5 Sonoma Breweries Wine Lovers Should Visit

For as long as people have been drinking beer and wine, beer has been regarded the inferior beverage. Wine is “classy,” it takes time to craft and age, a refined palate to appreciate, and is often paired with fine food. Beer is less expensive, often comes in a can, and you can find it anywhere. But, with craft beer now taking the center stage – even in Wine Country – many connoisseurs are heading out to explore hoppy drinks.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE AND VIEW THE SLIDE SHOW ON SONOMAMAG.COM 

Current Changes with Ratebeer.com – What Does it Mean for Craft Breweries and Craft Drinkers?

The AB-InBev lineup. (The Drum)

Last October Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired a minority stake in the popular consumer rating/review website RateBeer.com. This acquisition has raised a lot of questions and controversy around special interest and conflict of interest among breweries and press. There have been a lot of streams on Facebook where people are sharing concerns about what will happen to the RateBeer Best Festival. And locally, people who knew the folks from Ratebeer, the questions are, “why are we finding this out now if this acquisition occurred back in October, just before the Ratebeer Best Awards Festival.

After the dust has settled and the shock factor is subsiding, people are wondering, “what does this mean for RateBeer now” Many pillars of the craft beer community have spoken and the general consensus is many craft beer drinkers, industry professionals, and brewers just cannot support RateBeer any longer. Here are some thoughts from craft beer lovers and supporters from both our local area and across the U.S. RateBeer is utilized all around the globe by beer lovers and  breweries to promote the beers people are enjoying along with reviews and ratings to share. Here is an insider look at what some craft beer supporters are concerned about with the recent news:

The minority stake sale of RateBeer to AB Inbev is disappointing. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Joe Tucker and what he has accomplished over the years. That being said, AB Inbev is a company with a lengthy history of bad business practices and one that will do whatever it takes to destroy the competition. We must continue to be educated about, and supportive of, the businesses that support innovation and growth within the industry, not stifle it. Unfortunately, RateBeer is now among the AB Inbev family and I cannot continue to support it.” says Greg Coll, General Manager at Fogbelt Brewing and creator of Black and White Beer Ball an Ales for Autism fundraiser.

I think the premise of journalistic integrity and ethics should be applied here, for sure.
At the end of the day, Joe has used RateBeer as a platform for dialogue amongst the community, facilitating discussions on how ‘big beer’ has actively hindered the industry. In my opinion he should have been completely transparent about the deal when discussions began, and if for some reason that was not allowed due to legal reasons, then that should have also been fully disclosed as soon as possible.” expressed Jeff bull, home-brewer and craft beer aficionado.

Betsy Pence from North Carolina is a craft lover, she comes out once a year to visit Russian River Brewing Company (RRBC) to get her Pliny fix. She expressed concern about the recent news of AB-InBev acquiring a minority stake in RateBeer.com, here is what she thinks, “ Talk about a conflict of interest! It’s causing a huge stir on the East Coast. Why can’t AB-InBev just stick to making shitty beer for the rednecks and college kids and stay out of the craft beer industry?!”

Dogfish Head Brewery owner and head brewer, Sam Calagione writes, “We were troubled by the announcement last week that ZX Ventures, which is fully owned by the global conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev, has purchased a portion of RateBeer. We believe this is a direct violation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics and a blatant conflict of interest. The SPJ’s Code of Ethics includes a section called ‘Act Independently’ and includes the following guidelines:

It is our strong opinion that ABI’s ownership of RateBeer, and other properties positioned to cover the craft brewing community like October and thebeernecessities.com is in direct conflict with multiple guidelines listed above.”

At the end of his statement, Sam shared this, “To our fellow independently-owned brewers, we encourage you to join us in this effort to ensure consumers continue to get the best and most accurate information about their beers. For everyone else, we encourage you to shift the sharing of your beer opinions and reviews to another platform that remains loyal to the principles of journalistic integrity. America’s Independence Day is just around the corner. Support the indie craft brewing movement!”.

Bear Republic fully backed Sam’s statement and posted one of their own including the the very same information, “Along with other independently owned breweries, we have respectfully asked RateBeer to remove anything pertaining to Bear Republic from their website effective immediately.” As a family/independently owned company for twenty years, their opinion holds a lot of clout in the craft beer world. Bear Republic is asking their consumers to please utilize a different platform for their beer reviews and ratings.

