Sip on a Cold One While Soaking up the Sunshine this Season

8 Sonoma County Breweries to Hangout at this Season

This time of year marks the start of the seasons we in Sonoma County all know and love – the days are cool, the sun shines to keep us warm, the grass and mountainsides are green, and the sky is blue… what could be better? A nice cold brew on a beautiful patio, that’s what!

 

Here are eight Sonoma breweries to while away the hours of the day: read the full article here on Sonoma Magazine.

 

cheers to sunny days!

~Moxie

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.

 

Cheers!

Moxie

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 sfbeerweek.com 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.

Russian River Brewing Company is “All Hopped Up For The Cure”

The Russian River Brew Pub crew and local visitors are no strangers to the mass crowds lining up outside of the pub. Pliny the Elder brings people here to Santa Rosa from all over the world. Pliny the Younger, in February, has people “tailgating” with their chairs, blankets, and food, waiting for hours on end to have a 10 ounce pour of the amazing triple IPA. This time of year, the month of October, it is a little different; it’s about the release of the “Framboise for the Cure” but to Natalie Cilurzo is much bigger than that, it’s about helping those in need, people suffering from breast cancer and their families.

Framboise for the Cure

The 2016 batch of Framboise for the Cure. On draft at the pub only. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Natalie and Vinnie have been raising money for breast cancer charities since 2005.  The Sutter Pacific Medical Center has been the recipient since 2007. They have a special connection the cause: a very dear friend of Natalie and Vinnie’s lost his wife to breast cancer in 2003. “I knew I could not help her even when she was still fighting cancer, but I was motivated to show my support and try to help others in the process.  Although Sheri has been gone for 13 years, I have been touched by hundreds of people affected by all kinds of cancers and other terrible diseases. It keeps me going.”    

During the entire month of October, they hold a fundraiser; “All Hopped Up For The Cure.”  A friend of the Cilurzo’s, Timmy Lavold donated a gorgeous custom bass guitar that hangs in front of the large menu board at the center of the pub. Guests can purchase raffle tickets for $10 each or three for $25. The Bike Peddler donated a pink Electra Cruiser and those tickets can be purchased for $5 each or five for $20. Buy your tickets at the pub through any of the bartenders, servers, or hostess. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the pub at 707.545.2337 or by emailing Info@rrbeer.com. The raffle will be called on October 27th during the Wild Card Belly Dance event. Don’t worry, if you cannot make it to the show and your name is called, they will contact you, no need to be present to win. This is a super fun event, so try to make it out! 

Guitar at Russian River Brew Pub. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Guitar at Russian River Brew Pub. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

In 2010 the Framboise was introduced into the mix and released at the pub in bottles and served in 13 ounce belgian style goblets for $8. The base of the Framboise is Temptation and Sonambic aged with two pounds of organic, California grown raspberries per gallon. This year, the bottling schedule was too tight and they were unable to bottle Framboise (blame it on Pliny!). For locals and visitors, that just means they will probably have this on draft for longer. New this year, growlers can be filled and purchased for those who would like to share this tasty beer with friends and family. New growlers are $60 and refills (Russian River growlers only) are $51. They also have NEW 32 ounce  stainless growlers for those wanting to travel light- check ’em out, they rad.

Pick up your  2016 “Hopped Up For The Cure” tee shirts at the pub and online. They have a nice variety and something for everyone. 100% of the proceeds of “Hopped UP” shirts, growlers, pints, and raffle tickets will be donated to Sutter Pacific Medical Center. Last year Natalie and Vinnie wrote a check for over $143,000!!

Spence showing off the "Hopped Up for the Cure" shirts.

Spence showing off the “Hopped Up for the Cure” shirts.

The barrel housing the raffle ticket mullah at the pub. (photo by Tim Vallery)

The barrel housing the raffle ticket mullah at the pub. (photo by Tim Vallery)

This may possibly be the last year of the fundraiser for a few years. Natalie and Vinnie have to focus on construction of their new brewery in Windsor and brewing the beer!! If you have not been to the Belly Dance show yet, make it happen, it pretty entertaining. All ages are welcome, but the pub, as most of you may know, can get very crowded, so if you have kids, then try to go early to get a table. Go on out and support this great cause. The beer is delicious too! 

