!

Monk’s Kettle: United Sours of America – February 11th from 11Am-11PM.

The Monk’s Kettle is a super cool beer bar and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a little time sipping on one of craft beers latest favored beer style.

Swann’s Oyster Depot Collaboration with Woods Beer Co. – February 11th

12-5PM. Have you ever been to Swann’s? It’s AH-MAZ-ING! It’s a hole-in-the-wall little spot that you squeeze into, sit at the counter, and are served by all men who have worked there for generations. They serve fresh food daily and when they run out, it’s out. It’s so worth it, and paired with beer, well, duh.

Ale Arsenal’s Alvarado Street Tap Takeover – February 11th from 3-8PM.

Alvarado Street is putting out some incredible brews, this is surely not going to be a disappointing way to spend some time.

Almanac Beer Co.’s Stonefruit Night – February 11th from 3-11PM.

They will be hosting a series of events throughout the week, enjoy a walk down memory lane with the folks at Almanac as you taste through countless vintages of their special sours.

The Good Hop and Smog City’s Bay Invasion – February 11th from 5-11PM

I have enjoyed many Smog City beers down in the smoggy city of angels and I cannot wait to try this lineup!

WHAT’S ON DRAFT: Little Bo Pils, Hoptonic IPA, Sabre-Toothed Squirrel, Coffee Porter, My Tai Hop-T IPA with Coconut, Chip Shot Coffee Porter, Cuddlebug, Bourbon O.E., Buzz Worthy, Benny And The Bretts, The Nothing, Infinite Wishes, AND MORE!

Alpha Acid Brewing Company IPA Day – February 12th 1-6PM.

Because, well, duh. Single, double, and triple IPA’s will be flowing. Nuf said.

Cellarmaker and the Rare Barrel Collaboration Release – February 12th from 1-8PM.

Join in on the fun at the Rare Barrel in Berkeley. These two breweries blow my mind on their own, I cannot wait to see what they’ve come up for this!

Social Kitchen’s Brett Fest – February 13th from 4-11:30PM.

6 bretty beers tasted side-by-side. Yes, please!

Here are the beers:

  1. Day Day’s Tripel Double: Belgian Tripel, brewed with rye, aged in red wine barrels for 6 months with Brettanomyces Trois Vrai. Further aged in stainless for 10 more months.
  2. Raps on Brett: Our beloved Belgian golden ale, Rapscallion, conditioned in keg with the Brettanomyces Amalgamation blend from Yeast Bay laboratories.
  3. Cloud Cover: Belgian wheat ale conditioned in keg with the Brettanomyces Amalgamation blend from Yeast Bay Laboratories.
  4. (name still TBD): Belgian dark strong aged in red wine barrels for 13 months with Brett Claussenii.
  5. The Rice is Right, Beersel Blend: Jasmine rice Belgian Tripel keg conditioned with the Brettanomyces Beersel blend from Yeast Bay Laboratories.
  6. The Rice is Right, Lochristi Blend: Jasmine rice Belgian Tripel keg conditioned with the Brettanomyces Lochristi blend from Yeast Bay Laboratories.


Dear Mom I love Calicraft – February 15th from 4-9PM.

This just sounds intriguing and I have not been here before, so I’m gonna check it out. Sours, IPAs and secret stuff.

Rare Barrel Jester King Tap Takeover – February 15th from 7:30-10PM.

If you have not yet tried the beers from this brewery out of Texas, then get here to try them.

Fogbelt Brewing End of Beer Week Brunch – February 19th from 10Am-2PM.

Brunch will be served until 2PM for those who need a little help with the beer week hangover. I can’t wait, they do a great job in the kitchen and have some killer beers coming out, so I will be parking myself there for the afternoon!  
So you have some official SF Beer Week events and my recommendations. There are many unofficial events going on in Sonoma County, so check back with me and I’ll keep you up to date with deets.