“We don’t want our consumers to feel like they are being deceived or misinformed in any way and do not want to be a part of something that allows us as a brewery to manipulate what is being said about our company and our beers, when it’s supposed to be a 100% consumer based and user-generated platform.”

Brewbound.com posted an article announcing that the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) – one of the most popular “basket list” beer festivals has banned all large beer companies from being able to buy a spendy sponsorship for the event. This means that all Ab-Inbev, Miller-Coors, and even Lagunitas will not be able to be a sponsor who is granted premium access and placement at the event. GABF is following the Brewer’s Association’s definition of a craft brewery when determining who will be allowed to be a sponsor. The Brewer;s Association (BA) defines a craft brewery as:

“a small (less than 6 million barrels), independent (less than 25 percent owned or controlled by an alcoholic industry member that is not themselves a craft brewer) and traditional (a majority of beer volume is made using traditional or innovative brewing ingredients; FMBs are not considered beers).”

Let’s stick to craft. (Vinpair.com)

This is a BIG deal. This marks a huge shift in the craft beer industry. People in the industry in many capacities are sharing their concerns and expressing that they will not support RateBeer.com any longer. What does this mean for you, the consumer and beer reviewer? Well, any craft supporter has a decision to make, now that RateBeer is a part of the “big beer” family, will you support them? 

As a craft beer writer and lover myself, my first thought was, “I hope their website will get a face-lift out of the deal” and it did, it is much better and more user friendly, but I will no longer look to RateBeer for beer news or post reviews on the site.

 

 

 

Other beer rating platforms that are popular are Beer Advocate and Untappd.

Russian River Brewing Company Broke Ground in Windsor!

One of my favorite beer-tenders, Spence at the Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa during the month long, “Breast Cancer for the Cure” fundraiser in October where they raise upwards of $100k and donate 100% of proceeds. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

WOOT! I am beyond excited for two reasons: I can imagine how important this moment is for Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, opening their new brewery completely, 100% on their own without investors, and also, this is less than one mile from my house! I’ll just have to figure in a nice walk before going there so I can work off the calories of my beloved Blind Pig IPA before I drink it there! 🙂

The town of Windsor is thrilled to welcome them and they say they expect to be opening around Fall of 2018. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, here are some photos in my article on Sonomamag.com of the ground breaking ceremony a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to my wonderful husband, Tim who made many sacrifices and went down to take photo and video for me (there may or may not have been beer drinking involved for him :))

 

Cheers!

MoXie

 

 

Russian River Brewing Co., russianriverbrewing.com, 725 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, (707) 545-2337, @RussianRiverOfficial

 

A Few Awesome Beer, Wine, and Food Events Happening in Sonoma County

Food + Wine Dinner Series: Trione Vineyards & Winery welcomes food and wine lovers to an intimate dinner series held on May 13th and 14th from 6-8:30pm. The winery features estate library wines and new releases paired with a farm-to-table menu prepared by local chefs of Peloton Culinary & Catering. This is a 3-4 course meal presented in a beautiful setting in the Old Stone Building overlooking the stunning vineyards of Alexander Valley. This is the perfect gift for mom, grandma, wife, or special person. The dinner is limited to 30 guests, the cost is $100 per person all inclusive. To purchase tickets please call the tasting room at 707.814.8100.

Santa Rosa Downtown Market: Visit the Wednesday night market for artisan food items, delicious street food, artwork, fun, and a wine and beer garden! May 10th, and 17th – 5-8:30pm in downtown Santa Rosa on 4th Street. Note: 4th Street will be closed early, park on 3rd or 5th and walk over.

Cooperage Beer & Yoga: Every Sunday get fit and drink beer with Cooperage Brewery from noon-1pm. It’s only $12 for a nice workout followed by a cold, delicious brew. They are also releasing a new beer each week, so there will always be a new surprise on for you to choose from! This will happen every Sunday for as long as people keep signing up for it! This is certainly the best drop in yoga deal around.

