We were recently in California for my cousin’s wedding, so we took the opportunity to piggy back a few activities onto this trip. Our little guy was going to be able to stay with his grandparents, allowing some free time for us to head up to San Francisco to spend time with one of Linda’s friends, Alexis. Alexis had a huge list of breweries and hikes planned, however when we arrived we were able to surprise her with the news that we were expecting another little guy. This was made even more ironic, as the last time Linda visited, she was pregnant with Eli. So we whittled the list down. We loaded in the car and headed north to Santa Rosa, it was our opportunity to hit Russian River Brewing. There is a lot of hype surrounding their IPA Pliny the Elder, and they are considered to be one of the early stalwarts of the craft beer industry.
We arrived with a little bit of a line, but it didn’t take us long before we were inside. Wanting to grab something to eat, but figured we would grab a Pliny as we waited for our names to be called. Wasn’t long, and we had a table. The pub serves the standard fare for brewpubs, salads, pizza, sandwiches, and wings. We started off with a spinach salad and beer bites. Beer Bites are definitely a great idea and I could easily find myself eating these all the time if I was a regular. Go great with a flight or a few pints. Along with ordering our flight, we added a pizza. I’m thinking it was the Omni, but honestly, I can’t recall which one we had. I think the Beer Bites overshadowed the pizza somewhat in my memory.
When the flight arrived, I must say, it was one of the largest I have ever had delivered. I’ve been at plenty of breweries that will have a cap of samples in the flight, with the option of returning for a second flight. This is not an issue at Russian River, as 21 tasters were dropped off in front of us. One side was as they call it “traditional aggressively hopped California Style Ales” while the other side were the Belgian inspired and barrel aged. I think the latter side became the more appealing to me, though I’m sure some would disagree. We of course hit the shop on the way out, grabbed a couple of Plinys to bring to the east coast, and some cool swag (opportune due to my forgetting my jackets further south in warmer climates).
Beers Sampled: Pliny the Elder, Aud Blonde, OVL Stout, STS Pils, Dribble Belt, Hop 2 It, Segal Select, Row 2 Hill 56, Blind Pig IPA, Porter, Redemption, Perdition, Damnation, Defenestration, Rejection, Salvation, Sanctification, Compunction, Supplication, Consecration
The next morning, after a filling breakfast, we met up with Alexis again to go hiking. We headed to Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, and you can read about the hike here. All that hiking made us thirsty. So our next stop would be Drake’s Brewing Company. I feel like I’ve heard of Drake’s and their logo looked familiar, but not sure. As it was continuing to rain, we decided sitting in the outdoor area was not an option, eventhough we were already soaked.
Once in the barrel house, I ordered a flight as we reviewed the menu. They have a food truck outside that was very capable. The fries and club sandwich really hit the spot. We ran into the flight limit here, with only eight allowed at a time. I had grand plans of trying all of their offerings, however ended up calling it quits sooner. I thoroughly enjoyed the balance of the Hop-U-Rye, the roastiness of the Black Robusto, and the punch of the Wheatwine.
It was nice to be able to relax and chill out in the barrel house. We must have been there around the time the staff get off work, as a lot of them headed inside for a beer before heading home. Near the food menu resides a couple jars of pickled eggs. Not sure why, but they are there. Wasn’t crazy about jumping into the Habanero, instead opted for the Jalepeno. May have needed more pickling time, as it tasted like a normal egg with Jalepeno taste to it. Oh well, the reason for stopping in didn’t disappoint, so no worries.
Beers Sampled: Winning Lager, 4×40, Quasar Imperial IPA, Hop-U-Rye, Black Robusto Porter, 1500 Pale Ale, Foraging Raccoon, Denogginizer, Drake’s Grisette, Hefeweizen, Ludwig’s Scorn Wheatwine, Black & Orange Robusto, Hopocalypse (Green Label)
We did stop by another brewery earlier in the week while in San Diego, we didn’t actually sit down and order a beer, but I figured I would still share a couple of the pics. We had been to Stone Brewing’s Bistro & Beer Garden in Escondido, but I believe their Liberty Station location may be bigger. Felt like there were rooms heading in every direction. Lots of big granite and metal of course.
Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Drake’s Brewing Company
1933 Davis Street #177
San Leandro, CA 94577
Stone Brewing – Liberty Station
2816 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106