Kona Brewing Company- Big Island

We went to Kona Brewing on Oahu and that was great- the view was spectacular. This brewery is the main one, it’s pretty sweet: they have good food: pizzas, tacos, salads. It’s all tasty. The beers are delicious. They have a gift shop right at the entrance {brilliant} where they sell the hydroflasks and then you can go and fill them up for $5 at the growler shack. Love this place.

Follow Kona Brewing Company

Kona Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Big Island Brewhaus

Big Island Brewhaus

On a rainy drive back from Hilo to Kona we decided to take a detour and hit the big Island Brewhaus. The Overbourd IPA we had picked up from the market across from where we are staying and fell in love. Unlike a traditional “Brewhaus” this place is Santa Cruz meets Jamaica and makes a baby in Hawaii. It’s super low key, hippie-esc, down-to-earth {no pun intended} and makes some incredible beers. It’s a mexican restaurant and a brewery. The food menu is pretty extensive and inexpensive. We tried a snack: the nachos with shredded chicken. Good flavors but the chips were soggy from the juice from the chicken {they must have been built then put in the broiler to melt the cheese}, there were about 9 chips on the plate, they were big but still unlike a nacho plate… the beers: they had 14 beers on tap. They do samplers of five 3.5 ounce tastes for $6 and some change. We tried them all. The Pau Hana Pale Ale, Panilolo Pale Ale, White Mountain Porter {so odd that I would like a porter but this was light bodied, with a nice clean finish of caramel and toasted nuts. It was fantastic.}, and of course the Overboard IPA.

We sat inside and listened to the music of the live band just outside on the covered patio. We ended up chatting with a sweet couple: Sandy and “Big” Earl. Nice people. Sandy resembled my hubbies mom a lot and that was kind of a cool thing since it was always her thing to come to Hawaii as a family. And Earl was a hoot. He had clearly traveled all over and lived in many places, he had stories about it all. Nice folks, the kind I always enjoy meeting when we travel.

The Brewhaus is well worth the drive where ever you are staying on the island.


Big Island Brewhaus & Tako Taco Taqueria on Urbanspoon

AC Golden Brewing Company

A brewery within a brewery…Technically, being inside the Miller-Coors brewery, we passed by and saw the AC Golden brewing section, therefore this made it on our list of breweries for #beertravel.

It’s a small barrel operation within the Miller-Coors Brewery.
The AC Golden, named for Adolf Coors, the original creator of Coors brewing company in Golden, Colorado.

A delicious craft beer aged with cherries. A hidden gem… Literally. This beer is difficult to find, many whom I tweeted to had no idea of its existence even. It’s a rare find but if you have the chance, it’s worth the price!


Miller-Coors Brewing

Now I could not go to Colorado and not take the Coors tour! Or as my family liked to call it, ” the Cerrs terr”

The have everything very well organized. You walk up to the bus stop area and the wait was a little over an hour to ride the bus over to the entrance. They have the whole outside set up with misters to keep everyone happy and cool. The bus driver gave us the whole lowdown and the rules for the brewery and the lounge at the end.

There are only three rules:  Do not share your samples with anyone, do not give your sample away even if you do not like it, and do not take anyone’s sample even when they’re not looking.

The rules seemed to help regulate those rambunctious types…like me!

The brewery is totally a tourist attraction and set up much like the Empire State Building or the Seattle Space Needle is: learn the rules, go take a silly photo with a Coors like cowboy hat {to be viewed later with not one but four fun backgrounds}, get your little audio device to walk around with at your own pace, sample mid tour, then end at the lounge and the gift shop where you’ll inevitably buy things you never knew you wanted. Yep, that’s what we did. I even bought a coors tee shirt for the heck of it.

It was so cool to see all of the old school advertisements displayed on the wall from way back in the day. It was cool to see the progression of advertising too especially from such a huge, highly distributed brand.

A favorite:













I must say it was pretty surprising that we did not have to pay one dime for the tour, the samples, and the beers at the end of the tour. Even though we were told there was no charge for the tour, I couldn’t help but think I should expect to pay somewhere, but nope. Three free beers at the end of the tour too and soda or lemonade for the little. The beer is MUCH better at the source and it was quite interesting seeing the whole process and learning about how Coors started. It’s so rich in Colorado history and even their staff now, they all seem to be pretty passionate about who they are and what they do. I have new found appreciation for the Coors brand. I don;t mind me a Coor light every now and then, but I am certainly not converted. It was a fun tour though.