Beer & BBQ at the Coop: Cooperage is having Camacho’s Southern Style BBQ on May 12th for your grubbin’ pleasure. Belly up to the bar with some fantastic beers, play some cards against humanity or connect four, and enjoy the day. 

Live Music at Local Barrel: Every weekend starting at 5pm.

For more beer events, read my full article on SonomaMag.com here. 

 

Local Food, Wine, and Craft Beer Events in Sonoma County

Just because the rain won’t let up doesn’t mean that should keep you inside! There are so many great events coming up in April and May in Sonoma, here are a few you should put on your radar.

http://moxielady.org/

Dennis Housman sips on cold suds at a local beer event in Petaluma. (Tim Vallery)

APRIL EVENTS

St. Florian’s Brewery hosts Trivia Nights: The third Thursday of each month at the brewery in Windsor.

Cooperage is combining Yoga and Beer: get your workout in and then enjoy a nice cold one! Every Sunday in Santa Rosa.

Ping Pong Palooza: Palooza Gastropub hosts weekly Ping Pong Tournaments outside at 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday. Eat, drink, and play ping pong with friends and your whole family. All levels welcome. Prizes will be awarded. April 18th, 25th, and May 2nd from 6:30-8:30pm in Kenwood. There is no cost to play.

Damnation Returns to RRBC: The popular Belgian Strong Golden Ale from Russian River Brewery will once again make an appearance at the pub in Santa Rosa in April.

For more beer events in April visit Sonoma Magazine here. 

Passport to Dry Creek: Visit 45+ wineries around the beautiful Dry Creek Valley. Wineries will host vineyard tours, prelude lunches and dinners, and then the grand event is a two day wine event featuring the valley’s best wines paired with excellent food dishes created by local chefs. Visit Fritz Winery, Mill Creek, and Dry Creek Vineyards to try my favorite chefs food: Peloton Culinary & Catering. Tickets are still available, for more information or to purchase yours, click here. April 29th and 30th.

MAY EVENTS 

Ping Pong Palooza: Palooza Gastropub hosts weekly Ping Pong Tournaments outside at 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday. Eat, drink, and play ping pong with friends and your whole family. All levels welcome. Prizes will be awarded. May 2nd from 6:30-8:30pm in Kenwood. There is no cost to play.

Food + Wine Dinner Series: Trione Vineyards & Winery welcomes food and wine lovers to an intimate dinner series held on May 13th and 14th from 6-8:30pm. The winery features estate library wines and new releases paired with a farm-to-table menu prepared by local chefs of Peloton Culinary & Catering. This is a 3-4 course meal presented in a beautiful setting in the Old Stone Building overlooking the stunning vineyards of Alexander Valley. This is the perfect gift for mom, grandma, wife, or special person. The dinner is limited to 30 guests, the cost is $100 per person all inclusive. To purchase tickets please call the tasting room at 707.814.8100.

Santa Rosa Downtown Market: Visit the Wednesday night market for artisan food items, delicious street food, artwork, fun, and a wine and beer garden! May 3rd, 10th, and 17th – 5-8:30pm in downtown Santa Rosa on 4th Street. Note: 4th Street will be closed early, park on 3rd or 5th and walk over.

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

Bombers, Crowlers & Growlers: How to Take Your Favorite Craft Brews Home

The crowlers from Crooked Goat Brewery in Sebastopol’s Barlow. (Tim Vallery)

Since the dawn of beer, there’s been many ways to serve and store the beloved brew. In historic descriptions of beer drinking, beer was served from communal bowls and ceramic pots. Medieval monks in Europe stored beer in barrels and, after years of trial and error and shattered glass, it was first bottled in glass in London, England, over 400 years ago.

In 1935, after the American Can Company finally managed to figure out how to develop a container that could prevent the fizzy drink from chemically reacting with tin, beer was canned for the first time. By the end of that year, other companies like Pabst and Anheuser-Busch had followed suit and over 200 million cans were produced and sold.

Fast forward some 80 years and larger vessels like growlers and crowlers are now used to package the craft beer of our time.

 

Find out the difference between each vessel and what local beer lovers and brewers think: READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE ON SONOMA MAGAZINE 

 

Cheers!