Russian River Brew Pub, 725 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, 707.545.2337, @russianriverbrewingofficial

 

Russian River Brewery- My Neighborhood Hangout Spot

Over the last several years I have traveled to over 370 breweries across the U.S. and written about the various beers, taprooms, people, and food. I have been asked why I have yet to write about Russian River, the best brewery in the U.S. and my neighborhood hangout….I have been pondering what exactly I should share about RRBC. Blind Pig is my favorite IPA just doesn’t quite seem like enough…but it is true and it’s the best craft brew made.

I have been bellying up to that bar for many years now, and had my fair share of time spent in line waiting for Younger, and popped in right at opening to try to obtain the “big bottle” days in a row… and finally I realized what the craft beer community needs to know about my beloved RRBC is not what everyone around the world thinks they know or reads about in the press.

After careful thought, I finally have something to share about one of my favorite places: it’s a wholesome locals spot, the bartenders are human, they like to educate people, they do get offended by rudeness, and the kitchen only has one oven so the pizzas and Pliny bites do take time. I am always amazed at how people just expect RRBC to be this magical place that can make pints and food simply appear and how people get angry when they cannot get the beer at home, or when the release gets blabbed about so they cancel it. Downtown Santa Rosa has some businesses that probably complain about the lines. Guess what? During Younger this year I never waited in line once, I was not the first to try it this year, or any year, but I was able to drive by a few times after work and miraculously there was no line, so I went in to indulge. For the beatification bottle release when there was a line around the entire block, I stayed away and drove passed around 2pm and went in only to have Amir ask if we wanted 6 or 12. They still had it. So if you’re looking for the excitement of waiting in line {like a tailgate with friends} then do it, otherwise, wait until the excitement dies down and you can go in without a huge line!

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The bartenders have finally warmed up to my husband and me and I’m not going to lie, it definitely makes the experience much more enjoyably. They’re funny, nice, make small talk, and even have Blind Pig in a glass before we can walk to the end of the bar. It’s sort of like my favorite coffee shop…or Cheers. We all wanna go where everybody knows our name, right?

I love the pizza, even if the crust is a little soft one day, I still love it using a knife and fork. The Mickey, New Yorker, and Mama Mia are my favs. The Drew bites are must if you are looking for a snack, but ask for them served flat. Health nut? The Asian chicken salad is dynamite.

I’ve gone to many of the events they put on over the years: the Friendship lunch was by far at the top of my list of favorites; a nearly 8 hour day eating food and drinking amazing beers. Any menu that had Pliny as the palate cleanser is bound to be amazing. Vinnie and Natalie took a photo at the release of Younger one year drinking Hop Slam and Vinnie gave one to my husband. We ended up going to Bell’s that April on our craft beer and baseball honeymoon.

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Every trip we go on, we always bring a case of Pliny to give to people who are nice, give us good service, and are just downright cool people {who actually know of Pliny- surprisingly, there are many who do not know about RRBC}. Once in NYC at a cool beer bar and pizza place, Kiabacca, we ended up there every night on that trip, the bartenders knew us by day 2 and were super cool and knowledgeable. We put a Pliny on the bar and the light in the bartenders eyes, man, it was epic. One of the guys actually started to tear up he was so happy.

Some tips in making everyone’s experience at RRBC more enjoyable:

  1. Leave your growlers in your car until you’re ready to go {Especially if you have more that two} the space is limited at the bar. If you have a table, then suit yourself.
  2. If you’re sitting at the bar, make your case purchases when you’re ready to cash out so others around you are not crowded.
  3. The seat at the end of the bar is for one person, not two.
  4. If you put your name on the list for a table and you find a seat outside or at the bar, let the host know so others can take the table.
  5. Order your pizza and bites right away so that if the kitchen is really busy, you’re food should be out by the first sip of your second beer.
  6. You do not have to finish every sample in the entire sampler, but you should get the full sampler, it’s the best in my opinion out of 368 breweries. It’s worth the $22.
  7. WASH your growler.
  8. Don’t even think about bringing in another breweries growler, RRBC will not fill anyone else and they have asked that other breweries do not fill theirs.
  9. Bring your I.D. other wise you will get a pizza stamp 🙁 http://jessposhepny.com/category/moxies-best-of/

I’m thrilled that I have such a cool place to go grab a bite to eat and a pint right in my backyard. Cheers to great beer!

 

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