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One of the greatest things that really gets me so excited about beer travel is when the breweries tweet back to me or comment on my instagram photos! I love it and the Miller-Coors brand was spot on and responsive! Cheers to brewery number 233!








Beer Craft, quite possibly the greatest place on earth… at least in Sonoma County

Four years ago today my hubby and made it official {as official as you can be before marriage :)} and we celebrated our love by going to our favorite beer shop. Beer Craft officially opened their tap room today and had their “Grand Opening”.  Until today my husband and I {along with many others} have “unofficially” been drinking beers on tap but today, today they put up their “A” list of craft beers on the chalk board. These A-listers consisted of  Beachwood BBQ & Brewery’s Hop Jitsu IPA, Stone Brewing Grapefruit Slam DIPA, Monkey Paw DIPA, Speakeasy Getaway White IPA, Almanac Brandy Barrel aged Peche {AMAZING}, Dust Bowl Soul Crusher, Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout {it really is rich and tastes delicious, sort of like a milk shake. A must try!}, Firestone Walkers Seventeenth Anniversary Ale {Wow.}, Great Divide Yeti.. to name a few.

Great beers on tap is nothing out of the norm for these guys but this line up is by far the best yet {course they planned it that way}. Not that you should feel sorry for them but, JT has to drive miles and miles to pick up these tasty brews for us to enjoy, so a lot of work goes into this. But who wouldn’t want to drive from brewery to brewery for a living to pick out awesome beers to share with people who love coming into your shop to spend money, drink beer, and talk about beer?! I know I would! BUT since I don’t have a beer shop, we visit breweries and share bottles with them and hope that one day we can drink those beers on draft at their shop :). IMAGE_112.jpg










They do have a fantastic beer club: a bag of four beers each month. They always have a phenomenal selection of craft beer in each bag and they limit the club because many of the beers they get are allocated and they want to be able to give the goods to all of the club. This month was my dream month: IPA’s and Brett + Saison. I don’t think I have been so happy when picking up a selection EVER. The beer club is a steal and just hearing the guys explanation of each beer, each month is enough for me to want to keep coming back.












If you think about going to visit this week, Beer Craft is on the list for #SFBeerWeek so you can check into a beer there on Untappd and get your badge {must check into two locations}. I went twice and finally got my badge today, phew… I was worried that I was not going to get it. Must be good luck.











Cheers to Beer Craft!



Napa Point Brewing Company: changing the brewery scene? I hope not….

At first approach, we had a great impression, “beer here” and other signs screamed at us that we were in fact going the right way as we were driving through the warehouse/industrial area leading us right to the correct spot. On more than fifty occasions my husband and I were led to he wrong location either by the bouncy blue dot on our google map or the mark on the nearby map on untapped.  Many breweries really lack in the signage area so it was fantastic to be certain were in the right place.

We were sat in the very center of the room where the door opening every five minutes brought in a chilled breeze. All of the tables on the outside of the room were empty but three so with both of us being in the industry we thought, “hmmm…. Why sit us in the middle and not fill in the window seats?”. Not to mention, I was shivering the entire time. Plus, with just us being in the center of the room, it sort of felt like we were in the way of everything.

Napa Point BreweryWe ordered a sampler and right away we were not able to taste all of the beers, they had restrictions so we had to ask in a round-about way to be able to taste all six of their current beers. We were told we could not sample all of their beers because of licensing issues.  We were charged for one sampler (of four beers) then for two samples at $2 each. The cost was normal, the way she presented it to us confusing. Of all of the breweries we have been to it’s customary to taste all beers for $1-$2 per sample. I would highly recommend they adopt that policy.