 

IPA 10K and Beer Mile Invitational – Running with Beer? Yep!

On April 15th (just before tax day!) forget about your tax wows and head to the Barlow for the inaugural IPA 10K and Beer Mile Invitational in Sebastopol. This event is put on by Destination Races, the half marathon race experts who started the Wine Country Half Marathon in the heart of Dry Creek and Alexander Valley’s as well as Oregon, Santa Barbara, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, and Canada. Destination Races decided to trade in the grapes (just for this event) for HOPS. After all, this is beer country too now.

Photo courtesy of Crooked Goat Brewery Facebook

Racers will begin their morning at the Crooked Goat Brewery with a sip of beer before they head off for a nice, scenic 6.2 mile run through the loops of the Barlow and the rural outer edge of Sebastopol. Runners will finish at the Barlow for a beer, music, and food festivities. While the IPA 10K is exciting for runners, it’s the post-race Beer & Music Festival and Beer Mile that generates the most buzz from beer enthusiasts.

The Beer and Music Festival will open for runners and their guests at 9:30AM and the general public at 11:30AM until 2:30PM. There will be fourteen craft breweries sharing their beers, The band stage, sponsored by Lagunitas will be open throughout the festival and the race awards will be announced at 11AM.

The Beer Mile Invitational is a race around one block of the Barlow with professional runners competing for prize money.  Each runner must consume a 12-ounce beer every ¼ mile lap in the “chug zone”, and keep it down. The world record in the beer mile is 4 minutes and 34 seconds by Canadian Corey Bellemore. Prior to the professional heat, participating breweries will sponsor a 4-person relay team in which each team member consumes a 12-ounce beer, then runs a quarter mile and consumes another beer, before his or her partner can proceed with the same routine. The winning team receives the Golden Growler award filled with their favorite beer.

Do you have what it takes to step into the “chug zone” and join a relay team?

The event is the brainchild of Matt Dockstader, founder of Destination Races, based in Sonoma, California.  “As a former partner in a brewery in Colorado, the IPA 10K is the type of event I wanted to bring to fruition… I see this event as a natural extension for Destination Races, as it reflects the incredible growth and ingenuity of the craft beer industry.”

Registration for the IPA 10K is open now, click here for information or to register. Registration is $70 and includes a participant running shirt, a bottle opener finishers medal, an event beer tasting glass, and beer tasting tickets. Registration to the Beer and Music Festival is just $30.

The Barlow, 6780 Depot St #110, Sebastopol, CA US 95472

SF Beer Week – A Huge Success!

The opening gala for SF beer week in San Francisco. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

The opening gala for SF beer week in San Francisco. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Brewers made the trek from all over Northern California to pour their beers at the opening gala for SF Beer Week in San Francisco. Mayor Ed Lee was there to lead media and bloggers in a toast with the SF Brewers Guild Collaboration Ale: New Frontier. Sonoma County breweries came in full force with new beers, brewers and owners pouring, and ambassadors educating the patrons.

Russian River Brewing Company brought Pliny the Younger, enough to last until about 8:30PM and the line never died down, much like the line outside of the brewpub in Santa Rosa.

The line for Pliny the Younger only got longer as the event went on, it wrapped around in circles and then was directed outside down the side of the pier. People LOVE their RRBC and this year Russian River brought a substantial amount of Younger so they would not run out. It didn't last all night, but it lasted until about 8:30PM. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

The line for Pliny the Younger only got longer as the event went on, it wrapped around in circles and then was directed outside down the side of the pier. People LOVE their RRBC and this year Russian River brought a substantial amount of Younger so they would not run out. It didn’t last all night, but it lasted until about 8:30PM. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

New England-Style IPA’s were all the rage with Bear Republic Brewing and Sonoma Springs bringing in two of the best, well made “Juicy IPA’s” of the night.

Derek from Sonoma Spring Brewing Company shows off his DIPA and Triple IPA at the SF Beer week gala in San Francisco. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Derek from Sonoma Spring Brewing Company shows off his DIPA and Triple IPA at the SF Beer week gala in San Francisco.
(Photo by Tim Vallery)

Head Brewer, Rob from Bear Republic enjoys a sip with San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee at the Sf Beer week opening gala. The Bear Republic crew poured their new, just tapped Kompronat DIPA special for the gala. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Head Brewer, Rob from Bear Republic enjoys a sip with San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee at the Sf Beer week opening gala. The Bear Republic crew poured their new, just tapped Kompronat DIPA special for the gala.
(Photo by Tim Vallery)

With brewers and beer geeks from Sonoma County coming down for the fun, the North Bay was hugely represented at this San Francisco event.

Nick Garson aka "Fridge" a local beer celebrity, hugs up on the Stumptown team as he assists them in pouring the brews at the Sf beer week opening gala. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Nick Garson aka “Fridge” a local beer celebrity, hugs up on the Stumptown team as he assists them in pouring the brews at the Sf beer week opening gala.
(Photo by Tim Vallery)

Third Street Aleworks shared their Cossack Imperial Stout as a special brew. This beer is now available at the taproom in 22 ounce bottles for a limited time, just for SF Beer week.

Brewer, Adam De la Montanya and his crew have fun pouring their beers from Third Street Aleworks.

Brewer, Adam De la Montanya and his crew have fun pouring their beers from Third Street Aleworks. Brewers and brewery workers make friends and reminisce with old ones at the Sf Beer week opening gala.

HenHouse Brewing brought their popular Saison and the IPA to share with beer lovers.

HenHouse Brewing brought their popular Saison and the IPA to share with beer lovers.

Sf BEer week is about creating relationships and sharing new innovative information among brewers. (Left: brewer from St. Florian's in Windsor and Right: brewer) from Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA

Sf Beer week is about creating relationships and sharing new innovative information among brewers.
(Left: brewer from St. Florian’s in Windsor and Right: brewer) from Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA

Rachel from Cooperage poured the Keg Slayer (her nicname) and Smelltron 3030 DIPA for beer geeks right as they came into the pier.

Rachel from Cooperage poured the Keg Slayer (her nickname) and Smelltron 3030 DIPA for beer geeks right as they came into the pier.

IMG_1626

The front entrance at the SF Beer week opening gala – North Bay breweries were the first ones to be seen. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Sf beer week

Lot’s of cheer going around at the SF Beer week gala.

The SF Beer Week sign at the opening gala was the perfect setting to pose for pictures. This is the crew from Cellarmaker Brewing in San Francisco. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

The SF Beer Week sign at the opening gala was the perfect setting to pose for pictures. This is the crew from Cellarmaker Brewing in San Francisco. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

SF Beer week is still in full swing for ONE more day, click here to find official beer week events in and around the Bay Area.

Sonoma County breweries have the following events and releases happening:

Third Street Aleworks – Cossack Imperial Stout available in 22 oz bottles until they last

HenHouse Brewing – BIG Chicken IPA available at select places throughout Sonoma County and beyond. Click here for more details on Sonoma Magazine.

Crooked Goat Brewing – Tap takeover at La Vera Pizza all week long.

Santa Rosa Beer Passport – A collaboration between Visit Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa breweries. Pickup your beer passport at any of the participating breweries, Brew, Wilibee’s, or the Welcome Center and receive a prize for visiting each brewery. For more details and a list of participating breweries, click here.

 

Here is a list of 7 beer events you shouldn’t miss this weekend, on SonomaMag.com. 

Cheers and enjoy all of the beer week fun while it lasts!

Good Ol’ Fashioned Guacamole Dip

No big bash is complete without a good guacamole dip! We all want to indulge but don’t necessarily want to pay the prince the next day after we have eaten EVERYTHING on the tables because all the sides and snacks just looked too good to pass up… this is great with healthy-style “chips: Serve with lettuce chips, carrots sticks, or celery instead of chips!

Use these healthy chips instead of salty tortillas to cut on calories, to save for more wine or craft beer!

Ingredients for Guacamole Dip( Photo by Jess Vallery)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe avocados, peeled and cubed
  • 2 ripe but firm tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A dash of Cayenne Pepper

Method: 

Soak the onions in the lime juice and set aside. Mix avocado up and mash with a fork, add in tomatoes, cilantro, and onions and lime juice and mix well so flavors blend. Add season, stir and serve.