Our server was nice and friendly but very pushy. We ordered a caesar salad ($11) she asked if we wanted to add chicken, yes. We ordered a burger ($16) for my youngest son and I ordered the French dip ($14) which she asked if I wanted to sub the slaw out for fries for an additional $1. I said no thank you. So odd that you’d have to pay extra for fries at a brewery.
After she took our orders she continued to ask if we wanted to order anything to start and went on to list three of their items that did sound tasty but with the price of everything else, no thanks and secondly, if I wanted a starter, I would have started with the starter….I understand the whole up-sell thing but sometimes it’s too much. Perhaps it works for them but I felt it was un-brewery like.

Napa Point BreweryMy French dip had two thin slices of meat on it but the bread was fresh. It was bland in taste and nothing special at all. I would have preferred a big greasy burger or nachos.
The littles caesar salad had chicken that tasted undercooked (it was poached) and it was an extra $4 charge for that chicken {could not have been more than 4 ounces}, bringing his wilted “caesar salad” to a whopping $15. I use the quotes for the caesar because the salad was mostly the leafy green from the lettuce {not traditional caesar} and it was not real Parmesan cheese on top and for that price, it should have been.

My other little had the $16 burger and it was burnt. He said to me, “Jess, this really is burnt. You should write about this,  I would tell them ‘no’ if they asked me if I would try it again”. This is not a picky kid, I mean, he burns his mac n cheese sometimes and eats it. This was a complete disappointment. He was offered condiments: BBQ sauce but for $1 extra.
She didn’t even bring catsup or mustard to the table. We wondered later if that too was $1 extra.

With the whole experience being ruined by the overpriced food and irritation that anything extra was $1, we all sat there and talked about the other many breweries we have been to across the U.S. and compared. My husband is a growler maniac, he has to have them from everywhere we go. So I bet him that the one here at Napa Point (after the experience) was $20 empty and $18 to fill. He was so confident that it was $24 total {depending on the beer}. Well…. Let’s just say I was the one getting a high-five from our kids for being SPOT on about the cost. In the beer industry, in California, we would be paying $38 for OK beer and to take home a piece of glass {that I know cost them under $10} to promote them further and come back to fill it? No thank you.

The growlers ended up not even for sale filled anyhow. The server (of course) said that we could buy the glass and call them every week to find out if we could fill it that week! And drive out there for their beer and service? I don’t think we would be able to afford to travel for other wonderful craft beers if we made a habit of visiting Napa Point. The beer is alright but for the prices ($6 for one pint….) the beer should be exceptional. It is just outrageous to expect people to pay that much for draft at the source anyway. They need to branch out and visit some other breweries to find out how it’s really done or I imagine they will not be around very long. Yes, it’s Napa Valley but it is the Craft Beer Industry!

The best part about my visit to Napa Point was my Untappd badge I got while there.

Untappd badge


Napa Point Brewing on Urbanspoon

Woodfour Brewing

Excited to go to the new Barlow in Sebastopol on the way out to Bodega Bay with the family, we tried out the new brewery: Woodfour.  I was ever so disappointed in the entire experience at Woodfour Brewing. The setting lead me to believe that their food and beer were both high end and thus I thought, “good”. We ordered the deviled eggs, chips and garlic dip {which was good but certainly not for the price and the “jar of pickles” {well, I have seen some eccentric things and I know there are different types of all vegetables but those “jar of pickles” were a small “jar o’ carrots”. What a let down if you are a person who loves pickles… if you know me, I LOVE all kinds but not when they are carrots trying to be pickles.

Thank goodness ZaZu was across the way.

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Now for the beer: I have been to many breweries and had {checked into on Untapped at least} over 1,100 unique beers. I have not ever been to a place where I could not even palette any of the beers. I was so bummed that not one beer did I even want to take a full sip- it was literally a dip your finger in the beer kind of taste and there was still the “ick” face being made.

Just like every other place, I will give it another chance especially because I see there ratings on Untapped and I think, “Maybe I tried a bad batch?”

We did a sampler of these beers: Berliner Weisse, Session Ale, Imperial Saison, Barrel Fermented Summer Ale, Belgian Dubbel, Roggenbier, Brown Ale, Wheat Stout.




Woodfour Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon